Princeton Charter School
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Student Support Services

Dear Parents,

Princeton Charter School was chartered by the State to provide a challenging academic environment for our students.  PCS is committed to supporting every enrolled student to meet the challenges of the PCS curriculum, and proud to support its students in a variety of ways.  At PCS there is no stigma attached to seeking or receiving support services, and the support services we offer for academic learning often take place quietly in the background of our daily routines.  As the Director of Special Education, I’d like to take a moment to inform you of our various student support services.

          Initial support.  The first level of support for learners who are having difficulty starts with the teacher.  Subject teachers will employ different or additional teaching strategies during class.  If deemed necessary, they will meet with their students during study hall, reading period, or, in some cases, before school to provide additional instruction.  There are times when another teacher may deliver this extra instruction.

          Intervention and Referral Service (I&RS).  If the student continues to experience difficulty or has difficulty in a number of academic areas due to problems with learning, behavior, or health issues, we assemble an I&RS team to develop more targeted interventions to facilitate positive student progress.  The team can include any of the following professionals:  special education teacher, LDTC (Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant), general education teacher(s), nurse, guidance counselor, principal, and Director of Special Education, as well as the student’s parents.

          Child Study Team.  Should a student continue to struggle with academic progress and be at risk of repeatedly failing in one or more subject areas, the I&RS team may make the decision to refer the student to the Child Study Team for evaluation to determine if they qualify for special education services.  The Child Study Team consists of a special education teacher, general education teacher(s), building principal, school social worker, school psychologist, LDTC, and the parent(s).  The Director of Special Education may also be involved.  Should the student qualify, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) will be written for them.

          504 Plan.  Sometimes a child may have a physical or mental impairment that interferes with his/her ability to access instruction as traditionally presented in the classroom, but may not qualify for special education services.  In this case a 504 plan can be written to list accommodations that will be made to the regular instructional process such as the provision of teacher notes or seating closer to the front of the room.  In order to qualify for a 504 plan, there needs to be evidence of an impairment from a qualified individual.  This may include a physician, psychological, or psychiatric analysis.  Our LDTC is the 504 Plan Coordinator and can provide more information about what is necessary to qualify.

          Social-Emotional Support.  Students may experience difficulties in school or home relationships.  Our school guidance counselor can help them examine their feelings on these matters and provide the student with coping skills.  At times, the guidance counselor may recommend a student meet with our school social worker for more in-depth counseling for a limited period of time.  If the problems are of long duration or are not improving, she may suggest the student see a private counselor outside of school hours, not furnished by the school.  

          Dyslexia.  Princeton Charter School is proud to have a strong program of identification and remediation of markers of Dyslexia.  All students in grades K-3 have formal and informal reading assessments throughout the school year.  Students who are suspected of having reading difficulties are referred to our certified Literacy Specialist, Amy Vallone, or our LDTC.  A decision will be made if more targeted assessments are warranted to determine the issues affecting the reading ability.  Students who exhibit markers or difficulties associated with dyslexia may receive additional instruction from one of our teachers who have had training in specialized methods if deemed necessary and appropriate.  We use Orton Gillingham phonetic based methods for younger students or the Wilson program for older students.

          English Language Learners.  Princeton Charter School has a specific program of identification and instruction as per state mandates for students who need to acquire a strong understanding of English as a language.  Karen Leahy handles the majority of instruction and completion of state requirements.  Should we feel your child would benefit from participation in this program, you will be contacted, or you may contact the school yourself if you think your child might qualify.

Who are the professionals who support students at Princeton Charter School?  Currently we are proud to have a team of professional and caring service providers. 

  • Director of Special Education.  I am the supervisor of our various student services and responsible for seeing that the various formal support processes are being executed properly, services are provided as designated, necessary training is implemented to support faculty understanding, and that we are in compliance with all state regulations.   
  • Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant (LDTC).  Rachaele Cianci assesses students during the qualification for classification process to identify their current level of academic performance and ability.  She is the “case-manager” and is responsible for the initial eligibility process, the annual reviews of the plan, and the periodic re-evaluation of students to ensure that they still require special services to support their academic growth.  She is also a resource to parents and faculty.  Additionally she is the I&RS and 504 Plan coordinator.  She may be reached at rcianci@princetoncharter.org 
  • School Psychologist.  Yvette Muniz conducts assessment to determine a  student's potential for learning as part of the evaluation process for an IEP.  Additionally she can function in an advisory capacity for us when needed.
  • Social Worker.  Christa Wolski meets with designated students supporting them in developing management processes for social and/or emotional challenges that may distract from learning.  She is also part of the evaluation process for special education services classification.
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)/Physical Therapy (PT).  Michelle Davis-Korngut  addresses development of fine motor skills and organizational processes (OT) and Clare Fannon works on gross motor skills (PT) when specified as necessary special education services in an IEP.
  • Speech and Language.  Our speech and language specialist, Suzy DiIlorio, helps children with enunciation and aspects of speech usage.  An evaluation and IEP are required for these services.
  • Special Education Teachers.  These are teachers with certification in special education, which includes teaching approaches, understanding of learning differences and other factors that affect learning.  Our certified special education instructors include Margaux Wisniewski and Cheryl Horan. These teachers may meet with students in a smaller learning environment or help support all students in the larger classroom as necessary. 
  • Literacy Specialist.  We have 2 certified literacy specialists, Amy Vallone and Sandy Noyelle.  They may advise teachers on instructional practice, work with students identified with reading difficulties for a variety of reasons, not just dyslexia, and provide in-class support.

If you are concerned about your child’s ability to learn, please voice those to the classroom teachers first.  If you continue to be concerned, please contact your child’s division head.  Together, you can make a decision on how to move forward in supporting your child.  Generally this will begin with an I&RS meeting.  Should you have more in-depth questions about specific programs, please feel free to contact me at gwilbur@princetoncharter.org to arrange a phone call.

Yours truly,

Gail Wilbur

Assistant Head K-4/Director of Special Education

 




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