Special Education Department

Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends,

 Greetings! The Office of Special Education is a division of the West Middlesex Area School District dedicated to facilitating programs and services for students with disabilities as well as students who require gifted support services in grades K-12. Although we are a relatively small district, we have a lot to offer to our students. I hope you will take the opportunity to navigate through our website to learn more about our programs and services.  

Our Special Education teachers receive training in core general education programming so that they know and understand what all students must know, understand, and be able to do. In addition, we are fortunate to also offer more specialized trainings in the areas of autism, research based reading and mathematics programs, behavior support, transition, implementing accommodations to the general curriculum and gifted education. Many of these trainings are also offered to our general education teachers so that they may better meet the needs of students in their inclusive classrooms.

It would be impossible to list all of the programs and services we offer to our students in this brief welcome message. As such, I encourage you to not only to explore our Special Education pages, but also to write me an email if you have any specific questions, concerns, or comments. As a district administrator, I am driven to provide the most challenging educational opportunities and to initiate practices which increase academic performance, student involvement, self-esteem, and success for every child.

It’s going to be an exciting year. Together, let’s make 2019-20 the best school experience, ever, for our kids! Please do not hesitate to contact me at (724) 634-3030 ext.1127 or by e-mail at smccaskey@wmasd.k12.pa.us

Sincerely, 


 Scott McCaskey
Director of Special Education  
 

Special Education Overview

  The West Middlesex Area School District's Special Education Department is committed to meeting the needs of students with disabilities and helping them reach their potential. The West Middlesex Area School District offers a continuum of services and placement options to meet the needs of each student. Services include but are not limited to:  

  • Life Skills Support
  • Learning Support
  • Emotional Support
  • Autistic Support
  • Speech and Language Support

The West Middlesex Special Education Department is committed to meeting the goals of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA 2004) which includes:  

  • Ensuring that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education designed to meet their needs
  • Ensuring that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents or guardians are protected
  • Ensuring the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities

Gifted Overview

 The West Middlesex Special Education Department is committed to meeting the needs of gifted students by ensuring that they are served through an organized program designed to develop their potential through appropriate education experiences. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, "Mentally gifted is defined as outstanding intellectual and creative ability, the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the general education program." At West Middlesex, through the partnership of support staff and general education teachers, educational opportunities for an identified child include varied enrichment and acceleration options. Each student is viewed as an individual with specific strengths and interests.  

Transition Planning & Services

 The Transition Program’s mission is to provide programming, activities, supports, and services to prepare students with disabilities for life and career after high school. This includes participation in post-secondary education or training, employment, and independent living. Transition planning begins at age 14 or earlier if deemed appropriate by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. Students will identify possible post-secondary goals through career awareness and exploration activities built into their high school programming. The IEP team works with each student and family to select courses of study, services, and activities that will be meaningful to the student's future. This process will enable the student to complete high school equipped with the pre-requisite skills needed to realize post-secondary goals. Effective transition involves collaboration among students, parents, teachers, and representatives providing post-secondary supports.

Transition: Frequently Asked Questions

Why is transition important?
It is required by federal law (IDEIA 2004) and PA regulations (Chapter 14). Studies show that many students receiving special education services do not pursue education or training beyond high school and are not as successful as the general population in the workplace and in living independently. Transition planning & programming helps to close these gaps.

Which students must have transition planning?
All students with disabilities, ages 14-21, who qualify for special education services.

When does transition planning start?
It is required by PA regulations (Chapter 14) that transition be addressed in the IEP of the student in the year he/she turns 14, but may begin earlier if the IEP team decides that early planning is appropriate.

Who is involved in the transition planning process?
Transition planning involves the student, family, all relevant educational staff, personnel from outside agencies, and other applicable community members.  

The Pennsylvania Link to Community Care

 

The Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website provides users with a wide variety of resources including a home care directory and an information referral tool. 

The website is a collaboration of the departments of Aging (PDA) and Human Services (DHS), and is an extension of PDA’s Aging and Disability Resource call center. By providing assistance online, the initiative further enhances the commonwealth’s efforts to help Pennsylvanians locate and best-utilize services at the local level. 

The site features 12 service and support categories: Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Employment, Finance, Health Care, housing, In-Home Services, Legal, Meals, Protection from Abuse, Support Groups, and Transportation. 

Users can find information about organizations, services, and programs within these categories. A major component to the site is the home care directory, which connects individuals to in-home services available in their county. In-home service providers appearing on the searchable directory may offer personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, companionship services, respite care, and/or habilitation services. 

To access the Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website, visit www.carelink.pa.gov

More Information

Annual Public Notice

It is the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Education to ensure that all children with

disabilities residing in the Commonwealth, regardless of the severity of their disability, 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 Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). ...

Special Education Plan

 The school district's special education plan is a three year action plan that describes the local Board of School Director's commitment to ensure that a quality education will be provided to each of its students with a disability.  The content of the special education plan describes the special education program and services that are provided within West Middlesex Area School District as well as outside programs and services to meet the needs of all of our students.  

Penn Data Reports

  The Special Education Data Report was developed in support of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Bureau of Special Education (BSE) to assist local educational agencies in providing appropriate services to students who receive special education and to improve the quality of education for all students with disabilities. These school district level reports contain data that can be used by local school officials and all citizens to help evaluate their districts special education programs and focus their efforts on areas in need of improvement.  

Autism Awareness

  World Autism Awareness Day is a nationally observed day on the 2nd of April every year, encouraging Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about children with autism throughout the world.