The Columbia County School System offers tailored programs to pupils with special needs.
Special needs children can begin receiving school services as early as 3 years old. Those services are offered in classroom settings, or at the child's home or day care, based on what school officials and parents determine to be in the child's best interest.
"The (Individualized Education Program) team, which is made up of the parent and any provider set working with the children, would sit with us and we would determine what services they need," Cathie Justen, director of special education in Columbia County, said. "Those are the ones that make that decision with the parent."
Belair, Grovetown and Martinez elementary schools all host special needs classes for pupils beginning at the age of 3 years old. Two special needs teachers travel to homes and day cares to provide a tailored learning program to students not in a classroom.
Though no decision has been reached yet, Justen said the school system might add another special needs class at different elementary school for the 2005-06 school year.
"As the program grows, additional teachers are added," she said.
Transportation is provided for any special needs student not living in the zone of an elementary school with a special needs class.
"If you live in Harlem and we think your child should go to Martinez Elementary, we provide the transportation for your child," Justen said.
The school system services about 2,200 students with specials needs, Justen said. Special needs includes pupils who are autistic, deaf or hard of hearing, blind, have emotional or behavioral disorders, mild to severe intellectual disabilities, orthopedic impairments and health impairments, she said.
"We serve a lot of disabilities in the public school setting," Justen said. "It's not just mentally impaired students."
Special needs students are often referred for special services to the school system by a physician or a state agency.
"We do an assessment to determine if they qualify for our services," Justen said. "If they do, we determine how to meet their needs in the most appropriate manner.''
Anyone with a special needs child wishing to receive school system services can call the special services department at 541-2700.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.