• Highlands School District

    Special Education 

    Director of Student Services
    724-226-2400, ext. 5650
    724-226-2400, ext. 5650
    Identification of Special Needs Children
    According to state and federal special education regulations, annual public notice to parents of children who reside within the school district is required according to child find responsibilities. The Highlands School District is responsible for locating, identifying and educating children who are in need of special education. This notice shall inform all parents throughout the Highlands School District of the child identification activities and of the procedures followed to ensure confidentiality of information pertaining to students with disabilities and eligible young children. If a parent believes that their child may be eligible for special education, the parent should contact the Student Services office at 724-226-2400, ext. 5650. If anyone in the community is aware of a child with a disability such as intellectual disabilities, blindness, deafness or a physical disability who is not attending school, please notify Student Services.

    It is the policy of the Highlands School District that every child shall be provided with the opportunity for a free, public, and appropriate education.  To the maximum extent possible, exceptional children shall be educated in the most appropriate physical, social, and academic environment available.  Exceptional children shall be, as deemed individually appropriate, included in regular programs, placed in itinerant programs, and/or placed in part-time or full-time special classes as determined by the IEP Team.

    To qualify as an exceptional student, a child must be of school age, in need of specially-designed instruction, and meet eligibility criteria for mentally gifted and/or one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities, as set forth in Pennsylvania Department of Education standards: autism, deaf/blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific hearing disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment.

    The district provides identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services individualized to meet specific needs. These services are provided at no cost to parents in compliance with state and federal law, and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefits.

    To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an on-going basis. These screening activities include: a review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, physical and speech/language screening; and review by a building-level Instructional Support Team. When screening results suggest that a student might be exceptional, the district will seek parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE). Parents who suspect that their child is exceptional may request a multidisciplinary evaluation at any time by a written request to the school principal or the Director of Student Services.

    Services designed to meet the needs of exceptional students include the annual development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), tri-annual multidisciplinary re-evaluation, supportive intervention in the regular class, supplemental intervention in the regular class, or in a special education itinerant, supplemental, and full-time special education class in a regular school, or placement in a full-time special education class at a location other than the regular school.

    The extent of special education services, and the location for the delivery of such services are determined by the IEP team, and are based on the student's identified needs and abilities, chronological age, and the level of intensity of the specified intervention. The district provides related services, such as transportation, physical therapy and occupational therapy that may be required for the student to benefit from the special education program.

    Parents of exceptional students should know that their children have the same rights to participate in extracurricular activities as do non-exceptional children.