KLAY Community Conversation
March 28, 2018
Topic: Special Education in Clover Park School District
Guest: Michaela Clancy, director of special education.
Michaela Clancy came to Clover Park School District (CPSD) in July 2017. Prior to joining Clover Park School District, she was the director of special education in Seattle Public Schools. Michaela started her career as a special education para professional in 1994, as an undergraduate at the University of Washington. She has extensive administrative experience and her education includes a doctorate in educational leadership from Seattle University. She will complete her superintendent’s credentials in June.
- Welcome! We’re excited to hear about Clover Park School District’s special education program. What can you tell us about it?
CPSD provides a full spectrum of services for eligible special education students. We currently serve more than 2,000 students with disabilities from ages birth to 3 using contracted services and serve students age 3 to 21 in preschool and K-12 classrooms across the district. Our services range from highly intensive for students with significant needs to resource services for students with mild learning disabilities or communication disorders.
Our programs are located throughout the district. Some of which, are grouped geographically for the convenience of families and student transportation efficiencies.
- How are students identified/qualified for special education services?
In Clover Park, Child Find is the process for locating, evaluating and identifying any children from birth to 21 years of age residing in the district (or non-resident children attending private school located within the district) who are in need of special education and related services.
Most the time, we receive referrals from family members, medical professionals and our teachers. Once we received a referral, family members and a team that includes the principal, teachers, school psychologists and specialists, meet to determine what services the student may need. Following all state and federal regulations, the team reviews a lot of data and may conduct additional screenings. If the student needs special education services, an individual education plan or IEP is developed specifically for that student.
Individual Education Plans are reviewed at least every year, and progress reports on IEP goals are provided along with each general education report card.
- Does CPSD have any special, special education services it provides for students.
Yes, we have several specialty programs. For example, we have a program for students with vision impairments. Students work with a teacher who is certified to work with visually impaired students. We also have interpreters and a Braillist.
- Are there any new trends in special education?
We are seeing more intensity of need from our students. By that I mean higher numbers of students with disabilities as a district AND they have more intense needs.
We work very closely with Madigan Army Medical Center and Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Exceptional Family Program. Because JBLM is considered a compassionate assignment, many of our students are connected to the military and come from different regions.
Our fastest growing special education population is students needing life skills programs.
- Any common misunderstandings about special education programs?
Sometimes families coming from other states don’t understand that each state has different eligibility standards for special education services. An example might be a family with a student who has an IEP for service moving from Kentucky to Washington. Our state may have more specific eligibility requirements and different services available. The move and transition can sometimes be tough and confusing.
Before we can provide services, our staff needs to review each new student’s evaluation and IEP. Sometimes there are updates needed or additional assessments needed to meet our state’s standards. We provide services as close to the services that were being provided as we can determine from the plan from the other state, but sometimes there are limits to the services we can provide during the process.
- Any helpful hints for families?
I encourage families to work with teachers and principals early and work as a team to support the student. The sooner school staff know about a student’s needs… the sooner we can start working together.
I have been extremely impressed by the compassion and understanding of our principals and staff for all of our students.
This area has a lot of employment opportunities. We are already starting to get notifications from families moving here in the coming months.
- What makes you proud of CPSD’s special education program?
I’d say the collaboration with school staff both internally and externally with other school districts…. The way we create partnerships to benefit students.
Our professional development for teachers is some of the best I’ve seen. There is a lot of mentoring for teachers.
Our student outcomes are improving… our graduation rates have increased; we have fewer absences; and students are performing better. Staff continues to review data for ways to improve.
We have very skilled, talented, committed educators. It is an incredible honor to work with such an amazing special education team. There is a sense of teamwork, collaboration and “whatever it takes” is inspiring every day, and makes the difference for our students. You can see that in our many success stories. Our students are inspiring.
- Where can people get more information about CPSD’s special education program?
Families should start at their child’s school. If they are new to the area, our district website has some important resources on it as well. The special education department website has contact information for our special education supervisors too. These are all good starting points for information. Families can start at www.cloverpark.k12.wa.us.
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