Each district or Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) must offer a continuum of services to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. The IEP team selects the program or combination of programs that allows the student to access a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) with maximum opportunity for interactions with non-disabled peers.
Considerations for determining the least restrictive environment include the following:
- The child’s placement is as close as possible to the child’s home.
- Unless the IEP agrees to a placement in a different facility, the child is educated in their neighborhood school.
- In selecting program and placement, consideration is given to any potential harmful effects on the child.
- A child with a disability is not removed from education in an age-appropriate regular classroom solely due to the need for modifications to the general curriculum. The team may consider self-contained special education classes only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in the general education setting with the use of supplementary aids and services, including curriculum modifications and behavioral supports, cannot be achieved satisfactorily. These requirements also apply to separate schooling or other removal of pupils from the general education environment.
- In providing or arranging for the provision of nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, the district will ensure the child with the disability participates with non-disabled children in those services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of that child.
Continuum of Services
Lucia Mar Unified School District (LMUSD) and the San Luis Obispo SELPA provide a full continuum of services for students eligible for special education and related services. Central to this provision is the belief that special education is a service and not a place. The continuum of options includes, but are not necessarily limited to, any combination of the following:
- General education classroom with specialized academic instruction
- General education classroom with specialist services
- General education classroom with related services
- Special education classroom with specialized academic instruction
- Instruction in settings other than classrooms with specialized academic instruction
- Itinerant instruction in classrooms, learning centers and settings other than classrooms
- Instruction in classrooms throughout the SELPA consortium for individuals with exceptional needs who require intensive instruction and training
- Instruction in the home, hospitals, or other institutions
Mild/Moderate Education Specialists supplement the general education program to meet the needs of students identified as requiring individualized support in specific areas, but who are able to satisfy the general education curriculum without modification. The mild/moderate Education Specialist will support students who are in the general education environment for the majority of the instructional day. Effective methods of instruction for this program include, but are not limited to, direct instruction, small group instruction, supported teaching, and collaboration.
Moderate/Severe Education Specialists provide special education and related services to students requiring modifications in order to access the general education curriculum. Students must be given ample opportunity to attempt satisfactory achievement in the general education curriculum with a range of supplementary aids and services before considering modifications or alternate settings.
Specialized Academic Instruction
Specialized academic instruction (SAI) is an instructional approach that systematically tailors teaching strategies and methods to meet the unique needs of students with learning disabilities and other types of learning disorders. Under 34 C.F.R. Section 300.39, this specifically designed instruction means adapting, as appropriate, to the needs of an eligible child. Examples of SAI include:
- Modifications, accommodations, and/or adaptations of instructional materials
- Modifications, accommodations, and/or adaptations to curriculum/lessons
- Collaboration and consultation with teachers, specialists, and parents
- Physical assistance
- Behavior plans
- Use of manipulatives and/or other kinesthetic resources during content lessons
- Computer assisted instruction
- Use of visual, written, or picture prompts/aids during direct instruction
- Audiobooks, enlarged print, auditory equipment, adaptive technology, etc.
- ** If the IEP team feels that a student may require 1:1 support from an Instructional Assistant, please refer to the SELPA's SCIA process.
Accommodations vs Modifications
The primary focus of special education is to provide all students with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Oftentimes, students require specialized instruction in order to access this appropriate education, which may include changes to the environment, materials, mode of instruction, setting, or other adjustments.
Accommodations: An accommodation adjusts the "how" of instruction. Accommodations do not alter the level of cognitive difficulty or the learning expectations, but rather allow the student to access the curriculum or demonstrate their understanding while minimizing the impact of their disability.
Modifications: A modification adjusts the "what" of instruction. Modifications do alter the level of cognitive difficulty or the learning outcomes for students. These changes to the curriculum or instruction impact a student's progress in the general curriculum and may impact the eventual attainment of a diploma or a certificate of completion.
- Teacher-provided notes or outlines
- Wide-ruled paper
- Preferential seating
- Extended time on assignments or tests
- Chunking of assignments
- Computer use (typed responses)
- Large print
- ASL interpreter
- Multi-modal instruction
- Alternate curriculum
- Reduced assignments
- Simplified vocabulary
- Adapted texts
- Omitted concepts
- Calculator (may be an accommodation, depending on learning goal)
- Pass/Fail grading
Under Section 300.34 of IDEA, related services include transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpretation services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluative purposes. Related services also include school health services and school nurse services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training. Qualified specialists provide students with related services specified in the IEP. Specialists may work individually with students, in groups, or consult with a student’s teachers and/or parents. Instruction focuses on the objectives in the student’s IEP necessary for the pupil to receive educational benefit from special education and to access the general curriculum. Examples of Related Services include, but are not limited to:
Speech and Language Therapy: These services are provided for students identified as having a discrepancy in expressive and/or receptive language with inappropriate or inadequate speech development. Services may be provided by an aide working under the direct supervision of a credentialed language, speech, and hearing specialist if specified in the IEP.
Adapted Physical Education (APE): Direct physical education services provided by an adapted physical education specialist to individuals with exceptional needs who require developmental or corrective instruction that cannot be adequately satisfied in other physical education programs, as indicated by an assessment and evaluation of motor skills performance and other areas of need. Teachers instructing adapted physical education shall have a credential authorizing the teaching of adapted physical education as established by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Audiological Services: Services may include adaptations in curriculum, media, the environment, as well as instruction in special skills for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The person providing audiological services shall hold a valid credential with a specialization in clinical or rehabilitative services in audiology.
Physical and Occupational Therapy: This is a therapy/service to individuals with exceptional needs with severe fine or gross motor delays, and/or sensory integration issues that may adversely affect educational performance. Services are provided based upon assessment and recommendation of the Individualized Education Program team. A physical therapist shall be currently licensed by the Board of Quality Assurance of the State of California and meet the educational standards of the Physical Therapy Examining Committee. An occupational therapist shall be currently registered with the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Vision Services: Services may include adaptations in curriculum, media, the environment (orientation and mobility), instruction in special skills needed for students with visual impairments, as well as consultative services to pupils, parents and other school personnel. The person providing services shall hold an appropriate credential with specialization in the area of visual impairment.
Counseling and Guidance Services: Services to students experiencing difficulty in meeting educational objectives due to inappropriate classroom behaviors, difficulty with social interactions, or emotional problems. The individual performing counseling services must possess a valid Pupil Personnel Services credential.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHH): Services may include speech, signing, reading, auditory training, and other adaptations in curriculum, media, and the environment. An individual holding an appropriate credential who has training, experience and proficient communication skills for educating pupils with hearing impairments will provide services.
Transportation: Provided for special education students as determined by the IEP team. The team must complete the Transportation Eligibility form and document its determination on the Educational Setting page.
Vocational Education / Career Development: May include prevocational/vocational programs within the school and community which assess work-related skills, interests, aptitudes and assist individuals in developing attitudes, self-confidence, and vocational competencies to become work-ready and obtain job placement.
The obligation of the Lucia Mar Unified School District is to ensure “that all individuals with exceptional needs…participate in a free appropriate public education and that the special education instructions and services for these persons are needed in order to ensure them of the right to an appropriate educational opportunity to meet their unique needs.” EC56000
To accomplish this goal, the IEP team considers and exhausts all appropriate services within a full continuum of program options. If the IEP team determines that a public school program cannot meet the needs of a student as outlined in the IEP, then the possibility of nonpublic, nonsectarian school placements may be explored by the IEP team.