Pre-K special education enrollment drops, students with disabilities increase

Although preschool special education enrollment and Planning, Placement Team (PPT) numbers have declined since last school year, the numbers of students with disabilities and 504 plans have increased, according to a year-end summary of the Wilton Public School District’s special services department.

Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Ann Paul shared the year-end report with the Board of Education during its June 9 meeting, which outlined services provided by the district, as well as some statistics on students serviced by the department.

Wilton’s public schools provide services to students eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) “through a continuum of district supports and services,” according to the report — the goal of which is to “ensure the provision of all mandated services in a manner that is compliant with state and federal regulations, best practices and current research.”

“Students are educated with their non-disabled peers in the general education classroom to the maximum extent as considered appropriate for each individual student, often referred to in the IDEIA as the Least Restrictive Environment,” according to the report.

As of May 24, 587 Wilton public school students were classified as having some sort of disability. According to the report, the following number of students had the following disabilities this school year:

  • Learning disability: 218.

  • OHI-ADD/ADHD: 104.

  • Autism: 83.

  • Speech/language: 61.

  • Other health impairment: 33.

  • Emotional disturbance: 29.

  • Multiple disabilities: 20.

  • Dyslexia: 16.

  • Developmental delay: 10.

  • Hearing impairment: 6.

  • Intellectual disability: 5.

  • Traumatic brain injury: 2.

The number of students with disabilities this year was 33 fewer than the number reported last June.

Environments and services

According to the report, in preschool through 12th grade — and sometimes until age 21 — students’ instructional environments can range from general education with or without paraprofessional support to day programs in specialized out-of-district schools.

Paul told the education board most of those around age 21 are in outplacement programs.

The rate of district outplacements hasn’t changed much since last school year, according to the report. During the 2015-16 school year, the district outplaced 34 students between September and June, compared to 32 last year.

Both years, high school students accounted for the majority of outplacements — 23 in 2015-16 and 21 in 2014-15.

According to the report, the school district provides “additional services” to students with disabilities, designed to maximize their access to the curriculum and participation in school activities; as well as “related services” that range from speech/language, occupational and physical therapies to special transportation and specialized equipment.

Preschool enrollment

According to the report, the district’s monthly preschool special education enrollment in 2015-16 was:

  • September: 31.

  • October: 32.

  • November: 34.

  • December: 33.

  • January: 34.

  • February: 32.

  • March: 34.

  • April: 38.

  • May: 41.

In the 2014-15 school year, it was:

  • September: 46.

  • October: 48.

  • November: 48.

  • December: 51.

  • January: 54.

  • February: 54.

  • March: 55.

  • April: 58.

  • May: 58.

At the preschool level, children are served in integrated classrooms and through “‘itinerant’ support services,” which means they receive therapies instead of full programs, according to the report.

New initiatives

In response to recommendations the District Management Council (DMC) made in its Special Education & Struggling Students Opportunities Review of the Wilton school district, released in June 2015, special services administrators, staff, and paraprofessionals designed and implemented initiatives that cover a number of areas this year.

They include:

  • Monthly training for district administrators on issues related to special education and 504 regulations.

  • Training of staff responding to requests for records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The law protects the privacy of student education records and gives parents “certain rights with respect to their children's education records,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. The district has responded to 55 requests this school year, compared to 50 last year.

  • PPT days or blocks at each of the schools that offer parents “a sense of predictability about when they will be noticed for a meeting,” according to Paul. PPTs declined from 1,902 last year to 1,749 this year.

Click here to view the full year-end special services report.