Introduction to Special Education Services

Dr. Gwen Walker-Qualls, Interim Director of Pupil Personnel Services, 708-434-3106,
                 gwalker-qualls@oprfhs.org

A full range of programs is available to students who are determined to be eligible for services through the Special Education Division. Programming for a student with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is based on student needs and is determined at a multidisciplinary conference.

Oak Park and River Forest High School has varying levels of support to meet student needs ranging from the self-contained setting through supports in classes in the area of general education. It is the goal of the Special Education Division to continuously place students in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The instruction and curriculum in the self-contained setting parallels instruction and curriculum offered in the general education divisions. Special Education services are available to students who need support in the areas of visual, hearing, speech, physical impairment, and social work. Most students are served within the high school setting; however, some students may be better served in more appropriate specialized programs off-campus.

Persons wishing to refer a student for special education evaluation should contact the student’s counselor. The counselor will refer the student to the OPRFHS screening committee where further action will be determined. If it is determined that a comprehensive case study is needed, the student’s parents will be notified in writing. The parents must give written permission in order to proceed with diagnostic testing. The student will undergo a case study evaluation appropriate to the nature of the problems as stated in the referral. The intensity of the evaluation procedures will be determined by the complexity of the student’s problems and the amount of information necessary to determine a diagnosis and develop the Individual Educational Plan (IEP).

Upon the completion of the comprehensive case study, a multidisciplinary conference is convened to formulate program and service options. Participants in the conference include the Special Education designee chairing the meeting, all personnel involved in the evaluation, parents, other persons having significant information regarding the student, persons who may become responsible for providing the Special Education program or service, general education teachers, the student, and other individuals at the discretion of the parents or Special Education Division.

Eligibility for public school Special Education services is terminated following the granting of a high school diploma or up to age 22. Parents and students have the right to review the student’s record at any time and will be provided with copies if so desired at their expense. Parents wishing additional information can obtain a more detailed description of programs and services from the Special Education office in Room 106. Parents may also contact the student’s counselor to determine the steps necessary for a referral. A copy of the rules and regulations governing Special Education may be obtained upon request from the Illinois State Board of Education, Chicago Branch. Parents may also contact the Divisional Director of Special Education should they have any questions concerning procedural or parental rights.

Specialized Programming
As mandated by IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, formerly PL94-142 Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 1975), the Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream (TEAM) program will provide each student an appropriate education tailored to meet individual needs. Graduation eligibility can occur by the end of the fourth year or may be extended up to age 22. The goal of this program is to maximize student independence by developing the unique potential of a student. Related services such as Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Physical Therapy, Hearing, Vision, Speech and Language Therapy are delivered through an integrated model.

Our CITE (Community Integrated Transition Education) Program provides a skill-based functional curriculum that works to meet the student’s individual needs in the area of employment, education, and independent living as structured through the student’s Transition Plan identified through the IEP.