Cypress School District

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Special Education

The Cypress School District delivers special education services in a variety of settings to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. Our goal is to provide a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Specialized academic instruction is provided for students with disabilities in preschool through sixth grade.

Identification

Students are identified for special education in one or more of 13 eligibility categories, and California Education Code defines how students are determined eligible within each category. Services and supports are determined for each student through the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process, which includes parents, teachers, administrators, and special education staff.

It is the District’s responsibility to find students who are in need of special education services. This requirement is known as Child Find. The process for finding students who may be eligible for services usually occurs through parent referral or the Student Study Team (SST) process.  An individual teacher cannot refer a student for assessment for special education services outside of the SST process.  For children three years of age or younger, referrals may also be made by outside agencies. Given the legal requirement that a student shall be referred for special education instruction and services only after the resources of the regular education program have been considered and, where appropriate, utilized, the SST process is a critical step in determining appropriate referrals for formal assessment.

Least Restrictive Environment

Once a student has been assessed and determined to be eligible for special education services, the district has the legal obligation to provide an education for each identified student in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible. That means all students are educated in the general education setting when practicable and receive additional services to either replace or supplement what is necessary for that student to be successful. 

As a means of educating students in the least restrictive environment, the Cypress School District has implemented the Learning Center Model at some of its schools.  The Learning Centers enables staff to provide targeted academic support for any student who needs it, not just for those students who have qualified for special education services. The Learning Center Model supports our belief that special education is a service, not a place. 

Advantages of the Learning Center Model

Removes the stigma of special education

Special education students participate in the school program and are part of the larger school community. Students start the school day in a general education classroom and rotate into the Learning Center, as needed, to receive the appropriate level of academic support. General education students may also rotate into the Learning Center for academic intervention.

Supports academic achievement
Time spent in the Learning Center is based on academic need, and students are grouped to receive intervention. Providing daily targeted, small group instruction results in accelerated learning and academic progress.

General education students may also benefit from academic intervention in the Learning Center and do not require special education identification to access needed supports.

Helps prevent student failure
Students can receive assistance in the Learning Center as soon as academic needs are identified. Through the SST process and an analysis of student achievement data, staff can identify the appropriate intervention(s) and apply them sooner rather than later. This prevents students from falling further behind while awaiting special education identification. It allows students to receive the academic support they need immediately and helps maintain their self-esteem.

Least Restrictive Environment
Some special education students who are fully included in the general education program require instructional assistant/paraeducator support. Access to the Learning Center can reduce the need for this level of support, which in turn helps students become more independent over time.