MacArthur Spikes, Director
The Special Education Department provides supplemental educational services to over 900 students, ages 3-22, who are identified with disabilities in the following areas: Autism, developmental delay, emotionally disturbed, gifted, hearing impaired, learning disabled, mentally disabled (mild-profound), orthopedically impaired, severe language disordered, speech impaired, and visually impaired. In addition to specialized instruction, related services are provided in the areas of counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, orientation and mobility training, and speech therapy.
Pupil Appraisal services are performed by multi-disciplinary teams consisting of educational diagnosticians, social workers, and school psychologists. Pupil Appraisal staff, including related service staff, provide screening services and diagnostic evaluations for students with learning problems, adjustment problems, or other special needs. The staff works with parents, teachers, and other school personnel for placement of students in the most appropriate learning environment and assists in the development and implementation of educational interventions.
504 Accommodation Program
The 504 program is a part of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and is closely aligned with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both of these acts reflect anti-discrimination legislation for persons with an identified disability that substantially limits a major life function. Students with identified disabilities who do not meet special education eligibility guidelines may be eligible for a 504 plan that outlines a system of accommodations. Following a step-by-step process articulated in district and state-level procedures, School Building Level Committees at each school evaluate and plan for students needing 504 accommodations to access instructional programs.
Louisiana legislation requires identification of students with characteristics of dyslexia. Each school identifies screening specialists who receive a minimum of eighteen hours training in the characteristics and screening criteria for dyslexia. Students identified with characteristics of dyslexia by the screening specialists are served in regular class settings through small group instruction using multi-sensory methodology and a phonics-based reading program. Students whose characteristics impact instruction to a significant extent are referred for further evaluation by the School Building Level Committee to the district’s Pupil Appraisal team as possibly needing special education services.