Contact:

Kara Saldierna
Director of Special Education Services

Office
(531) 299-9461

Fax
(531) 299-0386

kara.saldierna@esu19.org

Special Education Information

Omaha Public Schools offers a variety of high quality services to students with disabilities from birth through the school year in which the student turns 21. Parents and families work with school staff to develop an Individual Education Program (IEP) or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) that addresses the needs of the student. Special Education programs and services are available at each building in the district. Some programs are available at selected sites and we bring children to a particular location for specialized, intensive, remedial instruction.

Many support staff work with general educators and special educators to provide related services that students need to participate in their educational program. Speech language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, hearing and vision resource teachers, audiologists and consultants travel between buildings to work with students, teachers and other staff.

In a given school year, over 9,000 students receive some type of special education services from the district. There are over 600 special education teachers/therapists and over 300 paraprofessionals who work with principals, general educators and other building staff to create individualized, inclusive school environments.

The building principal and staff can answer any questions you may have about special education services in the district. And, of course, feel free to contact any staff from Special Education services as well.

For more information, please contact the Special Education Office at (531) 299-0244.


 
Special Education Services
 
Mission
     
Our mission is to provide leadership, services and support to strengthen the capacity of schools, families and communities to enhance student success by establishing high expectations and high quality education programs for all students with disabilities.
 
Vision
Our aspirations are to ensure all individuals with disabilities are academically proficient, gainfully employed and socially adjusted while continuing to improve academic results and postsecondary outcomes for students with special needs.  All students and children learn and grow in natural and inclusive environments with non-disabled peers.
 
Beliefs
 
  • Educational outcomes for students with disabilities replace procedural compliance as our primary focus.
  • Low expectations of the past are replaced with early intervention, individualized services, parent empowerment and accountability for results.
  • Students are supported in the least restrictive environment. 
  • Access to general education opportunities is the right of every student.
  • Participation and progress in the general curriculum is facilitated with the use of research-based academic, social and positive behavioral supports.
  • Students as members of a community must have the opportunity to attend their neighborhood school.
  • Communication and planning among professionals supports student transitions. 

 

Definition of Special Education
   
     

Special Education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of a child with a verified disability, including classroom instruction, home instruction, instruction in hospitals and institutions and in other settings and instruction in physical education.  the term includes travel training, vocational education, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy if the service consists of specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

   
Disability Definitions
   
 

Autism: To qualify for special education services in the category of autism the child must have a developmental disability which significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, is generally evident before age three, and that adversely affects a child's educational performance.  Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual response to sensory experiences.

Behavior Disorder: (referred to in the 2004 Amendments to the IDEA as "Emotional Disturbance")  In order to qualify for special education in the category of behavior disorder the child must have a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance or, in the case of children below age five, development:

(A)  An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, health factors.

(B)  An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

(C)  Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

(D)  A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

(E)  A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Deaf-Blindness:  To qualify for special education services in the category of Deaf-Blindness, the child must have concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes:  severe communication needs; and other developmental and educational needs.  The severity of these needs is such that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Developmental Delay: To qualify for special education services in the category of developmental delay, the child shall have significant delay as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures in one or more of the following areas and, by reason thereof needs special education and related services:  Cognitive development, Physical development, Communication development, Social or Emotional development, Adaptive behavior or Skills development, or a diagnosed physical or medical condition that has a high probability of resulting in a substantial delay in function in one or more of such areas.

Hearing Impairments: To qualify for special education services in the category of hearing impairment, a child must have impairment in hearing which is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linquistic information through hearing with or without amplification, or is permanent or fluctuating, and adversely affects the child's development or educational performance.
Mental Handicap: To qualify for special education services in the category of mental handicap, the child must demonstrate: significantly sub average general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child's educational or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.  This term parallels the federal definition of mental retardation in the regulations implementing IDEA 2004.
Multiple Impairments: To qualify for special education services in the category of multiple impairments, the child must have concomitant impairments (such as mental handicap-visual impairment, mental handicap-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe developmental or educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.
Orthopedic Impairments: To qualify for services in the category of orthopedic impairment, the child must have a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Other Health Impairments: To qualify for special education services in the category of other health impairment, the child must have limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems which adversely affects the child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Specific Learning Disability: To qualify for special education services in the category of specific learning disability the child must have a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.  The category includes conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
Speech-Language Impairment: To qualify for special education services in the category of speech-language impairment, the child must have a communication disorder, such as:  stuttering; impaired articulation; language impairment; or voice impairment.  This disorder must adversely affect the child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Traumatic Brain Injury: To qualify for special education services in the category of traumatic brain injury, the child must have an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both that adversely affects a child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Visual Impairment, including Blindness: To qualify for special education services in the category of visual impairment, including blindness, the child must have an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.  This category includes children who have partial sight or blindness.
 

 

ESU # 19 / Omaha Public School District 28-0001

Special Education

Final Report

2018-2019

 

Behavior Support Training for Special Education Supervisors, School Psychologists, surrounding area district personnel

 

In order to support the Targeted Improvement Plan goal of: Increase staff capacity to implement positive behavior support for students with challenging behaviors, a portion of funds will be used to pursue contracting services with a consultant whose expertise is in the area of behavioral supports that include behavioral therapy, reinforcement strategies, and supporting students with autism.

 

Participants will include special education administrative supervisors, school psychologists, school social workers, school teams. Special education staff from surrounding school districts will also be invited to attend these sessions in an effort to coordinate the use of consultants to save on expenses.

As a result of this professional development opportunity, participants will be able to utilize behavior strategies to support the Targeted Improvement Plan to appropriately apply preventative measures and responses in order to appropriately support schools to manage student behavior. 

Co-Planning for Secondary Math and ELA Instruction

 

Secondary co-teaching teams are invited to attend a full day session dedicated to the co-planning stage of co-teaching.  The first hour will be a whole group information session.  The remaining hours of the session will be organized to provide teams with time to co-plan lessons in the areas of math, reading and language arts.

 

As a result of this professional development session, co-teaching teams are able to long range plan, develop lesson plans that incorporate high yield instructional strategies that support students with special needs. 

Co-Teaching Obstacles

 

This session, led by the Director of Special Education, will provide an opportunity for general education and special education (resource and BSP) teachers to take an honest look at co-teaching models and begin the discussion of ways to improve outcomes for all the students in class. Topics covered will include discussion of the various co-teaching models and various obstacles that arise when working to provide instruction in a co-taught setting.

As a result of this professional development session, co-teaching teams are able to determine which co-teaching model works best for their classroom, as well as have an honest discussion on the obstacles they face and determine ways to resolve these issues.

Digging Deeper into the Crisis Cycle

 

Children can be exposed to a range of traumatic experiences which can lead to challenges in the classroom.

 

Participants will gain an understanding on how students and staff respond to stress through the Crisis Cycle and how to develop strategies and interventions to support students in a trauma resilient way.

Participants will gain a  broader understanding of how students and staff respond to stress through the Crisis Cycle, gain interventions and strategies to help students de-escalate when they are displaying challenging behaviors and how to effectively problem solve with the student so healthy relationships are built and maintained.                                                                                                                                 

As a result of this training, participants will gain an understanding of the Crisis Cycle and how to effectively problem solve with students. Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of problem solving with students.  This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

Elementary Reading Intervention Training

 

Reading intervention for students in the elementary resource program is provided using direct instruction.  The current programs used include SRA Reading Mastery, SRA Corrective Reading, and Sonday System. Use of these direct instruction reading programs requires that elementary resource teachers have successfully participated in professional development for each program they use.  Each year, new staff members and those who have not previously participated in a professional development session for a selected program make up the target audience. Participants receive on-site support, coaching and modeling by the special education supervisor and/or instructional coach.  

 

As a result of participation in the professional development session(s), elementary resource teachers gain an understanding of the program and its use as well as the specific skills necessary to implement the direct instruction program.  In addition, on-site coaching, modeling and support is provided throughout the school year in order to maintain program fidelity and maximize student success.

Executive Functioning

Executive function is a domain of cognitive ability that includes skills such as working memory, abstract planning, attention and mental flexibility. The focus of this presentation will be on the various aspects of Executive Functioning and how staff can support students in the school setting.

 

As a result, participants will be able to recognize supports needed that are appropriate for students and address underlying needs through comprehensive intervention strategies.

Functional Behavior Assessment

 

The focus of this presentation will be on supporting staff to determine the function of student behavior and ways to determine appropriate replacement behaviors that help the student be successful in school, using a straight forward visual process. Participants will learn how to determine the function of a student’s behavior and how to determine appropriate replacement behaviors.

 

As a result, participants will be able to work with IEP teams and school staff to develop functional behavior assessments that help develop behavior intervention plans for students that support their behavioral needs.

General Behavior Intervention Plan Development

 

This session will review each section of the General-Behavior Intervention Plan (G-BIP) in detail, share intervention ideas for the various Ziggurat levels within the BIP, and practice completing a General-BIP on a current student. 

 

As a result, colleagues are able to collaborate regarding behavior interventions and to become familiar with the Behavior Intervention Process, which supports student and their behavioral needs.

GO Math! Tier 3 Intervention Training (Elementary Level, Grades K-6)

 

This session will provide teachers with a plan and resources needed to set up and feel comfortable using the Go Math! Tier 3 Intensive Intervention. This information will be applicable to first year teachers and teachers beyond their first year who want more information on how to use the intervention successfully. In addition, this session will support teachers in using the lessons and manipulatives with fidelity. This session will explore ways to teach math to struggling students. Participants will walk away with practical ideas to start planning for their small group math lessons the next day.

 

As a result of this training, participants will be able to implement Tier 3 math interventions for students using the Go Math! Curriculum and student achievement will increase.  On-site support, coaching and modeling by the special education administrators and/or special education instructional coaches will be provided. Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of the GO Math Tier! 3 intervention.  This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

 

Heartland’s Hand in Hand Model – Summer Autism Training Session

 

 “Hand in Hand” training is an evidence-based approach that uses a structured teaching format and the principles of applied behavior analysis to assist students with autism in achieving the highest level of independence possible.  The aim is to create the maximum number of instructional opportunities possible for a student throughout their entire school day.  This valuable “hands-on” training will provide participants with a wealth of information and skill development. During the week-long training, trainers and participants will work with students with autism who range in ages and ability levels.  Participants may include building administrators, general education teachers, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals.  Participants work in teams throughout the week, and will problem-solve strategies each day for students with autism.  In addition to directly working with students, participants experiences lectures and activities that include the characteristics of autism, structured teaching, communication, promoting social skills, independence, curriculum and positive behavioral supports.  Three week-long training sessions are planned for the summer.

As a result of the training, participants gain skills in assessing and meeting the needs of students with autism.  At the conclusion of the week-long training, participants understand how to create an environment that includes the components of structured teaching – physical structure, schedules, work systems, routines and visual structures in order to promote independence and student achievement.  Participants also receive the necessary materials to implement the approach.  Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of the various components of structured teaching.  This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

High Functioning Autism

 

We have many strategies to work with students who are non-verbal or have high needs, but it takes a different skill set to work with students who have High Functioning Autism.  The focus of this presentation will be on the unique characteristics of students with high functioning autism and ways staff can effectively support students in the school setting.

As a result, participants will be able to work with students and school teams to incorporate appropriate schedules, work systems and developing organization systems to help students be successful. 

Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with coaching. This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

Intensive Teaching of Verbal Behavior

 

This three-day session provides participants with hands on instruction and practice on key instructional protocols that are designed to address the core deficits of autism including the development of verbal skills, flexible responding and appropriate social interactions.

 

As a result, participants will increase their understanding and skills need to support students with autism or developmental disabilities that include how to schedule instruction, organization of materials, and databased decision making. ESU # 3 presenters will provide coaching and feedback on the implementation of the program.

It's Not Magic - Understanding and Working with Challenging Students

 

This session will be presented by the Director of the Integrated Learning Program (ILP). This session will delve into the research behind what happens when student’s brains are stressed and how that affects their behaviors in the classroom. It will also expand on strategies to use to when students are in crisis and how to prevent/get out of the dreaded power struggle. Participants will learn about compassion fatigue and how it affects them and what they can do about it. Working with challenging students may not be magic but it is also not a cakewalk. It takes time, energy, patience and a willingness to start every day new!

 

As a result, participants will increase their knowledge of the crisis cycle, effects of stress on students, compassion fatigue and how they can work in a positive manner to support students.

De-escalation Training (including certification, re-certification of district trainers, classroom teachers, paraprofessionals and school teams)

 

Schools must build and maintain a community where students feel valued, respected, and connected in order to succeed. When students realize their contributions are acknowledged and appreciated by their school community, they develop a sense of ownership and pride in their school, are more engaged in learning and reduce the frequency and severity of challenging behaviors. 

 

The Mandt System is an evidence-based research program that focuses on a system of gradual and graded alternatives for de-escalating and managing student behavior.  Training opportunities include the certification and re-certification of district Mandt trainers, re-certification of classroom teachers and paraprofessionals in the Alternate Curriculum and Behavioral Skills Programs, school teams, security personnel and training of the transportation department. 

As a result of the training, participants will gain skills in the understanding of the Crisis Cycle and be able to appropriately apply preventative measures and responses in order to appropriately manage student behavior.  Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of the Mandt System.  This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

Math and Vocabulary Instruction in a Co-Taught Setting (Gr. 7-12)

 

Each math co-teaching team at the middle and high school level is invited to participate in a professional development opportunity designed to increase the achievement of students in co-taught math classes.  This professional development opportunity focuses on providing each co-teacher (math and special education) with best practices and strategies to use in the classroom that allow for each co-teacher to be actively engaged in the classroom (despite background and area(s) of expertise). The session will be divided into stations.

Each station will include an overview, a proficiency rubric, an explanation of the math concepts, modeling of station activities, and time for the creation and planning of other station activities. The session is facilitated by the district’s math supervisors, special education administrators, and district math coaches. Participants receive a set of materials for use in their co-taught math class. 

As a result, of participation in this professional development opportunity, the achievement of students in the co-taught math classes will increase and teachers will have the opportunity to network and collaborate with their colleagues. Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of math strategies used in a co-taught setting.  This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

Reading and Math Tasks Make and Take

 

Educational tasks for students should be engaging and related to IEP goals. Tasks should be able to answer the following questions for students: 1) What work? 2) How much work? 3) When am I done? 4) What do I do when I am done? This professional development session will review the expectations and structuring of educational tasks. It will also provide teachers with time and supplies to create reading and math tasks that can be differentiated to meet a range of student abilities. Teachers will leave with at least three tasks and the book, Tasks Galore.

 

As a result, of this session, participants will leave with at least three tasks that support student achievement for reading and math IEP goals, which in turn will increase student engagement and achievement. Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of engaging educational tasks that support IEP goals. This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

Reinforcement Strategies to Support Students 

             

Did you know that reinforcement is 90% of the effectiveness of a lesson?  Visual reinforcement systems must be in place for students if we expect them to succeed and meet their learning and behavioral goals.  This session will focus on the Reinforcement level of the Ziggurat, the different types of reinforcement, and examples of different reinforcement systems used throughout the district.  

As a result, participants will be able to target the development or increase of a behavior or skills and incorporate reinforcement into the comprehensive plan. Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants. This coaching will assist with deep implementation of the reinforcement systems provided to students. This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

Sensory Support for Students

 

This session will provide teachers with information and strategies needed to help meet the sensory needs of students that they work with in self-contained special education classrooms or the general education classroom.  They will learn about sensory seekers/avoiders and strategies to meet each of those needs.  Information covered during this presentation: the Ziggurat Model, the difference between sensory seekers & avoiders, the 7 Sensory Systems, and characteristics of students with sensory needs, & interventions to meet the sensory needs of students at any grade level.   

     

As a result, participants will be able to support their students with sensory needs. Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with coaching. This coaching will assist with deep implementation of sensory support systems provided to students. This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.   

Student Consultation Team Training

 

School teams have been created to assist students with autism and challenging behaviors when transitioning from one setting to the next (i.e., Early Childhood Special Education to Kindergarten). Using a structured teaching format and the principles of applied behavior analysis assists students with autism in achieving the highest level of independence possible.  Components of a successful transition include use of schedules, work systems, and communication systems, as well as providing sensory strategies, and behavior supports. Teams will be provided work time to create systems that are directly tied to individual student’s needs. Toolkits will include materials and items that enhance schedules, work systems, behavior or sensory strategies and needs.

 

As a result, classroom teachers and students with autism and challenging behaviors will be provided with a variety of supplies and materials necessary to assist with the various transition, schedule and sensory needs that present themselves from one setting to the next.  Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of the work systems provided to students. This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.

Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom

 

There is an increasing need to understand childhood trauma and its profound effect on learning and teaching. Children can be exposed to a range of traumatic experiences, which can lead to challenges in the classroom.  In this session, participants will learn what trauma is and how it hinders the learning, motivation and success of students.  They will also explore the importance of strong relationships and creating a safe space that enables students to learn and flourish in their educational environment.

 

As a result of this training, participants will gain an understanding of childhood trauma and its effects on learning and how trauma impacts student success and what strategies and supports can be put in place to foster a safe learning environment and help build a resilient learner. They will partake in a book study that explores the various strategies for creating a trauma-sensitive classroom. Individual goals will be set by participants to begin to create a trauma-sensitive environment/classroom. Special education administrators will provide follow up support to participants with instructional coaching. This instructional coaching will assist with deep implementation of strategies that create a trauma-sensitive classroom.  This coaching is provided as part of the district-wide coaching plan, which directly ties back to the OPS Strategic Plan.