Services for Exceptional Students
Services for Disabled Preschool Age Children
Services for special needs children, below school age, who reside in suburban Allegheny County, are
provided through two different systems linked by a transition process.
Birth through age two programming is provided through the Pennsylvania
Department of Welfare funding and is coordinated by the Alliance for
Infants and Toddlers, Inc. Students who are three years old to entry age
are serviced through the Pennsylvania Department of Education funding.
This preschool program is presently coordinated by the Allegheny
Intermediate Unit’s Early Childhood and Family Support Services program,
For more information,
please contact the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers, Inc. at
412-885-6000 or the Allegheny Intermediate Unit/DART Program at (412) 394-5736.
Services for School Age Exceptional Students
The school district provides a free, appropriate public education to
exceptional students according to state and federal mandates. To be
eligible, the child must be of school-age, need specially designed
instruction, and meet eligibility criteria for mentally gifted and/or
one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities as set
forth in the Individual with Disabilities Education Act which was
re-authorized in 1997 (IDEA –97):
• Autism/Pervasive Developmental Disorder
• Blindness/Visual Impairment
• Deaf Blindness
• Deafness/Hearing Impairment
• Physical Disability
• Emotional Disturbance
• Specific Learning Disability
• Speech and Language Impairment
• Mental Retardation
• Multiple Disabilities
• Orthopedic Impairment
• Traumatic Brain Injury
• Other Health Impairment
Identified students are provided with a continuum of services designed to meet the individual
needs of eligible students. These services may include supportive
intervention in the regular class, supplemental intervention in the
regular class or in a special education resource program, placement, in a
part-time or full-time special education class in a regular school or
placement in a full-time special education class outside of the regular
school. The extent of special education services and the location for
the delivery of such services are determined by the parents and staff at
the IEP team meeting and is based on the student’s identified needs and
abilities, chronological age, and the intensity of the specified
intervention. The school district also provides related services, such
as transportation, physical therapy, and occupational therapy, that is
required to enable the student to derive educational benefits.
Parents of public school students who suspect that their child is exceptional and in need of
special education may request a multidisciplinary team evaluation of
their child through a written request to the district Director of Pupil
Screening and Evaluation
South Fayette Township School District has a three-part screening
process in place that identifies any student who may need special
Level 1: Review of group-based data
The building level guidance counselors review report cards, health
records and group-based testing such as the TerraNova Standardized
Achievement Test, TerraNova School Ability Test, and Pennsylvania State
Assessment results. For incoming kindergarten students, results from the
Early Screening Profile are examined. Data gathered through a thorough
review of these records may prompt a referral for screening a child for
Level 2: Review of hearing, vision, motor, speech and language
The District routinely conducts screenings of a child’s hearing acuity
each year in kindergarten, first, second, third, seventh, and eleventh
grade, vision acuity each year, kindergarten through Grade 12, and
speech and language mid-year in kindergarten. Gross motor and fine motor
skills are assessed by the classroom teacher on an on-going basis.
Specified needs from all of these screening sources are noted within the
child’s official file.
Level 3: Instructional Support
The Instructional Support Team (IST) is an innovative program whose
goals are to maximize individual student success in the regular
classroom, while at the same time serving as a screening process for
students who may be in need of special education services. IST is a
positive, success-oriented program which uses specific assessment and
intervention techniques to help remove educational, behavioral or
affective stumbling blocks for all students in the regular classroom. At
South Fayette, the IST program runs from kindergarten until Grade 8.
Referrals for IST intervention may be initiated by the parent or
The Instructional Support Team includes your child’s classroom teacher, the school principal, the
instructional support teacher, the guidance counselor, a Title I
teacher, a learning support teacher and a grade level teacher. Parents
are encouraged to participate as active partners in the process. The
school psychologist, speech therapist, school nurse, and representatives
from community agencies also serve on the IST, depending on the needs
of the students.
The IST process involves three steps:
(1) Identifying a student’s need for academic and behavior support
(2) Determining strategies needed for assisting the student
(3) Implementing intervention strategies through a continuum of services
After an initial assessment of the student’s academic, behavioral, and/or coping skills,
the IST recommends strategies to be implemented to help the student
achieve success in the regular classroom. The team determines what
support is needed for the student to maintain a level of success in the
classroom. These strategies are implemented, monitored and then
evaluated by the team after 30 days, based on goals set for the student.
If the student’s teachers report a positive change, the strategies are
continued. If there is not progress, the student may be referred for a
multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE).
The Multidisciplinary Evaluation (MDE)
The MDE is a process to gather information that will be used to find
out if children really do need special education and if so, the types of
Prior to an MDE, the District must obtain permission via the Permission to Evaluate form.
Before an evaluation can occur, the form must be signed by the parent or
Evaluations are conducted by a certified school psychologist. Additional information is provided
by the parents, classroom teacher, Instructional Support Teacher, and
other pertinent individuals that work with the student. All of this
information is compiled into an Evaluation Report (ER). This report will
recommend whether a child has one or more disabilities or mental
giftedness. It also recommends whether or not the child requires special
education, and the type of program and services that the child needs.
The ER may recommend that a child is not exceptional and therefore does
not need special education services. If this is recommended, the report
will list changes that may be made in the regular classroom to make the
child more successful. All members of the MDT, including the parents,
are entitled to review the ER.
Reevaluations for students who are eligible for special education services, are compiled every two
years, or when requested by one or more members of the IEP team (please
see information on Individualized Education Plan).
Individualized Education Plan
Children who are regarded to be exceptional by the MDT team are
entitled to receive special education services. The document that
specifically addresses these services is called an Individual Education
Plan (IEP). Required members of the IEP team include:
• The child’s parents
• At least one of your child’s regular education teachers
• At least one special education teacher
• A representative from the school district who:
(1) Is qualified to provide or supervise special education programs
(2) Knows about the general curriculum
(3) Knows what resources the Local Education Agency (LEA) can offer
• Someone who can interpret the evaluation results, who may already be a member of the team
• At your request or that of the school, other people who know your child well or who have worked with your child
• Your child (at age 16 when planning will be done for life after
graduation or any time before that age when you want your child to be
• A representative from a vocational-technical school if a vocational-technical school is being considered for your child
The IEP will review all of the evaluation material and will determine how your child is performing
in school now. The IEP team will write annual goals and short term
learning objectives that can be measured and which meet the needs of
IEPs for eligible students are developed on an annual basis, or sooner, if requested by one or more members of the IEP team.
Notice of Recommended Educational Placement
Once the IEP has been developed with the IEP team, you will receive a
Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP). The NOREP explains
the placement or class recommended for your child and explains your
rights. You must approve the NOREP in writing for your child’s first
special education placement if you want it to go into effect.
South Fayette Township School District offers a continuum of educational services designed to
meet the needs of eligible students including varying degrees of gifted,
learning, and speech and language support. In additional, related
services such as transportation, occupational therapy, physical therapy,
vision support, and deaf and hearing support are available to those
students that qualify.
Detailed information regarding special education procedures may be obtained by calling the
Special Education Department at South Fayette Schools, (412) 221-4542,
ext. 428, 415 or 429.
Services for Protected Handicapped Students
There are instances in which students are identified as handicapped or
disabled, but may not qualify for Special Education services. If it is
determined necessary, the school district will provide these students,
without discrimination or cost to the student or family, those related
aids, services or accommodations which are needed to ensure equal
opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school
programs and extracurricular activities. These services are outlined in a
Chapter 15 Service Agreement. Questions regarding Chapter 15 should be
directed to the Special Education Department at (412) 221-4542, ext.
428, 415 or 429.
Services for Students in Nonpublic Schools
Public special education is accessible to resident students attending
nonpublic schools by permitting the nonpublic school student to enroll
on a part-time, duel enrollment basis in a special education program
operated in a public school. Students in a non-public school that are
suspected of having a disability will need to be referred for an MDE.
Parents of nonpublic school students who suspect that their child is exceptional and in need
of special education may request a multidisciplinary team evaluation of
their child through a written request to the district Director of Pupil