What’s New In Schools
Special Education in a Pandemic
As we think about education, it is important to remember that special education is designed to meet the unique needs of the individual student. Schools still need to be flexible and sensitive to family circumstances. Being creative and continuing to work collaboratively with families will help to ensure student success.
When is Nevada’s Statewide Testing Window?
Accountability Assessments are important because they provide necessary information for educators, families, the public, and students themselves to measure progress and improve outcomes for all learners. A high quality assessment system can provide information and tools for teachers and schools to improve instruction and help students succeed—regardless of disability, language, or subgroup. February through May is the testing window for Nevada public schools. The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) develops and approves state assessments. Smarter Balanced Assessments for Grades 3 – 8 is the selected test that is aligned with Common Core Standards to determine students’ progress in Reading, Language Arts and Math. Practice Tests help parents check out the types of questions in the assessment. Ask your child’s school for more details regarding their testing dates. When meeting with your child’s IEP team, discuss the accommodations that your child may need to participate in the assessments.
Nevada Private Schools
Private schooling is also an option Nevada families have to educate their children. For more information on these options, please visit the links below:
U.S. Dept. of Education Guidance on Serving Children with Disabilities
U.S. Department of Education has released new information that urges states to continue to educate students with disabilities during the COVID-19 national emergency and school closures. This supplemental fact sheet stated that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. As schools reopen, families will want to be aware of this guidance and work with the school to ensure that their child receives the services necessary to participate in the general education curriculum and make progress on their IEP goals.
Creating a Plan to Go Back in the Classroom
Families and communities need schools to be ready to reopen as soon as public health officials signal that it is safe. American Enterprise Institute has developed A Blueprint for Back to School to help parents, school officials and the community understand what work must be done prior to going back into the building. This information may ease the concerns and fears that families could experience during their children’s transition back into the classroom.
Special Education – What You Need To Know Webinar
Learn how parents can work with schools during COVID-19 to determine special education, supports and services that will be provided to ensure students with disabilities continue to progress during this pandemic.
Find this webinar and many others on our On-Demand Training page!
Parents have different options if they disagree with their child’s special education program, the Nevada Department of Education has a link on their home page titled IDEA Dispute Resolution that has options for resolving differences. Parents can request an IEP Facilitation which is a process where a non-bias facilitator helps with communication at the IEP meeting to develop a meaningful IEP. Another option is Mediation this is a meeting between parents and the school district. A person who does not work for the school district helps both sides to find agreement. Parents also have the option to file a State Complaint which is an option provided by IDEA used when parents believe the school has violated special education law or regulation(s). Another option is a Due Process hearing, this is a formal hearing, each side presents its position and a hearing officer makes the final decision. In addition to IDEA related resolution options, the Nevada Department of Education offers a Constituent Concern Inspection process that can be initiated by a person, including an organization, or governmental agency when there is a belief that there is noncompliance with the laws and regulations governing the education of pupils with disabilities by providers of special education. PEP staff is available to provide families with more information about any of the above options.
Attendance Information for Parents
The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) created this Guidance Document for all school districts. Parents, if your student is incorrectly being marked absent or if you attendance concerns, you can reference page 1 and 2 of this guidance and talk to your child’s school principal. Please also refer to this NDE Guidance Memo for additional details on the minimum requirements for student contact and attendance.
Connecting Kids Nevada
Most of Nevada’s students have started the school year learning online, but not all Nevada students have access to the equipment they need to participate and succeed in a virtual classroom.
1) Need a device for your student? Call your school.
2) Need internet connectivity? Call the Family Support Center at 888-616-2476
Understanding Diploma Options and Graduation Rates
Nevada has variety of diploma options that students with disabilities can earn in order to graduate from high school. The types of diplomas are Standard, Adult Diploma, Advanced Diploma, College and Career Ready, Alternative and Adjusted. Click here to review the Nevada Alternative Diploma Implementation Guide. The graduation rates in Nevada have continued to increase each year. Recently, Nevada Department of Education published information about the improving graduation rates for all of the diplomas. Click here to check out the graduation increase in your school district.
Nevada Law (NRS 392.070) provides for a waiver of compulsory attendance laws. For more information about this option Nevada families have, please visit the links below:
How Can Parents Join a School Organizational Team (SOT)?
Each school in the Clark County School District has created a School Organizational Team which assists the principal in making important decisions that affect the school. This team meets monthly and is made up of elected licensed staff, education support professionals, parents/guardians, and students (at the secondary level), as well as one or more optional, non‐elected community members. Being part of a School Organizational Team allows parents to partner with school staff and provides a voice to address the School Plan of Operation. To learn more about how to join a School Organizational Team, click here.
IEP Meetings Go Virtual!
Schools in Nevada are closed for the remainder of the year and parents may have questions about their child’s special education services and upcoming IEP meetings. Requirements for IEP development, review, evaluations and eligibility are still in place. The methods to meet these requirements may look different as IEP meetings will not be held at the school, but may be held online or by phone only. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) already had provisions in place to use alternative means of meeting participation, such as video conferences and conference calls. Talk with your school team to decide the best way to hold your meeting – by phone or online with platforms such as Skype, Zoom, etc. Find out when and how you will receive the meeting notice documents that list required members and have an access code or meeting ID necessary to join a virtual meeting. Prior to providing agreement, parents may want to review the IEP documents to confirm that all their concerns were addressed in the meeting. Nevada PEP has an IEP Checklist, that parents can use as they work with the team to develop an IEP that meets their child’s individualized needs and provides access to the curriculum.
Getting Back to School after Disruptions
Life during the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for parents and children. Schools re-opening in the fall is important and could be a welcoming step. Schools need to be safe for all children. If schools open in the fall these Six Strategies can help students be successful, and ensure a safe, predictable and positive school year. These helpful strategies are beneficial for all students.
Summer Family Survey Report 2020
Over the Summer, Nevada PEP surveyed families to learn about the impact of COVID-19. Youth MOVE Nevada also surveyed their participants to uplift the voices of youth during the pandemic. Of the nearly 400 participants, 62% of families were concerned about finances and 62% of youth missed going to school in-person. You can view the full results of both surveys here.
SNHD Outbreak Response Plan
The Southern Nevada Health District has designed a Preparedness and Response Plan for Schools to assist for the reopening of schools in Clark County for the 2020-2021 school year. This document is intended to apply to all K-12 schools and community-based educational organizations, which may include public, charter, private, or homeschool co-ops throughout Clark County. The Washoe County School District and the Washoe County Health District has collaborated on a Response Plan for Washoe Schools.
GoGuardian Beacon 24/7 Chrome Book Monitoring
GoGuardian Beacon is a monitoring program that some schools in the Clark County School District are using on school issued chrome books. The program can identify students who have searched or written text that may mean that they are feeling extreme stressors or experiencing a mental health issue. If the software detects self-harm warning signs, a school administrator is alerted and the student’s parents are notified. Parents can ask if their school is part of this pilot program. To learn more about GoGuardian Beacon, check out their information page and video.