Special Services Department

Special Education Department Overview

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District is responsible for providing special education services to all resident students who qualify for such supports. These services are coordinated by the district’s Special Services Department, which encompasses the district’s Committees for Special Education at the preschool, elementary and secondary levels. The Special Services Department also oversees the district’s health (nurses), counseling and mental health (social workers and school psychologists) services for all resident students.


Special Education NEWS & EVENTS

Get Together Day, Sept. 7

Students, friends and families are invited to the Get Together Day on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at John Boyd Thacher State Park, 830 Thacher Park Road, Voorheesville. Meet at the Visitor Center for tours and activities. A hawk watch and Birds of Prey program will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Upper Overlook area. [Detailed Flyer]

Special Education PTA to Begin in 2019-20, Members Being Sought

Next school year, BH-BL’s PTA groups will be expanded to include a Special Education PTA. To help get this new PTA group up and running, SEPTA organizers are seeking members, as well as volunteers to help write the bylaws and nominate potential officers. Members will ideally meet once before school is out and at least once over the summer, possibly more. In September, SEPTA plans to host an informational meeting facilitated by someone from NYS PTA who specializes in special education PTA groups. SEPTA’s goal is to start accepting full membership and be up and running for the 2019-20 school year.

The vision for this group includes:

  • Representatives from all five schools in the district, as well as parents of preschool students, and “super seniors” – children 18 – 21 who are still able to receive services through the district, possibly even homeschooling families
  • District personnel, including administrators and those on the front line working directly with our students
  • Parents of children who are not yet receiving services, but think their child might be eligible for a 504 or an IEP, or need screening
  • Parents of children who are classmates or friends with children with special needs
  • Representatives from the Special Education PTA willing to report back to the PTAs at their home school
  • Guest speakers coming in to present on topics of interest
  • An organization that can spearhead opportunities for more integration and social opportunities through
  • A positive network among all of us involved
  • Not a replacement for existing PTAs in the district, but a partner to enhance opportunities

If you are interested in becoming a Special Education PTA member, please send an email to Carolyn Huston at bhblsepta@yahoo.com. In the email, indicate if you are also interested in serving on the start-up committee or being one of the initial officers.


Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE)

Committee on Preschool Special Education Chairperson
Kathy Burns  |  Phone: 518-399-9141, ext. 85036

The district’s Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) is responsible for ensuring that parents are aware of the opportunities available for evaluation of children 3-5 years old who are suspected of having a disability, and for services to preschool children with disabilities. The committee consists of representatives from preschool special education agencies, county administrators, parents and district staff. All recommendations for services are made to the Board of Education. If you have concerns about your child’s development, or would like more information, please call the Special Services Department.

Committee on Special Education (CSE)

Committee on Special Education (K-12) Chairperson
Darcy Passarelli  |  Phone: 518-399-9141, ext. 84150

The Committee on Special Education (CSE) is sanctioned and regulated by New York State. It acts as a multi-disciplinary team to evaluate the management, academic, physical and social needs of the referred child and determines if there is an educational disability. The CSE must then decide on an appropriate program or placement for the student and the need for related services (i.e. occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, etc.) if necessary.


Understanding Special Services

IEP Plan vs. 504 Plan

A 504 Plan and an IEP are both intended to protect a student with a disability to ensure that they are learning in the least restrictive environment. A 504 Plan and an IEP have unique differences. They’re each covered by different laws and work in different ways. But the end goal is the same: to help students be successful in school.

A 504 plan is a blueprint for how the school will provide supports and remove barriers for a student with a disability, so the student has equal access to the general education curriculum. Some kids with learning and attention issues don’t need special education or individualized instruction. But they might still need supports or services at school. Depending on their challenges, they may be able to get that help through a 504 plan. These plans prevent discrimination and protect the rights of kids with disabilities in school. They’re covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is a civil rights law. These plans aren’t part of special education, so they don’t provide individualized instruction, like IEPs do. The main purpose of the 504 plan is to give kids with disabilities access to the same education their classmates are getting.

If a 504 plan is not helping your child or your child has more significant needs than it may be time to consider an Individual Education Plan (IEP). An IEP Provides individualized special education and related services to meet the unique needs of the child. In developing the IEP, the committee considers evaluations, student strengths, concerns of the parent and, where appropriate, student performance on state and district assessments. An IEP documents the following: present level of performance; how the student’s disability impacts his/her participation in the general curriculum; classification of the disability; annual goals; recommended programs and services; whether or not the student will participate in state or alternate assessments; a list of any alternative accommodations; a list of any assistive technology devices; and transitional goals at the appropriate time.

Extended School Year Overview

Extended School Year Principal (Grs. K-12): Kerstin King
Phone: 518-399-9141, ext. 84150

The Committee on Special Education (CSE) must determine whether a student requires extended school year special education services in order to prevent substantial regression. Substantial regression would be indicated by a student’s inability to maintain developmental levels due to a loss of skill, set of skill competencies or knowledge during the months of July and August. In accordance with section 200.6(k) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, students must be considered for twelve-month special services and/or programs to prevent substantial regression if they are students:

  • whose management needs are determined to be highly intensive and require a high degree of individualized attention and intervention and who are placed in special classes;
  • with severe multiple disabilities, whose programs consist primarily of habilitation and treatment and are placed in special classes;
  • who are recommended for home and/or hospital instruction whose special education needs are determined to be highly intensive and require a high degree of individualized attention and intervention or who have severe multiple disabilities and require primarily habilitation and treatment;
  • whose needs are so severe that they can be met only in a seven-day residential program; or
  • receiving other special education services who, because of their disabilities, exhibit the need for twelve-month special service and/or program provided in a structured learning environment of up to 12 months duration in order to prevent substantial regression.

Graduation Requirements

All students should seek to earn a Regents or Advanced Regents diploma, but students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are also eligible to receive a Local Diploma if they earn a grade of 55% or higher on five NY State Regents exams (English, Global Studies, US History, Integrated Algebra and one science exam), OR if they successfully complete the NYS competency safety net option. Students should see their special education teachers or counselor for detailed information regarding this option.

A student who completes a five-unit sequence in Career & Technical Education, art or music may earn an Advanced Regents Diploma and be exempt from the world language requirement. Career & Technical Education includes courses in business education, family & consumer sciences and technology education.

Family Supports Through OPWDD

The New York State Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) provides families with a variety of services like respite, family reimbursement, recreation, counseling, training and support. For more information,  visit the OPWDD website.

Publications and Links for Special Education Parents & Students

Special Education Continuum of Services– Produced by the Burnt Hills Ballston-Lake Central School District (2018).

Parent Guide to Special Education – A Parent’s Guide to Special Education provides information for parents, guardians and other family members about laws, regulations and policies affecting special education programs and services. Spanish translation also available at this site.

Parent Network of the Capital Region– Website that provides parents with knowledge, skills, resources and support to effectively advocate for their children and to facilitate productive relationships between parents and school districts for the benefit of students with disabilities.

IDEA 2004 Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 information.

Information for Parents of Preschool Students with Disabilities AGES 3-5 Website with information for parents of preschool children suspected of having a disability.

Procedural Safeguards Notice Website that describes the rights of a parent with a child with a disability

Parts 200 and 201 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Website with information on the responsibilities of school districts and provides definitions as related to services for students with disabilities.

Safety Net Options Available to Students with Disabilities to Graduate with a Local Diploma