In keeping with updates to the components of its five-year plan, the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education invited Dr. Raymond Brodeur, the director of special education and pupil personnel services for the district to give an update on his specific area.
The district adopted a “statement of philosophy” towards special education.
“It talks about how services are provided, it talks about the involvement of the parents, it talks about the fact that we are great through a least-restrictive environment and it talks about the fact that communication is really part of the hallmark as far as the overall program is concerned,” Dr. Brodeur said during the December 10 meeting of the board at the Manor Oaks School.
The “full continuum of services” offered by New Hyde Park-Garden City Park includes the academic, social, physical and managerial needs of each student in determining the placement in services. Possible placements include an integrated co-teaching services, resource room, a special class in-district, a special class out-of-district such as in another district, in Nassau BOCES or a private school, and other services such as speech, physical therapy and counseling among others.
Dr. Brodeur reported that New Hyde Park-Garden City Park was “well ahead” of the state mandate for special education.
“It’s a very well-established process within the district under the leadership of the building principals,” he said, noting the instructional support team meets on a weekly basis in each of the schools to coordinate intervention services.
Student data is also analyzed in terms of achievement and modifications are made to address student needs. In terms of professional development, Dr. Brodeur said that there is an ongoing program “geared toward special education topics that are appropriate to the faculty,” including alternate assessments, iPads in the classrooms and incorporation of the new common core learning standards.
The five-year plan update includes “fine tuning” to the instructional support team and committee on special education.
“There’s on-going dialogue that takes place after meetings, before meetings and if there are any suggestions that need to be incorporated into the process, that is fully considered as we structure the meetings so they’re necessary for the children,” Dr. Brodeur said.
Parents also have a “high degree” of participation in the committee on special education and pre-school special education.
“This year there is a special education PTA committee which has held evening meetings that were designed to provide parent education and support,” Dr. Brodeur said, noting each meeting had more than 35 parents in attendance.
In October the group met at the New Hyde Park Road School to provide information on resources for parents and in November they featured an educational therapist at the Garden City Park School who talked about study skills. Additional meetings are planned for later in the school year, with a February meeting featuring an attorney who will discuss the legal aspects of special education and a spring meeting focusing on attention deficit disorder.
The special education PTA (SEPTA) is currently working as a committee of the district PTA because “several years ago it was more or less disbanded and it lost its charter,” Dr. Brodeur said, “and we’re in the process of attempting to get back that charter which we hope will be done in the near future.”
Dr. Brodeur explained that part of the concern at the county PTA level “is because of the fact that they felt that there was very little involvement many years ago when it was disbanded that perhaps it will repeat itself. So we have to prove to the county PTA that in fact it’s a viable group and I think we’re well on the way to doing that.”
Another updated component for special education is the “declassification rate,” where students are no longer in need of specialized instructional services.
“Of course the parent or guardian is a full partner in this process to the extent that this is done when the student is ready,” Dr. Brodeur said.
The district is also using technology in the classroom such a SMARTboards, SMARTtables iPads, FM trainers and Dynavox in daily programs.
“The special ed students are really enjoying the iPads this year,” Dr. Brodeur said. “I think it really enhances the children’s motivation. As far as media is concerned, without question we are living in a media-attuned, 21st century child at this particular point in time. Because of the fact that the child is able to see a variety of media being presented via the SMARTboard, the SMARTtable or the iPad, the child is able to utilize really a variety of learning styles and learning approaches to be able to master what is appropriate for his or her program.”