Special Education

Our School Adjustment Counselor's name is Kate Donly.  She is available at Jireh Swift Tuesdays and Thursdays.

What services does a school adjustment counselor provide?

Short-term inpidual and group counseling; Supervision and training for peer mediation; program, consultation to parents for a variety of issues; Classroom-based lessons to teach students how to manage anger, emotions, resolve conflicts, handle peer pressure.

When should I refer my child to the school adjustment counselor?

The School Adjustment Counselor assists students who demonstrate difficulties in the following areas:  Poor school performance, ongoing; Recent decline in school performance; Behavior problems in school; Mood/behavioral changes that are impacting school performance; Stressful situations at home; Conflicts with peers at school; Student has low self-esteem.  For students who are experiencing a stressful event in his/her life or a situation that is family based AND it is not affecting his/her school performance, a referral to an outside agency might be more appropriate.  The school adjustment counselor can discuss this with the parent/guardian and assist in making a referral if necessary.

How do I refer my child for school-based counseling

A parent/guardian must call the school and request counseling directly from the counselor.  The counselor will ask to meet with the parent to discuss the issues of concern and determine if the school-based counseling would be the most appropriate intervention for the child.

What is peer mediation & who should use peer mediation?

Peer mediation is a voluntary program that involves students helping other students resolve conflicts.  The mediators at Ashley School are 5th grade students who are trained and supervised by the School Adjustment Counselor. Mediators do not solve problems or give advice.  Peer mediators are trained to hear both sides of the story, to help students work together to find a resolution to their dispute, and to keep all mediation sessions private and confidential.  Any student (in grades 3-5) who is involved in a non-violent conflict with another student may go to peer mediation.  Both or all students involved need to agree to use mediation and to work on finding a solution to their conflict. Typical conflicts may include:  Teasing, Name-calling, Spreading rumors, Excluding someone from a group; Disagreements or ongoing disputes between students; Students who have committed a serious offense, i.e. stealing, violence or threat of violence do not go to peer mediation.  These students go directly to the Principal.  Peer mediation sessions are coordinated by the School Adjustment Counselor and will be held at the end of each school day.  Students can request a mediation session through their teacher, at the Principal's office, or directly with the School Adjustment Counselor.  A teacher, staff member or parent may encourage a student to use peer mediation, however, it is the student's decision whether or not to do so.

What is a CORE evaluation?

A CORE evaluation is a comprehensive evaluation conducted through the New Bedford School Department to determine if a student meets criteria for special education services.  The evaluation may consist of one or more of the following assessments:  A psycho-educational assessment, a home assessment, a health assessment, an educational assessment, and a student observation.  Other assessments may be recommended as deemed necessary.  If you have ongoing concerns about your child's school performance and feel his/her performance is compromised due to a disability, please contact the school adjustment counselor to discuss your options.

How can I obtain special education services for my child & who is eligible?

If a student is having ongoing academic and/or behavioral difficulties, the teacher must make accommodations to the student's academic program.  A variety of practices and supports should be tried before a student is referred for an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education.  The teacher is required to document each intervention attempted.  If these interventions do not adequately help improve the student's performance, other options will be discussed.  A CORE evaluation may or may/not be recommended at that time.  If a CORE referral is indicated, contact the school adjustment counselor, who will provide you with the forms you need for the referral.

According to federal guidelines, a student needs to have a documented disability, and the disability must contribute to the student's academic difficulties before special education services will be provided.  For instance, stressful life events that negatively impact a student's performance do not make a student eligible for special education. The following are a list of disabilities that may qualify a child for special education services:  - Autism, Developmental Delay, Intellectual, Sensory: Hearing, Vision, Deaf-Blind, Neurological, Emotional, Communication, Physical, Specific Learning, and Health.

After the referral is made to have your child evaluated, the professionals involved will conduct their assessment(s) of him/her.  Once all the assessments are completed, a meeting will be scheduled to discuss the results. This meeting is called a "team meeting".  As parents, you are invited to the meeting and are included as part of the team.  Other members of the team will include any professional who evaluated your child.  This usually includes the classroom teacher, a special education teacher, the school adjustment counselor and any other ancillary staff involved in the process.

A summary of the evaluations will be presented at the meeting.  The team members will discuss the results and make a determination whether your child is eligible for special education.  Your input in this process is very valuable and you are encouraged to actively participate in the process.

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