PVRHS

Passaic Valley Regional High School support site

Passaic Valley High to expand special needs services

- Jul• 20•17

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LITTLE FALLS — The co-teaching model at Passaic Valley High School is growing.

The district plans to add three staff members to its special education department.

They will be assigned to work with special needs students and to co-teach with a general education teacher in the mainstream classrooms.

More special education staff members are being hired to handle the increase in special needs students who will be coming to Passaic Valley High School in the 2017-18 school year. The school will be getting 37 students with special needs.

The district will also be adding more electives for special needs students and more services to support their individualized education program (IEP) needs, according to Superintendent JoAnn Cardillo. An IEP is the detailed educational plan created for each special needs student.

Cardillo spoke about the changes coming to the curriculum for students with special needs during the Little Falls Township Council meeting last Monday, when she also addressed other changes to the curriculum.

The district will be adding a multiple-disabilities class for students who have more than one classification, Cardillo said.

“We are opening the class to be sure that students can be served according to their developmental needs,” she said.

Passaic Valley High School implemented a co-teaching model last year to better serve students with disabilities. Co-teaching allows special education students to take general education classes with mainstream students, while providing them with specialized services.

The special education and general education teachers meet and plan together. Instruction for the special education students is planned according to their IEP.

Co-teaching models are becoming more common in school districts in North Jersey. Wyckoff, West Orange and Madison also use a co-teaching model.

In June, cuts were made in the 2017-18 Passaic Valley High School budget from the previous year to accommodate hiring new special education staff members.

Cuts were also made to the budget as part of a programmatic downsizing, which affected various classes.

During Passaic Valley High School Board of Education meetings in May, parents and students said they were glad the special education curriculum was expanding, but urged board members not to get rid of teachers in other departments.

The board terminated Lisa Clark, a physical education teacher and assistant girls lacrosse coach, and Kevin Ketcho, a business teacher and adviser of the school’s Future Business Leaders Club. These cuts were part of the programmatic downsizing.

They kept Carolyn Macchia, a technical occupation and television production technology teacher, on staff. Macchia was slated to be terminated at the end of the 2016-17 school year, but wasn’t, due to the public outcry from students, parents and teachers to keep her position.

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