Colonial School District welcomed more than 40 people to the kick-off of Colonial Understands Special Education (CUSP), a collaboration between parents and staff that offers informative topics relevant to Colonial’s families and students with special needs.
For the inaugural presentation, “What’s the big IDEA?”, Karen Berk, the Colonial School District’s Director of Pupil Services and Special Education, introduced the group to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the federal and state laws required for districts to provide a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” for students with disabilities. Guests learned about who is eligible for IDEA services, the basics of the evaluation process, what goes into an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and more.
“We have to work within a particular framework that dictates many of the things we do,” said Mrs. Berk. “However, each student is an individual with individual needs, strengths and challenges, and this framework offers us the opportunity to address each child one at a time.”
The group consisted mainly of parents. However, teachers, staff and school board members also attended the event.
“CUSP is important because parents often feel uninformed about the decisions they make regarding their children. Special education is complicated, and I want parents to feel secure in their decisions,” said Jennifer Dow, Colonial School Board member who helped coordinate the event. “I was also happy to see teachers and staff there. When everyone participates in something like CUSP, the positive impact will be much greater.”
Upcoming topics include: transitions (from building to building and from school to adult life), school-based and community-based mental health services and bullying prevention.
To read the content from the slideshow presented by Mrs. Berk, click here to access the webpage on “Special Education 101.”