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Introduction 

During the 2011-2012 school year, the district established a Strategic Planning Committee with the intent to identify and target areas of need for improvement.  In collaboration with the Warner Study Team, University of Rochester, a Perception Data Survey and Focus Group Information Study was completed.  As a result, the district created a Special Education Task Force.

 The Task Force met to review the district’s special education continuum of services, make recommendations for improvement, enhance our collaborative approach to supporting students with disabilities in general education settings, develop transition services, and make sure we are always adhering to the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). 

 The district is committed to utilizing Response to Intervention (RtI) and its general education resources through interventions and strategies prior to the provision of special education to our students. The Homer Central School District Response to Intervention (RtI) plan was developed to meet the requirements of Section 117.3 to ensure student’s progress toward meeting state standards.  RtI is the practice of providing high-quality instruction/intervention matched to student needs and using learning rate over time and level of performance to make important educational decisions about individual students (NASDSE, 2006).  RtI represents an important educational strategy to close achievement gaps for all students, including students at risk, students with disabilities, and English language learners, by preventing smaller learning problems from becoming insurmountable gaps.  It has also been shown to lead to more appropriate identification of and interventions for students with learning disabilities.  Each day educators make important decisions about students’ educational programs.  These include decisions as to whether a student is struggling to meet the standards set for all students, if they need changes in the form of early intervention and instruction, or might have a learning disability.  This decision as to whether a student has a learning disability must be based on extensive and accurate information leading to the determination that the student’s learning difficulties are not the result of the instructional program or approach.  RtI is an effective and instructionally relevant process to inform these decisions.  These services are aimed at helping students meet and/or exceed the New York State Learning Standards as measured by New York State Assessments.  These services are available to students with disabilities on the same basis as non-disabled students; however, services shall be provided to the extent consistent with the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  It is with this spirit that we hope that all students learning difficulties will be adequately remediated at their individual level.  By doing so we are giving every student the opportunity to succeed to his or her fullest potential.  While some students may reach the point of a formal special education referral and evaluation, others may never require that level of intervention.  The process for formal evaluation is outlined in the following manual.  Additionally, the district’s RtI procedural manual is included within the appendices as an integral part of the departments overall operations manual.

 This Operations Manual and its appendices were developed with the purpose of providing our staff with a reference tool for newly hired employees, special educators, general educators, related service providers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, and district administrators.

 It is our hope that this is a living breathing document and that we will continue to strive towards improving our department and the services for our students.