Welcome to the Student Services (Pupil Services) department. Our team is here to support students and families across all areas of a learner’s education. We are a passionate team whose mission is to promote the growth of every individual.
In order to ensure The Success of Every Learner, the Pupil Services department works with all stakeholder groups to provide services for all students. Services include special education support, alternative education, and serving students with disabilities.
In addition to special education services, the pupil services department provides support in the areas of gifted and talented, nursing services, counseling, attendance, interventions, and supports the McKinney-Vento Act. By partnering with parents, general and special educators work collaboratively and individually to address the unique learning needs of students with disabilities and individualized learning plans.
Crisis Text Line
Text “PA” to 741741
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Gifted and Talented
- Social Work
- School Psychology
- Olweus Bullying Prevention
- Non-District Providers
- Parent Training Opportunities
- Policies & Procedures
- Links and Resources
The Gifted Program in the Susquehanna Township School District is a specialized program for those students who demonstrate high level thinking skills, academic creativity, exhibit leadership skills, communication skills, foreign language aptitude, technology expertise, perform above grade level on standardized achievement tests; and/or who consistently excel in the regular classroom.
A yearly meeting will be held with the student’s parents, teachers, and/or administrators to discuss the students current GIEP, academic progress, and to write new annual goals, and short term learning outcomes for the following school year. Students can be referred for a pre-screening via teacher and/or parent request.
- Disclaimer - Benchmark assessment data, student grades, and teacher/parent input are included as part of the pre-screening process.
- Notice Welcome
- Section I: Prior Written Notice of Action/Refusal to Act
- Section II: When Prior Written Parental Consent Must Be Obtained
- Section III: Parental Refusal to Give Consent
- Section IV: Independent Educational Evaluation
- Section V: Dispute Resolution Systems
- Section VI: Student's Status During Proceedings
- Section VII: Applicable Laws and Regulations
This notice describes your rights and the procedures that safeguard your rights as found in Chapter 16 of the State Board of Education's Regulations (22 Pa Code). These regulations require school districts to provide gifted education services to students who have been identified as gifted and in need of specially designed instruction. These services must be described in a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP).
The information contained in this Notice is important to you and your child. Please take time to review it. If you need clarification, you can seek help from personnel in your school district. You also have the right to be informed of organizations that are established to assist parents in understanding their rights under these laws. A list of some of these parent assistance resources can be found below.
If you have a concern about your child's educational program, you may wish to contact your child's teachers, principal, or district administrators. This type of communication is often helpful in resolving concerns. You also have the right to initiate due process procedures as described in Section V of this notice.
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of Teaching and Learning 333 Market Street, 3rd Floor Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333 717.705.6359
Bureau of Special Education 333 Market Street, 7th Floor Harrisburg, PA 17126 717.783.6134
Pennsylvania Bar Association
P.O. Box 186 Harrisburg, PA 17108 800.222.3353
Pennsylvania Office for Dispute Resolution (free for parents/guardians)
6340 Flank Drive Harrisburg, PA 17112
Special Education Consult Line: 800.879.2301 or (locally) 717.541.4960 ext. 3332
Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, Inc. (PAGE)
P.O. Box 312 Northampton, PA 18067
Helpline: 888.736.6443 www.giftedpage.org
A school district must provide parents with written notice 10 school days prior to one or more of the following events:
The school district proposes to conduct an initial Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation (GMDE) or reevaluation of the student. Notices given under these circumstances are either the Permission to Evaluate or the Notice of Intent to Reevaluate.
- The school district proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the student. Notice given under these circumstances is the Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA).
- The school district proposes or refuses to make any significant changes in the student's Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP). Notice given under these circumstances is the Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA).
Prior written notices must be written in language understandable to the general public. If necessary, the content of notices must be communicated orally in the native language or directly so that parents understand the content of the notice.
Prior written notices must contain:
- A description of the action proposed or refused by the school district, an explanation of why the school district proposes or refuses to take the action, and a description of any options the school district considered and the reasons why those options were rejected.
- A description of each evaluation procedure, type of test, record or report the school district used as a basis for the district's action.
- A description of other factors relevant to the school district's action.
- A full explanation of the parental rights or procedural safeguards available to the parents or the student, including the right to an impartial hearing.
- The address and telephone numbers of organizations that are available to assist the parents.
- The timelines involved in conducting an evaluation, developing a gifted individualized education program (GIEP), and initiating a hearing.
- A statement informing parents that an outside evaluation submitted by the parents must be considered.
A school district may request (in writing) a due process hearing to proceed with an initial evaluation or an initial educational placement when the district has not been able to obtain consent from the parents of a student who is thought to be gifted.
A school district may also request (in writing) a due process hearing when a parent disagrees with the identification, evaluation or proposed educational placement or educational services for a student who is gifted.
When parents disagree with the school district's proposal, they have the following formal systems available to them for dispute resolution: Mediation
Mediation is a process in which parents and agencies involved in a dispute regarding special education for gifted students agree to obtain the assistance of an impartial mediator in attempting to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. There is no cost to the parties.
Discussions occurring during the mediation session are confidential, and no part of the mediation conference is to be recorded.
- During a mediation conference the mediator will meet with the parties together in a joint session and individually in private sessions.
- The designated agency involved in the dispute must send representative who has the authority to commit resources to the resolution agree upon.
- Any agreement reached by the parties during the mediation process must be converted into writing and placed in the student's educational record.
- The written mediation agreement is not a confidential document, shall be incorporated into the student’s GIEP, and is binding on the parties.
- The mediation agreement shall be enforceable by the Department of Education.
- A GIEP team shall be convened within 10 school days following the mediation agreement, to incorporate the mediation agreement into the GIEP where necessary.
- When the mediation conference results in a resolution of the dispute, each party shall receive an executed copy of the agreement at the conclusion of the mediation conference.
- Mediation may not be used to deny or delay a party's right to an impartial due-process hearing
Impartial Due Process Hearings:
- Parents may request an impartial due process hearing in writing concerning the identification, evaluation or educational placement of, or the provision of a gifted education to, a student who is gifted or who is thought to be gifted if the parents disagree with the school district's identification, evaluation or placement or the provision of gifted education to the student.
- A school district may request a due process hearing in writing to proceed with an initial evaluation or an initial educational placement when the district has not been able to obtain consent from the parents or in regard to a matter in number one above.
- The due process hearing will be conducted by and held in the local school district at a place reasonably convenient to the parents. At the request of the parents, the hearing may be held in the evening.
- The due process hearing will be an oral, personal hearing and will be open to the public unless the parents request a closed hearing 5 days in advance of the hearing. If the hearing is open, the decision issued in the case will be available to the public. If the hearing is closed, the decision will be treated as a record of the student and will not be available to the public.
- The decision of the hearing officer will include findings of fact, a discussion and conclusions of law. Although technical rules of evidence will not be followed, the decision will be based solely upon the substantial evidence presented during the course of the hearing.
- The hearing officer will have the authority to order that additional evidence be presented.
- A written transcript of the hearing will, upon request, be made and provided to the parents at no cost.
- Parents may be presented by legal counsel and accompanied and advised by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to students who are gifted.
- A parent or parent's representative will have access to educational records, including tests or reports upon which the proposed action is based.
- A party may prohibit the introduction of evidence at the hearing that has not been disclosed to that party at least 5 calendar days before the hearing.
- A party has the right to present evidence and testimony, including expert medical, psychological or educational testimony.
- The decision of the impartial hearing officer may be appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction.
- The Secretary may contract for coordination services in support of hearings conducted by local school districts. The coordination services will be provided on behalf of the school districts and may include arrangements for stenographic services, arrangements for hearing officer services, scheduling of hearings and other functions in support of procedural consistency and the rights of the parties to hearings.
- If a school district chooses not to utilize the coordination services, it may conduct hearings independent of the services if its procedures similarly provide for procedural consistency and ensure the rights of the parties. In the absence of its own procedures, a school district that receives a request for an impartial due process must forward, without delay, the request to the agency providing coordination services.
- A hearing officer may not be an employee or agent of a school district in which the parents or student resides, or of an agency which is responsible for the education or care of the student. A hearing officer must promptly inform the parties of a personal or professional relationship the officer has or has had with any of the parties.
The following timelines apply to due process hearings:
- The hearing must be held within 30 calendar days after a parent's or school district's initial request for a hearing.
- The hearing officer's decision must be issued within 45 calendar days after the parent's or school district's request for a hearing.
- Each school district must keep a list of the persons who serve as hearing officers. The list must include the qualifications of each hearing officer. School districts must provide parents with information as to the availability of the list and must make copies of it available upon request.
A school social worker’s responsibility is to help parents, students, and school staff identify needs that interfere with learning, and work with students to get the services they need. School social workers can assist with behavioral concerns, mental health concerns, academic concerns, and positive behavioral supports, as well as consultation with teachers, parents, and school district administrators. School social workers can assist with the coordination of family, school, and community resources to enable each student to learn as effectively as possible.
The School psychologists in our district provide a range of services to support students’ academic achievement and social–emotional well-being. These include community partnerships, leadership on the MTSS team, consultation with teachers, collaboration with related services, direct student services, evaluations to determine eligibility for special education and/or gifted supports services, and comprehensive supports. Additionally, we are particularly skilled in analysis of building-wide, classroom-level and individual student data. Through participation on various teams, we further support and coordinate initiatives to improve school climate. Lastly, we are fully committed to working with you and the rest of the district staff to continue to energize and empower our students on a daily basis.
Susquehanna Township School District uses certain procedures for locating, identifying, and evaluating the specific needs of school-aged students requiring special programs or services. Routine screenings of a child’s hearing are done in kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 3, 7 and 11. Vision is screened in every grade level, while speech and language is screened in kindergarten and on a referral basis. Also, scoliosis screening is conducted in grades 6, 7 and 8. New students are screened as they enter school, and teachers continually assess gross motor, fine motor, academic and social/emotional skills. Specifics from these screenings are noted in the child’s file, as appropriate. These records are always open to parents and educators on a “need to know” basis. Other persons and agencies must secure written permission from parents to gain access, and any communication must be in English or the native language of the child or parent.
When a child experiences difficulty in the classroom, screening information will be gathered by a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Team located within the child’s school to determine his or her specific needs or to document the need for further evaluation. If it is agreed upon that a child may need additional services, the MTSS Team will make adjustments relative to keeping the child within regular classroom expectations. If progress is not made with this team involvement, parents may be asked to give written permission for an Evaluation that may include individual professional evaluations, input from the parents, reports provided by professionals through the parent and information from the student’s educational records. When all evaluations are completed, a Multi-Disciplinary Team will be convened to discuss the information collected and make the determination if the child is eligible and in need of Specially Designed Instruction. If the child is eligible, an Individual Education Program will be developed. Parents are then presented with a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) with which they may or may not agree. If parents or district are at odds over programming recommendations, the issue may be taken to mediation, a prehearing conference, or a due process proceeding.
Parents who believe their child is in need of special education services may request that an Evaluation be conducted. Parents believing that their child may be in need of Gifted Support instruction may likewise request a gifted screening be completed. Either request shall be in writing, addressed to the building principal, and should explain why the parents believe that an Evaluation or screening is necessary.
WHAT IS RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION?
MTSS is a framework that many schools use to provide targeted support to struggling students. It focuses on the “whole child.” MTSS supports academic growth and achievement and it also includes behavior and social-emotional needs.
Multi-Tiered System of Support is a proactive approach schools use to help all students including struggling learners. It is not a special kind of program or book. This process begins with high-quality instruction for all children in the general education classroom. Struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity. Progress is closely monitored to ensure each student is responding to the interventions provided.
The goal of MTSS is to help all students be successful.
- Universal Screening
- Progress Monitoring
- The Multi-Tiered System of Support
- Data-Based Decision Making
- Parent Resources
The Olweus Program is a comprehensive approach that includes schoolwide, classroom, individual, and community components. The program is focused on long-term change that creates a safe and positive school climate. It is designed and evaluated for use in elementary, middle, junior high and high schools (K-12). The program’s goals are:
- reduce and prevent bullying problems among school children
- improve peer relations at school
The program has been found to reduce bullying among children, improve the social climate of classrooms, and reduce related antisocial behaviors, such as vandalism and truancy. The Olweus Program has been implemented in more than a dozen countries around the world, and in thousands of schools in the United States.
STSD has an Olweus Team in each of our 4 buildings. The teams are responsible for a kick-off event in the Fall of each school year, booster events throughout the year, as well providing each building with classroom lessons. The Olweus Program also meshes with our PBIS teams to ensure a common language is spoken to ensure a positive school climate.
Susquehanna Township School District is supported by stakeholders in our communities. These providers support our students in a variety on manners.
Who is Communities in School?
Communities In Schools (CIS)is the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization bringing coordinated, integrated student services into public schools to meet the needs of at-risk students. Our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
Struggling students and their families have a hard time accessing and navigating the maze of public and private services. There may be ample resources in a community, but rarely is there someone on the ground who is able to connect these resources with the schools and students that need them most. Through a school-based coordinator, we bring community resources into schools to empower success for all students by removing barriers for vulnerable students at risk of dropping out, keeping kids in schools and on the path to graduation and leveraging evidence, relationships and local resources to drive results.
Here are some examples of the supports we provide to students in schools across the country:
- Academic Assistance
- Attendance Monitoring
- Family Engagement
- Basic Needs
- Life Skills
- Behavioral Interventions
- Mental Health
- College & Career Prep
- Physical Health
- Community and Service Learning
Community resources provide the substance to our “Five Basics” model that has allowed our students to flourish over the last 41 years.
The 5 Basics:
- A one-on-one caring relationship with an adult.
- A safe place to learn and grow.
- A healthy start and a healthy future.
- A marketable skill to use upon graduation.
- A chance to give back to peers and the community.
Communities In Schools Pennsylvania (CISPA) is comprised of four affiliates, serving more than 164 schools sites, and a State Office in Harrisburg. In 2017, CISPA served over 46,000 students, and 95% met social & emotional learning goals, 86% met college readiness goals, and 97% stayed in school!
Community Services Group (CSG)
School-based Outpatient Therapy has been provided in the Susquehanna Township School District by Community Services Group (CSG) since 2017. School-based outpatient therapy is a service that allows for students to receive mental health treatment during the course of the school day and on-site at their school building. Services are provided by licensed clinicians and begin with an initial intake process, during which families and students can discuss concerns and collaboratively create treatment goals. Examples of presenting concerns successfully treated with school-based therapy include anxiety, depression, adjustment-related concerns, attention challenges, grief and loss, and oppositional behavior. Referrals can be made by talking to your student's school counselor or social worker.
In-School Wrap-Around Programming
Intensive Mental Health Programs for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges
As the incidence and severity of student mental health challenges rise to an epidemic level, schools across the nation are struggling to respond. The demand for specialized clinical services in the least restrictive environment for the most “at-risk” students continues to grow, with out-of-district placements, educational accommodations, and safety concerns becoming severe burdens on school professionals and district budgets everywhere.
For over a decade, Effective School Solutions (ESS) has partnered with public school districts to successfully meet this challenge. ESS has reinvented K-12 mental health care by providing comprehensive and cost-effective in-school clinical programs for students with emotional and behavioral challenges so that these students can be educated in the least restrictive environment and benefit from all that their home district has to offer.
The 10 Elements of ESS- Tier 3 Approach
- Comprehensive Program Protocols
- School Avoidance Interventions
- Behavioral Student Programming
- Family Services
- Multiple Layers of Supervision
- Clinical Documentation
- Quality and Risk Management
- Professional Development and Psychoeducation for Teachers
- Objective Measurement of Performance
- Highly Experienced, Highly Qualified, Licensed Clinicians
Behavioral Student Programming
Students with significant behavioral challenges can create major obstacles for school districts. ESS has developed specialized programming that allows students who consistently “act out” to be safely and successfully educated within the school district in a wide range of environments, including self-contained classrooms and mainstream settings. ESS utilizes its proprietary Trauma-Attuned Model™, which includes daily group training in emotional regulation for students, family therapy, and ongoing professional development with teachers to ensure classrooms remain non-reactive.
School Avoidance Interventions
School avoidance has a significant adverse impact on a student’s education, depletes district resources, and frequently leads to conflict with parents and out-of-district placements. ESS has developed unique protocols for successful intervention with school avoidant students, including: specialized assessments, home visits, school avoidance treatments using a number of different therapies, extra support during the school day, frequent family therapy and parent phone coaching. On-going professional development and consultation for teachers is also a critical part of the ESS approach. Taken as a whole, ESS school avoidance protocols support an overall school culture that allows students to feel safe and succeed in the public-school setting.
Adaptation for Elementary Age Students
The ESS Tier 3 model was originally developed for middle school and high school settings, but specific customizations now allow ESS to work with districts in supporting the mental health needs of elementary age students as well, even as early as kindergarten. In addition to the core ESS model, this customization adds additional clinical services such as play therapy, children’s yoga, mindfulness exercises, specialized grade-level protocols for behavioral students and a multi-tiered behavioral modification reward system.
Professional Development and Psychoeducation for Teachers
Key to the success of ESS is cutting-edge professional development for district staff in support of their work in the classroom with at-risk students. ESS regularly provides professional development, both in-district and off-site (intensive, day-long workshops). In addition, ESS publishes and distributes Insights, a monthly newsletter for ESS district staff that highlights important research relevant to educating students with emotional and behavioral challenges, with practical tips for educators, as well as MindBeat, the definitive source for K-12 mental health news
Laurel Life Transition Classrooms
An Effective way to deal with problem behaviors
- A model therapeutic classroom focused on prevention and early intervention to help children succeed in school and at home.
- Stop inappropriate behavior
- Learn different coping strategies and new positive behaviors
- Overcome trauma
- Return to the larger classroom setting
- Trauma-informed care and resiliency-based classroom structure
- Students have their own schedules Individualized programming to meet student needs
- Students can spend one or all periods in classroom
- Teacher provides direct instruction at all levels
- Some courses taught through online program
- Staff conduct home visits and consult with parents
COMPREHENSIVE, INTEGRATE SERVICES
Available for all students at all academic levels, Laurel Life's transition classrooms use district curriculums to keep students on track academically so they can return to their regular classrooms without additional frustration. Every intervention includes support for families as well as classroom teachers, helping to increase the percentage of students that transition back to their regular classroom.
For all grades, the majority of discipline issues are handled in the classroom setting. While elementary students do not receive out-of-school suspension and are not sent home early, disciplinary decisions for middle and high school students are made at the discretion of classroom staff
- Chapter 15 504 Service Agreement
- Protected Handicapped Students Procedural Safeguards
- Homebound Instruction
- Local Right to Education
A protected handicapped student, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC Sec. 794, is school aged with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to any aspect of the school program. A "handicapped person" is any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment. Learning is considered a major life activity, as are functions such as caring for oneself, performing menial tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, and working. In compliance with state and federal law, the school district provides services to each protected handicapped student without discrimination or cost to the student or family. These related services or accommodations are intended to provide equal opportunity to participate in and obtain benefit from school programs and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student's abilities. These services and protections are distinct from those applicable to special education programs. For further information on the provisions of services to protected handicapped students, contact the building counselor.
As part of the protections available to you if we cannot agree as to what related aids, services or accommodations should or should no longer be provided to your child, the procedural safeguard system may be used to resolve the dispute. Following are some details of the avenues available to use.
Parental Request for Assistance
Parents may file a written request for assistance with the Department of Education if the school district is not providing the related aids, services and accommodations specified in the service agreement and/or the school district has failed to comply with the regulations in Chapter 15 of the State Board.
The Department of Education will investigate and respond to requests for assistance and, unless exceptional circumstances exist, will, within 60 calendar days of receipt of the request, send to the parents and school district written response to the request.
Written requests should be addressed to:
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of Special Education
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17126
Parents may file a written request with the school district for an informal conference with respect to the identification or evaluation of a student, or the student’s need for related aid, service or accommodation. Within 10 school days of receipt of the request the school district shall convene an informal conference. At the conference, every effort shall be made to reach an amicable agreement.
Formal Due Process Hearing
Parents may file a written request with the school district for an impartial due process hearing. The hearing shall be held before an impartial hearing officer.
Following are some details about the due process hearing:
- The hearing shall be held in the local school district at a place reasonably convenient to the parents. At the request of the parents, the hearing may be held in the evening.
- The hearing shall be an oral, personal hearing and shall be open to the public unless the parents request a closed hearing.
- If the hearing is open, the decision issued in the case, and only the decision, shall be available to the public.
- If the hearing is closed, the decision shall be treated as a record of the student and may not be available to the public.
- The decision of the hearing officer shall include findings of fact, a discussion and conclusions of law. The decision shall be based solely upon the substantial evidence presented at the hearing. The hearing officer shall have the authority to order that additional evidence be presented.
- A written transcript of the hearing shall, upon request, be made and provided to parents at no cost.
- Parents may be represented by any person, including legal counsel.
- A parent or a parent’s representative shall be given reasonable access to all educational records, including any tests or reports upon which the proposed action is based.
- Any party may prohibit the introduction of any evidence at the hearing that has not been disclosed to that party at least 5 days before the hearing.
- A parent or a parent’s representative has the right to compel the attendance of and question witnesses of the school entity or agency who may have evidence upon which the proposed action might be based.
- Any party has the right to present evidence and testimony, including expert medical, psychological or educational testimony.
- The Secretary of Education will contract with the Right to Education Office for the services of impartial hearing officers, who preside over initial hearings on behalf of local districts on behalf of the PA Department of Education and may compensate hearing officers for their services. The compensation shall not cause hearing officers to become employees of the Department. The hearing officer may not be an employee or agent of a school entity in which the parents or student resides, or of any agency which is responsible for the education or care of the student.
The following timeline applies to due process hearings:
- A hearing shall be held within 30 calendar days after a parent’s initial request for a hearing.
- The hearing officer’s decision shall be issued within 45 calendar days after the parent’s request for a hearing.
If the hearing pertains to Chapter 14 and 15 rights, the decision of the impartial hearing officer may be appealed to a panel of three appellate hearing officers. The panel’s decision may be appealed further to a court of competent jurisdiction. If the hearing pertains to Chapter 15 rights, the decision of the impartial hearing officer may be appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction. Under some circumstances, you may raise these claims directly under section 504 without going through the due process hearing.
If, within 60 calendar days of the completion of the administrative due process proceedings under this chapter, an appeal or original jurisdiction action is filed in State or Federal Court, the administrative order shall be stayed pending the completion of the judicial proceedings, unless the parents and school district agree otherwise.