Special Education Services Update

March 23, 2020

Dear families of students receiving special education services, 

The North Kitsap School District continues to prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff, and community as we navigate these unprecedented times.  Recently, information was sent out to all NKSD families about keeping students engaged, remaining connected, and providing a variety of optional educational activities aligned with relevant grade levels and content areas.  I have been working alongside our Teaching and Learning Department and want to assure you that the District is committed to equitably meeting the needs of our students who receive special education services.  

We are dedicated to support students and families during this time, and we will be available to communicate via email and other electronic means during regular work hours. Your child’s case manager and any related service providers (SLP, OT, PT) that work with your child will be contacting you and/or your student on a regular basis, beginning the week of March 23, to maintain relationships and ensure access to enrichment resources that meet the unique needs of your student.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has provided guidance regarding special education services and timelines. Their identified priorities are: 

1. Health and safety of students, staff, and communities. 

2. Resources for supporting educational engagement during school closures.

3. Maintain timelines for re-evaluations and annual IEPs to the extent possible.  

With these priorities in mind, we have created the following FAQ to address questions that you may have. It is our intent to continue to update this plan as we receive new information from OSPI. 

 

Will my child still receive special education services during the closure? 

If school is closed for all students, special education services will be on hold. However, it is our desire to assist parents and caretakers in supporting their children during this time. With that purpose in mind, the district has created a selection of resources that provide ongoing educational support ideas that can be implemented at home. These resources can be found on the district website.  Teachers and related service providers (SLP, OT, PT) will be available via email and will be communicating weekly to share information and enrichment opportunities with you and your student(s). Please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher, IEP case manager, or related service provider if you have questions about how you can provide support for your child at home during the closure. 

 

What if my child’s reevaluation and/or annual IEP is due during the closure? 

Special education staff and IEP teams may still hold reevaluation and IEP team meetings during the closure. However, these meetings will need to occur via an online platform (e.g. Zoom, Skype, etc.) or telephone conference call. District staff will be making every effort to maintain reevaluation and IEP timelines during the school closure. We have developed staff resources to allow for online meetings, and we ask for your understanding as we work to develop these new norms and systems of operation. If your child has a reevaluation or IEP that will be due soon, you can anticipate that the evaluation or IEP case manager will be reaching out to schedule meetings.

If you believe that you need an in-person meeting in order to meaningfully participate in the development of your child’s IEP or their eligibility determination, please notify your child’s IEP or evaluation case manager when they contact you to schedule the meeting. Your meeting will be scheduled in a timely manner after school resumes. Per guidance from OSPI, we will be documenting any missed deadlines due to the closure. 

 

What will happen when my student returns to school? 

Special education services will resume immediately. If IEP or evaluation timelines have been missed during the school closure, case managers will be in contact with you to schedule those meetings. If evaluations that were in process could not be completed during the closure, teams will complete them as quickly as possible. Current guidance from OSPI is that IEPs or evaluations that expired during the school closure will need to be completed within 30 days once school resumes.

Upon return from the closure, IEP teams may need to convene to discuss your child’s progress and performance and consider making changes to services as a result of the closure. These data-based decisions will be made by teams on an individual student basis.  

 

We will continue to communicate with parents and guardians as we receive new guidance and information. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we share this new experience. Though we are working remotely, we are monitoring emails and voicemails and welcome your questions. You can also reach me via email lbuijten@nkschools.org or via phone at 360-396-3072.

 

Sincerely, 

Lori Buijten

Director of Special Education