The purpose of the Alternative Classroom is to provide assistance to students with learning disabilities, social-emotional difficulties, or other disabilities identified by the multidisciplinary team that would be best served through the Alternative Classroom the school curriculum with modifications. This assistance can be provided during a class period or during a study period. The students placed must have exhibited some learning problems and/or social-emotional problems that are a hindrance to themselves and/or their peers' learning. The amount of time spent in the Alternative Classroom depends on the student's needs as related to the learning/academic areas and/or social-emotional issues.
The special assistance may be designed to be separate from the regular classes, but generally every attempt is made to work with classroom teachers and the regular curriculum through modifications as necessary for helping the student to be as successful as possible. Close contact and communication with the regular classroom teachers are essential and beneficial to the student, the regular education teacher, and the special education teacher.
Audio-visual entrainment (AVE) is the result of exposing the visual channel to pulsing lights and the auditory channel to rhythmic beats or tones. Most American homes contain the most common entrainment device, a television. (Music videos, rock concerts, strobe lights, a car ride, a flickering fire, can all provide entrainment experiences.) When exposed to such an experience, one's brainwave activity begins to entrain or follow the flicker of the light and beat or rhythm of the sound. The problem with most of the common entrainment experiences mentioned above is that the brain learns rhythmic patterns that are not useful for many important tasks in school or in everyday life! Specialized AVE equipment assists the brain to obtain useful patterns and to make them more accessible to the person. The AVE device is about the size of a portable radio. The outcome of an AVE session can be similar to that of neurofeedback, as well having other general health related benefits. What makes the AVE device so attractive, in addition is portability is the at home convenience.
LSCI Life Space Crisis Intervention is about talking with children and youth who are in crisis. Today's students come from a wider range of family structures, lifestyles, and cultures than ever before. They present the schools with social-emotional needs at a level unknown in recent years. LSCI is about talking with children and youth who are in crisis. The talk "process" helps the adult to recast problems presented by students. The problem solving methods develop respectful alliances, skills and techniques grounded in cognitive, behavioral, social, and developmental psychology based on the teaching of Nicholas Hobbs and the in-depth clinical interviewing skills developed from Fritz Redl's concept of Life Space Interviewing (LSI).
The process uses students' reactions to stressful events to (a) change behavior, (b) enhance self-esteem, (c) reduce anxiety, and (d) expand understanding and inight into their own and others' behaviors and feelings. LSCI can be used with children and youth in situations in which reaction to stress is a concern, and with students who are have difficulty controlling or managing their own behavior appropriately. LSCI focuses on a crisis that occurs and when an incident escalates into conflict between the student and another student or adult. Because such a crisis involves a student's immediate life experience (the "life space"), it is an optimal time for learning. Students are intensely involved in situations that hold personal significance or that disrupt their sense of well-being. Adults who work with students in crisis need to understand the conflict from the student's point of view, while also promoting the student's active choice in their responsibility for the behavior. Too many students in crisis defend themselves against their feelings by denying them, displacing them on others, blaming others, regressing or rationalizing. One of the most important steps in helping a troubled child/youth is to help them become more realistic and responsible for their behavior; understanding the feelings that drive their behavior.
LSCI is currently used in education programs, alternative residential settings, etc. whenever the paramount concern is to teach better ways to cope with social, emotional, and behavioral crisis. LSCI is effective because it offers a way to provide emotional support "on the spot." It is a process that can be used for understanding the connection between behavior and feelings and provides strategies for adults to use in teaching better ways for children and youth to cope with stress, to change behavior, and to resolve conflict.
The occupational and physical therapists are responsible for assessment, planning, and goal development. They provide appropriate services designed to enhance the student's potential for learning, to assist the student in acquiring those functional skills needed to participate in and benefit from the educational environment, and to help the student function independently.
Occupational therapy and physical therapy, as related services, generally address the development of fine motor coordination, sensorimotor skills, sensory integration, and large motor/gross motor skills as well as activities related to daily living.
To be considered for occupational therapy or physical therapy as a related service, a child must meet the following criteria:
(1) The child must be in need of special education; and
(2) The child must demonstrate a significant delay, generally 1.5 standard deviations below the norm, in one or more of the following areas:
a. fine or gross motor skills
b. sensory integration
c. visual motor skills
d. other skills related to daily living
The Resource Room Program provides support for students who are functioning approximately two or more years below their actual grade level placement. These students may also be exhibiting behaviors related to a short attention span, problems with concentration, a low threshold for frustration, poor auditory or visual memory, etc.
Each student is placed in the regular classroom whenever possible. Special instruction is provided in the resource room as well as support for modifications within the regular classroom/curriculum as appropriate.
The statute prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including students, parents and staff members, by public school districts receiving federal financial assistance. All programs and activities of the school district are covered by Section 504, regardless of whether the specific program or activity involved in a complaint is funded with federal monies.
For many years the main area of enforcement of Section 504 has concerned employment and physical accessibility issues of individuals with disabilities. However, within the last several years, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has become more active in the provisions of Section 504 regarding the education of individuals with disabilities.
No state or federal funding is provided to assist districts in complying with Section 504. All costs are the obligation of the school district. Many school districts have established a Section 504 line item in the general fund budget to pay for necessary services.
Section 504 has three major areas of emphasis; Subpart B--Employment Practices, Subpart C--Program Accessibility, and Subparts D and E--Requirements for Preschool, Elementary, Secondary, and Post-secondary Education. These guidelines will primarily be concerned with Subparts C and D. The following is a brief overview of each subpart.
Subpart C: Program Accessibility
No qualified student or individual with a disability shall be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity because facilities are inaccessible or not useable. Building and program accessibility is applicable to students, parents, employees and other individuals with disabilities.
Subpart D: Requirements for Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Education
There has been much confusion regarding the relationship between Section 504 and special education laws and regulations. It must be emphasized that Section 504 falls under the management of general education. The school staff and parents should work in collaboration to help guarantee that students are provided with necessary accommodations and/or services. A student found to be disabled under Section 504 should be served by the resources provided through regular education. The exception to this standard would be a student who has been determined eligible as disabled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Such a student could receive special education services under IDEA and accommodations required under Section 504.
If a school district has reason to believe that because of a disability a student needs either accommodations or related services in the general educational environment in order to have equally effective participation in the school program, the district must notify the parent of an individual evaluation, evaluate the student, and develop and implement a plan for the delivery of all necessary educational modifications. Requirements for the evaluation and placement process are determined by the type of disability suspected and the type of services needed by the student.
Determination of what services are needed must be made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student and Section 504 eligibility. Services must be documented in the student's file and reviewed periodically.
Under Section 504, parents or guardians must be provided with notice of any action that changes the identification, evaluation or placement of their child. The parents should be included in the evaluation and placement process whenever possible. Parents or guardians are entitled to an impartial due process hearing if they disagree with school district decision.
The Social Learning Classroom is designed to meet the special needs of elementary students who demonstrate behavioral and/or social-emotional problems that interfere with their learning as well as the learning of other students. The classroom is a self-contained program with gradual inclusion/re-integration as a goal according to each child's individual needs and progress.
The program within the Social Learning Classroom is structured to teach and then monitor social and behavioral progress. Students work within a system that provides positive feedback for positive behaviors and redirecting in a caring and supportive environment for negative or inappropriate behaviors. All students work through a specially designed individual education plan that addresses their academic, social-emotional and behavioral needs.
The Speech, Language and Hearing Program serves children who are having difficulty in certain areas of communication such as articulation, language development, phonology, phonemic awareness, fluency, voice, hearing disorders, or may be in need of alternative methods/ technology support to communicate effectively.
A district-wide preschool screening held in the spring and fall identifies young children with communication delays. Also, each school year a speech and language screening of all second grade students is completed by the speech clinicians. Through these procedures, children who may have difficulties in communication are identified for further testing. During the course of the year, other children may be referred for assessment by the classroom teacher, parent, principal, medical professional, etc. Further evaluation usually involves a hearing screening, articulation assessment, and language assessment depending upon areas of concern.
Speech therapy services include individual or small group sessions and some classroom activities varying in length depending on each student's individual needs. Classroom teachers and parents are encouraged to participate in the therapy program to ensure continued progress in all environments.
Preschool for Children with Special Needs is designed to provide early experiences and assistance for children from birth to six years of age. The goal of the program is to assist in the child's emotional, social, academic, and language development so that the child will grow to the fullest of his/her abilities.
The children who are considered for this special needs program are children with cognitive impairments, hearing impairments, visual impairments, language delays, and motor problems or any other developmental delays that might hinder a child's learning ability.
The children are observed and assessed by a special educator, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist. Referrals to the program might come from physicians, parents, social service or mental health agencies, teachers, and other concerned citizens.
The DLC program teaches functional and daily living skills. Many times communication skills and alternative communication strategies are important for greater success. The students may learn more efficiently from hands-on experiences and have a greater need for repetition and intensity in stimulation within special teaching techniques and modifications for learning specific tasks.
The areas generally considered for concentration are as follows:
1) Academic skills generally related to future goals in employment and independent living
2) Social skills in the home, neighborhood, and community
3) Self-care and self-help skills
4) Economic usefulness in the home, school, work areas, and/or sheltered environment
Educational and training needs are met within individualized and/or small group activities. Students may also receive occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy as needed to meet with success.
The Learning Lab program is designed for elementary children with specific learning disabilities or other disabilities as identified by the multidisciplinary team that would best be served in the Learning Lab. A Learning Disability generally means an impairment in one or more of the basic processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may make it difficult to listen, think, speak, read, write, or to do mathematical calculations. The term does not apply to children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; or because of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantages.
Children identified with specific learning disabilities must have a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability that is not correctable without special education and related services. The following areas should be considered in making the determination of discrepancy:
1) oral expression
2) listening comprehension
3) written expression
4) basic reading skills
5) reading comprehension
6) mathematic calculations
7) mathematic reasoning
These students may receive individual, small group instruction and/or support within the regular classroom to help to become more successful.
The Our Home School program provides the educational component for three twenty-four hour placement facilities.
Students from Our Home Sexual Adjustment Program attend the alternative school for all required classes. As the students overcome their personal problems, they are gradually reintegrated into the regular school system. Upon completing recovery, they return to their home school district. Afternoon classes are provided for adolescents from Our Home Rediscovery Program treatment facility. All students attend the self-contained classroom during their 45-60 day treatment. Students in the Our Home Inhalant Abuse Program attend full day classes in a self-contained classroom during their 90-120 day treatment.
(Special note: Title I services are provided for qualified students in all programs at Our Home)
Title One is a federal program to help students get a good education and meet academic standards. Title One can help a whole school. When schools meet certain income requirements, they can use Title One money to pay for educational programs for the whole school. This is called a schoolwide program.
Schoolwide Title One programs offer many benefits:
All students in all classrooms can receive services and use the Title One equipment and materials.
Title One money may be combined with other funds to pay for new programs.
Tutoring is offered for children needing extra help.
Extra learning time is provided through after-school programs.
Parent involvement is an important part of the program.