Special Education Services and Programs
West Philadelphia Achievement Charter School
The undersigned Charter School located in Philadelphia County ensures that all children with disabilities residing in its boundaries, including children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated. This responsibility is required by a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Act Amendment of 1997 (IDEA '97).
In accordance with IDEA '97 the undersigned Charter School publishes a notice to parents, in newspapers and makes use of public opportunities on radio and television, before any major identification, location, or evaluation activity. Further, these charter schools notify parents annually of their confidentiality rights. To comply with the requirements of the IDEA '97 and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the following is the annual public notice for the undersigned Charter School.
This Charter School provides a free and appropriate public education to school age children with disabilities who need special education and related services and are identified as eligible for special education if they need specially designed instruction and have one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities.
Screening The Charter School has established and implemented procedures to locate, to identify, and evaluate school age students suspected of being eligible for special education. These procedures employ screening activities which include but are not limited to: review of group- based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, and report cards); hearing screenings (at minimum of kindergarten, first, second, third and seventh grades); vision screenings (every grade level); motor screenings; and speech and language screenings.
Except as indicated above or otherwise announced publicly, screening activities take place on an ongoing basis throughout the school year. Screenings are conducted in the Charter School site unless other arrangements are necessary. If parents need additional information about the purpose, time and location of the screening activities, they should call or write to the Charter School.
Evaluation When screening indicates that a student may be exceptional, the Charter School will seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation. "Evaluation" means procedures used in the determination of whether a child has a disability and the nature and the extent of the special education and related services the child needs. The term means procedures used selectively with an individual child and does not mean basic tests administered to or procedures used with all children.
This evaluation is called a multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE). The MDE is conducted by a multidisciplinary team (MDT), which must include at least a school psychologist, a teacher, and parents. The MDE process will be conducted in accordance with specific timelines and will include protection-in-evaluation procedures. For example, tests and procedures used as part of the multidisciplinary evaluation will not be radically or culturally biased.
The MDE process will result in a written evaluation report called a Comprehensive Evaluation Report (CER). This report makes recommendations about a student's eligibility for special education based on the presence of a disability and the needs for specially designed instruction. Once parental consent for the evaluation is obtained, the undersigned charter schools follow timelines and procedures specified by law.
Parents who think their child is eligible for special education may request, at any time, that the Charter School conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Requests for a multidisciplinary evaluation should be made in writing to the Principal of the School in which the child is enrolled (that is, elementary or upper division). If a parent makes an oral request for a multidisciplinary evaluation, the Charter School Special Education Office will provide the parent with a form for that purpose.
Education Placement The determination of whether a student is eligible for special education is made by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. A single test or procedure will not be the sole factor in determining that a child is exceptional. The IEP team will include at least two members in addition to the parent(s). Other members will include at least one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment), at least one special education teacher, or where appropriate, at least one special education provider, and a representative of the Charter School. If the student is determined to be exceptional, the IEP team will develop a written education plan called an IEP. The IEP will be based on the results of the multidisciplinary evaluation. The IEP team may decide that a student is not eligible for special education. In that instance, recommendations for education and programming in regular education will be developed from the Comprehensive Evaluation Report.
An IEP describes a student's current education levels, goals, objectives, and the individualized programs and services, which the student will receive. IEP's will be reviewed on an annual basis. The IEP team will make decisions about the type of services, the level of intervention, and the location of the intervention.
Services for Qualified Handicapped Students Students who are not eligible to receive special education programs and services may qualify as handicapped students under federal statutes and regulations intended to prevent discrimination (34 CFR Part 104). The undersigned Charter Schools will ensure that qualified handicapped students have equal opportunity to participate in the Charter program including extra curricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate for each individual student. In compliance with state and federal law, the undersigned Charter Schools will provide to each qualified handicapped student (without discrimination or cost to the student or family), those related aids, services, or accommodations which are needed to provide equal opportunity to participate in and to obtain the benefits of the Charter program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student's abilities. In order to be a qualified handicapped student, the child must be of school age with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to any aspect of the Charter program.
These services and protections for qualified handicapped students may be distinct from those applicable to eligible or thought-to-be eligible students. The Charter School or the parent may initiate an evaluation if either believes that a specific student is a qualified handicapped student. For further information on the evaluation procedures and provision of services to qualified handicapped students, parents should contact the appropriate Charter School Site Director's Office.
Confidentiality The undersigned Charter School protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information regarding its eligible, thought to be eligible, and qualified handicapped students (if not protected by IDEA '97) in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and other applicable federal and state laws, policies and regulations.
"Education records" means those records that are directly related to the student, including computer media and videotape, which are maintained by an educational agency or by a party acting for the agency. "Educational agency", for purposes of this notice, means all of the undersigned Charter Schools. For all students, these Charter Schools maintain education records which include but are not limited to:
The Board of Trustees (“Board”) recognizes the importance of a safe school environment to the education process of West Philadelphia Achievement Elementary Charter School. The Board has determined that a safe and civil environment in school is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards. Bullying, like other disruptive or violent behaviors, is conduct that disrupts both a student's ability to learn and a school's ability to educate its students in a safe environment. Because students learn by example, school administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers should be commended for demonstrating appropriate behavior, treating others with civility and respect and refusing to tolerate bullying.
Bullying is any gesture or written, verbal, graphic, or physical act (including electronically transmitted acts - i.e. Internet, cell phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), or wireless hand held device) that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; or a mental, physical, or sensory disability or impairment; or by any other distinguishing characteristic. Such behavior is considered bullying whether it takes place on or off school property, at any school-sponsored function, or in a school vehicle.
"Bullying" is conduct that meets all of the following criteria:
The Board expects students to conduct themselves in a manner in keeping with their levels of development, maturity, and demonstrated capabilities with a proper regard for the rights and welfare of other students, school staff, volunteers, and contractors.
The Board believes that standards for student behavior must be set cooperatively through interaction among the students, parents, and guardians, staff, and community members of the school, producing an atmosphere that encourages students to grow in self-discipline. The development of this atmosphere requires respect for self and others, as well as for school and community property on the part of students, staff, and community members.
Since bystander support of bullying can support these behaviors, the school prohibits both active and passive support for acts of bullying. The staff should encourage students to support students who walk away from these acts when they see them, constructively attempt to stop them or report them to the designated authority.
Consequences and appropriate remedial actions for a student or staff member who commits one or more acts of bullying may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion, in the case of a student, or suspension or termination in the case of an employee, as set forth in the school's approved code of student conduct or employee handbook. 48
Consequences for a student who commits an act of bullying shall be unique to the individual incident and will vary in method and severity according to the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student, and the student's history of problem behaviors and performance, and must be consistent with the school's approved code of student conduct. Remedial measures shall be designed to accomplish any of the following: correct the problem behavior; prevent another occurrence of the behavior; and protect the victim of the act. Effective discipline should employ a school-wide approach to adopt a rubric of bullying offenses and the associated consequences.
The Board requires the Chief Executive Officer of the school to be responsible for receiving complaints alleging violations of this policy. All school employees are required to report alleged violations of this policy to the Chief Executive Officer. All other members of the school community, including students, parents, volunteers, and visitors, are encouraged to report any activity that may be a violation of this policy. Reports may be made anonymously, but formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
The Board requires the Chief Executive Officer to be responsible for determining whether an alleged act constitutes a violation of this policy. In so doing, the Chief Executive Officer shall conduct a prompt, thorough, and complete investigation of each alleged incident. The investigation is to be completed within three school days after a report or complaint is made. The Board prohibits reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an act of bullying. The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who engages in reprisal or retaliation shall be determined by the administrator after consideration of the nature, severity, and circumstances of the act.
The Board prohibits any person from falsely accusing another of bullying. The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person found to have falsely accused another of bullying may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion. Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a school employee found to have falsely accused another of bullying shall be disciplined in accordance with school policies, procedures, and agreements.
The Board requires school officials to annually disseminate the anti-bullying policy to all school staff, students, and parents, along with a statement explaining that it applies to all applicable acts of bullying that occur on school property, at school-sponsored functions, or in a school vehicle.
West Philadelphia Achievement Elementary Charter School will comply with federal, state and local laws relating to bullying.
West Philadelphia Achievement Elementary Charter School will comply with federal, state and local laws regarding the discipline of special education students who engage in an act of bullying.
To the extent that anything in this policy could be construed to conflict with applicable state and/or federal laws, the applicable state and/or federal laws control.