What is the CSE (Committee on Special Education)?
As a parent, if you believe your child is having difficulties in the school setting, the first step is to speak with your child's classroom teacher. It may be necessary to arrange a conference with your child's classroom teacher, the school psychologist or counselor and your child's school principal to discuss the difficulties your child is experiencing. Together, parents and building educators and specialists may develop a plan of action that will provide additional building level support services. These may include, but are not limited to, support by the reading or learning specialist teacher, speech and language services, program modifications, among others. Response to Intervention (RTI) is also a key component of supporting a student who's experiencing educational challenges.
You or the RTI team may feel a referral to the CSE is warranted. The CSE is a multidisciplinary team established by law and regulations for students ages 5 to 21. The CSE is responsible for conducting evaluations to assess your child and to determine if your child is eligible for special education services or support. The CSE will meet formally with you to discuss the referral and evaluation of your child. Based on the evaluations, the CSE may recommend specific services and programs appropriate for your child. If your child is indeed eligible for special education services, an IEP (Individualized Education Program) would be developed at the initial CSE meeting. Thereafter, the CSE would convene annually to review your child's IEP.
Requests to the CSE would need to be in writing and delivered to the Director of Special Education, Dr. Toni Ann Carey.
Role of the CSE
The Committee on Special Education (CSE) is an interdisciplinary team which is authorized to do the following: evaluates the data presented about students with respect to eligibility for special education services; designs and recommends an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) for each student determined to have a disability and reviews annually the placement of all students with disabilities in the Bedford Central School District.
The Special Education Process involves six steps:
- Response to Intervention
- Initial Referral for Special Education Services
- Individualize Evaluation Process
- Determining Eligibility
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
- Annual Review / Reevaluation Process
Response to Intervention: Prior to a referral to the CSE, each building will implement response to intervention plans for individual students who demonstrate the need for more intensive and/or alternative instruction. Each building has a Response to Intervention Team consisting of a group of inter-disciplinary educators. This team follows an eight-step review process for students demonstrating the need for more intensive interventions to address behavioral, social and/or academic weaknesses. Classroom teachers and parents are an integral member of this team. As a part of the referral process, the RTI team creates an individual plan for each student. This plan identifies priority intervention goals, provides scientifically based intervention strategies and priorities and develops a program monitoring system and timeline for review. This is referred to as a Level II tier response plan. The expectation is that these interventions will provide the student the additional and/or alternative instructional strategies to progress in his/her current program. In the event, there is little progression, alternative interventions are recommended, monitored and assessed. If a student continues to demonstrate a lack of progress even with this level of intervention, a more intensive Level III tier intervention plan may be considered or the RTI team may make a recommendation to the principal that a referral to the CSE be generated. The data from interventions provided to the student will be a consideration of the CSE, along with additional testing and daily performance of the student.
Initial Referral for Special Education Services: A referral is a process for starting the special education procedure in a formal manner. Persistent learning and/or behavioral difficulties may be an indication that a student needs special education and/or related services. A referral can be submitted by any number of sources, but usually the building principal or the parent/guardian is the referral source. A referral is made in written form and must be dated. Once the CSE receives the required parent's signed consent, the evaluation process can begin.
Individualized Evaluation Process: During the referral process to the CSE, an individual comprehensive evaluation of the student will take place. The comprehensive diagnostic evaluations are provided at no cost to the parent/guardian and completed in the student’s native language. At minimum, a newly referred student must be evaluated in the following areas: psychological, educational, medical, social history, and classroom observation. Other areas may include speech/language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and visually impaired services. The evaluations will be conducted by the members of the Bedford Central School District or by practitioners contracted by the school district. The evaluations recommended by the school district are deemed to be in the student’s best interest; however, the parent/guardian has the right to refuse consent or withdraw consent at any time. Upon completion of the evaluations, the professional staff will provide the parent/guardian with the results of the testing, as well as a copy of the written evaluation. The evaluations, coupled with RTI data and additional formative and summative assessments, will help the CSE determine if a student possesses an educational disability and whether special education services are required. The evaluations should be multidisciplinary and should not interfere with a student’s ability to demonstrate skills or knowledge. The parent/guardian has the right to private evaluations at his/her own expense. If desired, this information can be shared with school personnel and the CSE and will be taken into consideration in identifying whether the student is eligible for special education and, if appropriate, planning the program. Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE) may be requested if the parent/guardian is in disagreement with the district’s evaluations. Upon completion of the evaluation conducted by the school district, the parent/guardian will have 45 calendar days from the date of receipt of the school district’s evaluation within which to request an IEE.
Determining Eligibility: Upon completion of the evaluations, a CSE meeting will be scheduled. The parent/guardian will be notified of the meeting in writing, with a list of anticipated attendees. All initial CSE meetings are held in the Administration Building on the Fox Lane Campus. The meeting must include the CSE chairperson, a school psychologist, a special education teacher, a regular education teacher, a parent member, and the parent/guardian. The parent/guardian may bring any individual(s) to the meeting having knowledge or special expertise regarding the student. The general outline of a meeting is as follows: introductions, an overview, a summary of the evaluations, a description of the student’s classroom performance, parent/guardian feedback, other relevant comments, CSE recommendations, and further processes. In developing recommendations, the CSE, the parent/guardian, and any others present, will discuss the evaluations presented and any other pertinent information on the student. The first decision is whether the student possesses an educational disability that adversely affects his/her educational performance. There are 13 classifications from which the committee draws.
They include the following:
- Autism-a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a student’s education performance is adversely affected primarily because the student has an emotional disturbance. A student who manifests the characteristics of autism after age 3 could be diagnosed as having autism if the criteria in this paragraph is otherwise satisfied.
- Deafness-a hearing impairment that is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
- Deaf-Blindness-concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other development and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with deafness or students with blindness.
- Emotional Disturbance-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 student’s educational performance:
- An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
- An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
- Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
- A generally pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
- A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
- The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to students who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.
- Hearing Impairment-an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects the student’s education performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness above.
- Learning Disability-a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which manifests itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage. A student who exhibits a discrepancy of 50 percent or more between expected achievement and actual achievement determined on an individual basis shall be deemed to have a learning disability.
- Intellectual Disability-significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
- Multiple Disabilities-concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc), the combination of which cause such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.
- Orthopedic Impairment-a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g., clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairment from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputation, and fractures or burns which cause contractures).
- Other Health Impairment-having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems, including but not limited to a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, diabetes, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or tourette syndrome, which adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
- Speech or Language Impairment-a communicative disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
- Traumatic Brain Injury- an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or by certain medical conditions such as stroke, encephalitis, aneurysm, anoxia or brain tumors with resulting impairments that adversely affect educational performance. The term includes open or closed head injuries or brain injuries from certain medical conditions resulting in mild, moderate or severe impairments in one or more areas, including cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem solving, sensory, perceptual and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing, and speech. The term does not include injuries that are congenital or caused by birth trauma.
- Visual Impairment including Blindness-an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
If a student meets the criteria for an educational disability, a determination must be made as to the least restrictive educational setting in which a student can receive educational benefit from special education services. In order to accomplish this task, the CSE has a variety of placements from which to choose. These placements range in levels of restriction, including class size, student-teacher ratio, and degree of mainstreaming.
In addition to recommending placement, the CSE will review related services, goals/objectives, testing access, alternative testing techniques, second language instruction, transportation, high school credentials, and transition planning, as appropriate.
Individualized Education Plan: Once recommendations are made, the district must implement the program and services. It is the responsibility of the CSE and the school district to ensure that these arrangements are in place. If this is a student’s first placement in special education in the Bedford school district, written consent must be given in order to implement the CSE recommendations.
The student will be issued an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The recommended program will be implemented by the appropriate staff. Should any concerns arise, the parent/guardian should contact the special education teacher first. If the concerns persist, the building principal should be notified; a return to the CSE is always an option.
A student with a disability will be subject to the same disciplinary and attendance standards and procedures as those students not identified as having special needs. Please refer to the school’s handbook and/or district policy for specific information. A Manifestation Hearing will be initiated if the student accumulates 10 days of suspensions.
While most students requiring special education receive regular grades in their classes, a system of modifying grades may be provided. The parent/guardian has the right to review his/her child’s records and to request corrections. The parent/guardian is also entitled to obtain one free copy of his/her child’s evaluations. Additional copies may be requested at a nominal fee.
At age 14 and older, the CSE must, as part of the IEP process, begin transition planning. This process should include but is not limited to diploma options and their respective requirements (e.g., Diploma, IEP Diploma, Vocational Program). A student’s guidance counselor and/or social worker will be an integral part of this planning. For further information the student’s guidance counselor should be contacted.
Annual Review/Reevaluation Process: Each year the CSE is required to review a student’s existing program. During this process, the CSE will make recommendations, based upon a review of the records, that either continue, change, revise, or end the student’s special education program. The parent/guardian will receive written notification of the Annual Review. Annual Reviews are generally held in the school the student attends, although at times it may be necessary to hold the annual review in the Administration Building. The location is always noted on the written notification letters. For Subcommittee Annual Review meetings, the CSE subcommittee members must include a chairperson, the student’s general education teacher and special education teacher, and the parent/guardian. For meetings which may recommend a more restrictive environment, a full CSE committee also includes a school psychologist and a parent member. A school psychologist is also present at Reevaluation Annual Reviews where an updated psychological evaluation is reviewed. If a parent/guardian can not attend in person, teleconferencing is an option.
The student will have a reevaluation which occurs every three years to provide assessment information to help determine continued placement in special education. The parent/guardian will be asked to sign a consent acknowledging the reevaluation. Updated information is provided through reexamining the areas of the previously diagnosed disability. The evaluations, which are conducted by the district’s personnel, are discussed at the student’s annual review. The results, as well as a copy of the updated evaluation, will be shared with the parent/guardian.
Kristina Carofano, Elementary Coordinator of Special Education
Michele Zaino, Secondary Coordinator of Special Education
Deana Longden, Special Class Coordinator K-12
Kim Oltman, Secretary to the Assistant Director, Elementary CSE
Seta Sevulyan, Senior Office Assistant Secondary