Exceptional Children’s Programs
All nine schools in Teton County School District #1 offer significant special education programs. The needs vary widely among the schools and sometimes even within a school with a small population. State and Federal law mandate that every child, regardless of disability or degree of severity of that disability, has a right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) and that this education will be provided in the most appropriate, least restrictive environment. The development of needed programs and services in Teton County School District #1 occurs in a partnership among the school, parents, students, and other agencies. This partnership enables children to participate in the most appropriate programming and services, be they "special" or "regular," designed to enhance each child's opportunities to experience an educational benefit.
Wyoming identifies thirteen categories of potential identification for special education:
Teton County School District #1 has children identified for special education in every one of these categories. It is a federal mandate that the school district conduct a Child Find Process to ensure that all children with disabilities who live in the district receive services. Close contact is maintained with early childhood programs to assist these children as soon as they register in kindergarten.
The special education staff includes four school psychologists, four speech/language therapists, two occupational therapists, one physical therapist, one adaptive physical education teacher, and twenty-four special education teachers as well as a number of part-time professionals under contract to meet special needs. Teachers are also assisted by a para-professional staff.
The special education program provides services ranging from intense life skills programs to simple consulting to ensure that students stay on track academically.
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed for every student who receives special education services. The IEP outlines the student’s goals and strategies that will be used to help the student achieve them. An IEP meeting must be held every year to review the student’s program. If a student does not make progress toward the goals during the school year, additional IEP meetings must be scheduled to further address the student’s needs.
Occasionally students who are severely impaired may be placed in an educational facility not administered by the school district. However, the district’s goal is to keep students in the least restrictive environment within the district whenever possible.
Significant training and resources are provided to special education personnel to help them meet the challenges presented. Within the past year, a special training effort has boosted our staff’s understanding of and ability to deal with autism which is a disability that is rapidly increasing across the nation. A federal special education grant provides the funding for such training and for special resources that are needed for all disabilities.