Message from Chris Willis - Executive Director Student Support Services

  • March 19, 2020

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    I hope all of you are safe and healthy.  The School Principals will be reaching out to you regarding learning activities and resources.  Access to these learning activities is a challenge for many students in our system.  I am working with special education teachers, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapist, braillist, physical therapist, school psychologists, and assistants to facilitate your child’s access to the learning activities, resources, and supplemental aids.  In all cases, we will be working with you and your child on an individual basis.

    I will be your point of contact for your system-wide questions and concerns.  My phone number is (360) 893-6500 ext. 4027.  You can also contact me via e-mail at willisc@orting.wednet.edu

    Below are questions and answers related to special education:

    What can I expect from Student Support Services during this closure?
    Answer: We know that this can a difficult time for everyone including individuals with disabilities and their families.

    You can expect us to support you, provided it is safe and we are legally allowed to, as best we can within this new, rapidly changing framework by informing you of resources to support our students and families as we are made aware of them.   You can expect us to care. We would much rather be directly supporting our students during a typical school year but understand that this closure is the safest option for our students. 

    Is the district providing special education and related services to students with disabilities during the school closure? 
    }Answer: The district will be providing learning support materials and online resources should parents wish to provide enrichment learning to their children while schools are closed.  These materials are not intended to be a substitute for classroom instruction or specially designed instruction.   Any learning support materials or resources supplied to students are optional and not graded at this time. They are an opportunity to help students practice their skills. 

    How will the district address the impact of the extended school closure on each students’ educational progress?
    Answer: During this unprecedented time, unfortunately all students, including those with IEP’s will see an impact to their educational progress.  While schools are closed to students, the school based portion of the IEP teams will be preparing to address student-specific needs resulting from the closure and will address those needs with the full IEP team, including meaningful consultation with parents, when school resumes.  This is similar to conversations held with parents prior to or after summer break. 

    Does the Governor’s Proclamation allow for evaluation/eligibility and IEP meetings during the school closure?
    Answer:  Absolutely!  This is a great opportunity for IEP meetings and evaluation meetings to be held.  As Orting Schools are closed for instruction, completing meetings now will allow them to focus more on student needs once school is back in session.  Orting schools will be diligent in taking social distancing measures during these meetings. This means that meetings can be held using phone and Google technology.  This will be addressed on a case by case basis.    If the district does not hold an IEP or evaluation meeting in a timely manner, the district will document decisions made and why the timelines were exceeded.  

    Will district special education staff communicate with families during the closure?
    Answer:  Yes, staff will identify communication channels to and from parents and will ensure real time opportunities for questions and concerns that can be responded to and addressed as needed.

    I am dedicated to supporting your child and am open to new ideas and some creativity!  Please be safe. 

    Warmest Regards, 
    Christopher Willis
    Executive Director of Student Support Services
    Orting School District

     

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