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Special Education

Take Action

Click here to learn more about how to take action on the following special education issues:

  1. A customizable draft letter to respond to your supervisor concerning your excessive workload.
  2. The link where you share your experience with NEA for federal lobbying efforts.
  3. A draft letter to the Maryland Federal Delegation members. It also allows you to send to the Secretary of Education, the President, and Vice President.

Additional Resources

Special Education FAQ

Updated: April 2024

Response: No. There is no rule or administrative procedure outlining schedules.  Teachers’ schedules should be aligned to schools’ master schedules as determined by each school’s administration.

Response: A Parent Questionnaire (PQ) is part of the evaluation of any student in the initial IEP process.  The BAT has provided a bilingual Spanish PQ to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team for parents who do not speak English.  It is still the responsibility of the case manager to collect information from the parent.  The case managers may use the Spanish version of the PQ to assist with this process to support the team effort.

Response: Special Education Coordinators, Special Education Chairperson, and IEP facilitators are asked to complete a yearly draft calendar at the end of each school year which allows each school to look at any overlap of reevaluations with annual IEP review meetings that are needed in preparation for the next school year.  Once the new school year begins, the annual review, reevaluation, and IEP meeting schedule is then finalized.  Each school determines how IEP meetings will be scheduled and who is the designated staff member to coordinate the meeting calendar. 

Response: The Department of Special Education has developed a vacancy plan to address all special education teacher vacancies. Please find the Compensatory Education Services training presentation provided to special education coordinators, IEP facilitators, and special education chairpersons during their November 2023 meeting.  This presentation provides the process and plan Prince George’s County Public School is doing to address special education vacancies.

Response: The dedicated aid assignment is a temporary job that is meant to support a student for a set period of time and is not meant to be a long-term solution of support. This support is provided to the student to enable him or her to move toward independence.

Temporary job/assignment pay rates are frequently reviewed and adjusted in accordance with federal guidelines, industry standards, and with consideration of any negotiated agreements that have similar positions. The pay rate was recently increased to $15.00 per hour, in alignment with the minimum wage requirement. In addition, employees have access to the following self-service benefits:

403 B – Tax-sheltered annuity plan

457 – Deferred Compensation Plan

All temporary employees also receive the Maryland Safe & Sick Leave and have entitlements to workers’ compensation similar to our permanent employees.

Response: In situations where a student poses a safety risk and lacks one-on-one support, it is crucial for the School team to prioritize the safety of both the student and staff members. School staff may need to implement specific interventions or responses as indicated in a student’s Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) or seek additional classroom support in the absence of one-on-one staff.  Each school principal will develop a coverage plan when there are staffing absences or vacancies. When a student with a disability is suspended for behaviors related to their disability, there is a risk of the actions that are taken being viewed as discriminatory and a punishment to the student for skills they do not have (i.e. self-regulation skills).   Students in CRI programs have significant cognitive disabilities and may not be aware that their behaviors are threatening or interfering with instruction.  Here are some other strategies that may also be considered:

  • Safety Issues: Any student who is displaying behaviors that are of a safety concern should have a Safety/Crisis plan detailing what any staff member would do to recognize potential escalation and respond in a way to reduce the amount of harm to anyone in the situation (staff, other students and the acting out student).
  • Controlling Behavior: Every school should have at least five (5) staff members trained in de-escalation strategies to support students who are experiencing a behavior crisis and how to respond to physical risk behaviors. School teams need to debrief crisis behavior situations to examine the cause of the behaviors, what the student is trying to communicate through those behaviors and discuss a plan on how to respond in the future.
  • Central Office Staff Support: Consult with your assigned Special Education Instructional Specialists and Crisis Intervention Resource Teachers for student/case-specific response strategies and on-site coaching in crisis de-escalation. If needed, please ask your Special Education Coordinator, IEP Facilitator, or Special Education Chairperson to submit a consult form to the Department of Special Education for support on specific student cases.
  • Address Safety Concerns in the Immediate Area:
    • Remove furniture or equipment that can be thrown around
    • Remove smaller objects that can be used to harm self or others
    • Remove other students who may be the target of the aggressive behavior
    • Remove excess staff that may serve as a trigger for the student
    • Provide constant supervision for the student to prevent self-harm
    • Provide materials or sensory items that have proven to calm the student in the past

Response: Each school has an assigned Compliance Specialist. Compliance Specialists are assigned to various schools to provide support to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal special education regulations. Their delivery of services to schools and teams is based on the needs of the school. This can be initiated by the school team or the assigned specialist. School personnel should reach out to their assigned specialist to schedule a time to consult as needed. Compliance Specialists also participate in breakout rooms at monthly Elementary and Secondary Chairs/IEP Facilitator meetings. The current compliance specialist list can be found here.

Response: The Special Education Staffing Guidelines provide an overview of how special services are staffed including the approximate caseload for resource teachers.  Please find a link to the Special Education Staffing Guidelines here: https://www.pgcps.org/globalassets/offices/special-education/docs-special-education/dse-staffing-plan-2024-aw-updated-klwfinal-boe-approved.pdf

Response: Staff should ensure the safety of all students and address any immediate elopement risks. School staff should collaborate with the student’s IEP team to develop or update individualized plans that address student-specific needs and behaviors. This may involve adjustments to the existing plan, developing a BIP, providing additional support, or modifications to the learning environment. Communicate the safety concerns to the principal, special education coordinators, and other relevant personnel to ensure a collaborative comprehensive classroom safety plan is in place for addressing student behavior.  If needed, please ask your Special Education Coordinator, IEP Facilitator or Special Education Chairperson to submit a consult form to the Department of Special Education for support on specific student cases. Here are some additional tips to consider:

To ensure that all students are accounted for, staff should have an attendance/headcount protocol used during any transition throughout the school building or playground areas.  In addition, the classroom teacher should ensure that students with elopement behavior are closely monitored and supervised during transitions. 

Any student who is displaying behaviors that are of safety concern (including eloping) should have a Safety/Crisis plan detailing what any staff member would do to recognize potential escalation and respond in a way to reduces the amount of harm to anyone in the situation (staff, other students and the acting out student). The safety plan will include: Identifying the problem, generating solutions, deciding on the next steps, communicating changes to the team and stakeholders, professional development on strategies, coaching, and monitoring that changes are being implemented.

Response: PGCPS has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with  The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University. The Center is a federally funded center with exemplary elementary and secondary education programs for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. It is tasked with developing and disseminating innovative curricula, instructional techniques, and products nationwide while providing information, training, and technical assistance for parents and professionals to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing (DHOH) students from birth to age 21. Based on the MOU, The Clerc team is not completing observations for the evaluation process which becomes part of the teacher’s record. The Clerc team is providing technical assistance regarding PGCPS implementation of best practices in DHOH education. These best practices are expected to improve academic progress in areas, such as reading, that have been lagging.

Response: The DSE has developed a contracted vendor partnership to provide instructional and behavioral support to select schools with high special education staffing vacancies or schools with a significant number of students with intensive behaviors. Our collaboration with an approved contracted vendor has been a proactive approach to finding specialized teaching staff to support students enrolled in special education programs. At this time, only two special education teacher positions have been contracted to fill school special education teacher vacancies. In addition, the DSE is providing paraprofessionals and registered behavior technicians (RBTs) as interim measures to address the immediate needs of schools facing high staffing vacancies.

Response: The shortage of qualified special education teachers and related service providers has been an ongoing concern. Addressing this shortage is crucial for ensuring that students with special needs receive the appropriate support.

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