An in-depth update on the Massapequa School District’s Special Education program was the focal point of Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Lucille Iconis led a presentation for the Board on what she deemed to be five major, successful initiatives that were introduced during the current school year.
The first initiative Iconis discussed was the re-distribution of the District’s 12:1:1 classes, also known as the “Self-Contained” classes. The classes were moved from their home of over 20 years, and equally distributed throughout Massapequa’s six elementary schools.
“This was a huge endeavor, and it’s one that I’d like to report that has been an overwhelming success,” she said. “Why did we do this? There are several reasons...one was the changes to New York State’s Accountability System; having all of out Self-Contained in one school put us at great risk. And, the most important reason in my view, is that by moving out children into all of our elementary schools, we had the opportunity to increase their inclusionary opportunities.”
Iconis said that the transition went smoothly over the course of the past year; the process being greatly helped by regular meetings with parents, teachers, and support staff.
“From all reports, the children have assimilated well into their new homes,” she said. “And they have been integrated appropriately into the mainstream.”
In addition, the presentation covered other initiatives such as Elementary Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classes, which consist of a full-time general teacher, an assistant, and support from a Special Education teacher; the Career and Community Connections (CCC) program, which teaches independent functioning, adaptive life skills, and job coaching; Section 504, a Civil Rights statute coordinated through the Department of Student Services that assists students with disabilities that limits any major life function, such as breathing or walking; and monthly parent training sessions, where issues such as dealing with problem behavior and crisis management are handled.
A presentation was also conducted on the District’s Response to Intervention (RTI) program, which is a multi-tiered, general education initiative for children at the elementary level that is designed to address the needs of struggling learners, according to Iconis.
“Due to the intensive education needs of these students, we shift them to an extended-day model,” she said. “That means, after they’re done in their building, they stay for an additional hour and 15 minutes, so make sure we can cover all of their goals and educate them appropriately.”
Iconis said that the key to success with the RTI program is parental involvement.
“We have also created a monthly parent training program,” she said. “Once a month, the parents come in, and we address the kinds of issues that parents of children with these intensive needs face on a daily basis.”
“It’s because of successful programs like these that people say Massapequa has the best Special Education program around,” Iconis said at the end of her presentation.