Mrs. Laura Koehle - Director of Special Education
The Hollidaysburg Area School District provides a wide variety of programs to meet the needs of students with a disability. Students participating in a special education program are provided with an individually designed educational program to meet their unique educational needs. Programs are either operated by the district or provided by contract with Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 or neighboring school districts.
Educational disabilities include autism, deaf-blindness, emotional disturbance, deafness, hearing impairment, specific learning disability, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairments, speech or language impairment, visual impairment including blindness, and traumatic brain injury.
The Hollidaysburg Area School District has developed procedures for screening and evaluating school-aged children living within the district that are experiencing academic and/or emotional/behavioral difficulty. This includes children who are residents of the district but attend nonpublic schools.
If you have a reason to believe that your child may have an educational disability, contact his/her school guidance counselor first. The guidance counselor can explain the process of screening and if needed, evaluation.
State and federal laws and regulations outline parent’s rights and safeguards to be followed in providing free and appropriate education. A copy of procedural safeguards that explain parent rights and confidentiality issues are provided to parents when the evaluation process starts.
Special Education Programs
The Hollidaysburg Area School District strives to ensure, in its special education programs, that all students with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The district realizes that the quality of special education programs for such children is achieved by having high expectations and access to the general education curriculum to the maximum extent possible.
District educators are fully committed to individualizing instruction and supporting students in general education classes. General and special educators work together as a unified team to enhance their efforts and resources towards providing special learners with an equal education opportunity while meeting their instructional needs.
The school district conducts screenings and evaluations for children who are thought to be gifted and in need of gifted education. Again, the first contact for parents would be with the guidance counselor.
Gifted programming is operated by the school district and focuses on enrichment and acceleration activities that supplement the regular education program. Instructional services are provided through direct instruction, consultation, and classroom enrichment.
Copies of parent rights and confidentiality issues are provided to parents when the evaluation process starts.
Description of Special Education Programs and Services
(NOTE: All special education classes focus on the individual needs of the students as determined by a team composed of parents and professionals)
1. Early Intervention/Pre-School Services (Contracted through Appalachia I.U. 08)
Federal and state law requires that free and appropriate pre-school programs be provided to all children with disabilities or developmental delays ages 3 to 5 years old who need specialized instruction. The evaluation process for pre-schoolers is very similar to the special education process regarding school-aged children.
Appalachia IU8 information regarding Preschool and Early Intervention
Center for Disease Control (CDC) information regarding childhood milestones and what to do if families have concerns
2. Learning Support
Learning Support services are provided to students with a variety of disabilities based upon the individual student’s need for the service. Often, students with specific learning disabilities or mild intellectual disabilities who meet eligibility requirements and demonstrate a need receive Learning Support services. Sometimes, students with other educational disabilities may also demonstrate a need for Learning Support and receive these services. The amount of Learning Support services provided varies and is in relation to individual student needs. Learning Support services are available in all buildings and can be provided at an Itinerant, Supplemental, or Full-Time level. Interventions provided by Learning Support services can include - but are not limited to - accommodations, modifications, pre-teaching and re-teaching of concepts, alternate curriculum, and direct instruction. Learning Support teachers are certified Special Education teachers.
The Hollidaysburg Area School District supports an inclusive model, where students with disabilities are provided with opportunities to participate in the regular education curriculum to the fullest extent possible. For this reason, a co-teaching model is being implemented throughout the district. In a co-teaching model, a regular education teacher and a special education teacher co-teach a class that consists of students with and without educational disabilities. Students with disabilities are able to more fully participate in the regular education curriculum while being provided with the needed accommodations and modifications provided through Learning Support services.
4. Speech & Language Support
Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Speech and Language therapists provide students with itinerant services in all district buildings.
5. Hearing Impaired Support Services (Contracted through Appalachia I.U. 08)
A Hearing Impairment refers to an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Services are provided at all district buildings on an itinerant level.
6. Visual Impairment Support Services (Contracted through Appalachia I.U. 08)
Visual impairment including blindness refers to an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Services are provided at all district buildings on an itinerant level.
7. Multiple Disability Support (Contracted through Appalachia I.U. 08)
Students assigned to classes for Multiple Disabilities Support have two or more disabilities, the combination of which results in needs requiring intensive and multifaceted service delivery. Students are placed in the program when the Individualized Education Program (IEP) planning team determines that the student has multiple disabilities and the need for specially designed instruction can be met in a specific class. Classes are offered at C.W. Longer Elementary, Foot of Ten Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High.
8. Autistic Support
Autism refers to a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Autistic support services are provided within the district at all buildings on an itinerant level of service.
9. Emotional Support
Students are referred to the emotional support programs because their emotional and behavioral needs interfere with their ability to successfully benefit from academic instruction or interfere with others’ right to learn. Programs are available in all buildings. Itinerant level services are provided at the elementary, junior, and senior high levels. The Junior High and Senior High buildings also offer a full-time emotional support classroom that includes a classroom teacher, a full-time mental health counselor, and a classroom aide.
10. Work-Experience Program
The Hollidaysburg Area School District offers a work-experience program for students receiving special education services at the High School level. The students are provided instruction relating to work-related issues and receive support while in positions of employment. For more information regarding this program, please contact the Senior High.