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November 17, 2021 Meeting Minutes - Virtual School, School Communication, Emotional Support

PALS Meeting Minutes

November 17, 2021 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom


Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education.


Cyber/Virtual School

We discussed the reality of choosing a school district's virtual learning option and how in some cases it can feel as if the family has chosen to home school their children only too realize they've chosen the wrong curriculum support organization. While many school districts have mastered their implementation of virtual learning, others have not. Access to teachers is the number one complaint.


Cyber charter schools may be a better option for some families. Cyber charter schools are held to the same policies as traditional schools when it comes to education all children. Pa. code 711 {.2 (a)} indicates, "This chapter specifies how the Commonwealth, through the Department, will meet its obligation to ensure that charter schools and cyber charter schools comply with IDEA and its implementing regulations in 34 CFR Part 300 (relating to assistance to states for the education of children with disabilities), and Section 504 and its implementing regulations in 34 CFR Part 104 (relating to nondiscrimination on the basis of handicap in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance)." Read more.


Some options for Pennsylvania residents include:

  • Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School (PALCS)

"For many special education students, PALCS is the ideal school. For one thing, all our teachers have training to give personal programs of instruction for every child. This wholly prepares them for students with IEPs. PALCS has a special ed department with resource teachers that work direct with parents, students, and other teachers. Lastly, because IEPs are, indeed, individualized to each student, we make accommodations on a case-by-case basis." Read more.


Information Sessions

  • Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA)

"The CCA Special Education Program’s success is due to its uniqueness. Our online special education classes offer students with special needs the ability to customize strategies and interventions of services, allowing them to be fully integrated into the cyber school program from the safe, comfortable environment of the student’s home." Read more.


Information Sessions

  • The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PaCyber)

PaCyber's special education information is not as inviting as the others. It comes more in the form of meeting requirements rather than a more personalized synopsis of their special education program. Read more.


Information Sessions


School Communications

Sometimes communication between home and school can become difficult. What can parents and caregivers do when their communications go unanswered?

  • Research your school district's communication policy. Within them you may find information about expectations regarding communication between home and school. Your school district may have policies in place regarding response time, however, a quick research of area school districts did not provide such detailed information:

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) 1012

River School District (RSD) 908 917

Fox Chapel Area School District (FCASD) 908 917

Shaler Area School District (SASD) 908 915

North Allegheny School District (NASD) 910 918

  • Although we would appreciate a timely response in 24 hours, if the situation is not urgent wait 72 hours before trying again or write to the next person up in the chain of command, teacher, principal, subject (special education) director, and so on, working your way up, if necessary, to the superintendent and then the Board of Education, followed by the State Board of Education.

  • If it is an ongoing problem, use the district complaint process; use the dispute resolution processes that IDEA gives parents. (state complaint, mediation, due process hearings). You can find these in your Procedural Safeguards.

Most importantly, remember to document all your efforts, including follow-up e-mails if your communication is in-person or over the phone.


Emotional and Behavioral Support

There are ten (10) types of education supports:

  • Autistic Support

  • Blind or Visually Impaired Support

  • Deaf or Hearing Impaired Support

  • Emotional Support

  • Gifted Support

  • Learning Support

  • Life Skills Support

  • Multiple Disabilities Support

  • Physical Support

  • Speech and Language Support

The definition offered by PaTTAN as indicated in Pa. § 300.8 (4)(i) of a student needing Emotional Support:

Child with a disability § 300.8 (4)(i) Emotional disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance: A. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. B. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. C. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. D. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. E. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.


 Characteristics of a student needing Emotional Support may include: 

Academic  Failure or severe deficiencies

Inattention  Lack of motivation  Behavioral  Mood swings  Appears depressed  Inappropriate responses to situations Impaired interpersonal relationships

Low self-concept


What are some Emotional Behavioral Disorders that fall under Emotional Disturbrance?

Read more from PaTTAN's A Leader’s Guide to Effective Emotional Support Programs and Services.


PaTTAN also offers a dedicated site for Behavioral Supports for Families including a multitude of resources.


What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment?

Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is a process for identifying problem behaviors and developing interventions to improve or eliminate those behaviors. An FBA consists of information-gathering procedures that result in a hypothesis about the function(s) that the behavior is serving for the student. The process also results in the indetification of environmental antecedents (what happened before the behavior occurred) and consequences (what happened after the behavior occurred) that are maintaining the behavior. The information gathered is used to develop an effective and efficient behavior plan.


Read more for PaTTAN's Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) Process document.

Next Meeting: December 15, 2021 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.

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SPECIAL NOTE

All meetings will be held virtually until further notice.

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