Special Education Update

  • January 29, 2021 Update: Spring Reopening and Distance Learning

    [Encontrará la traducción al Español debajo de la versión en Inglés.]

    Dear Families of Students with IEPs

    I’m reaching out to provide an update as we look to the future and plan for an eventual return to in-person learning. I continue to marvel at your students’ resilience and the commitment of our faculty and staff to meet the educational needs of all in the virtual platforms. It seems that current-day struggles have promoted innovation, creativity, and compassion despite the pandemic. We have had many wins and some challenges. However, I am reminded every day of the grace of our community and their patience as we continue to push towards new ways to serve our students who have individualized educational needs. Most conversations with our families end with gratitude and appreciation all the way around, and for that I am grateful. For those of you I have had the pleasure to connect with, I appreciate your time.

    We also want to share our appreciation for the voices of parents who contributed to our Thoughtexchange over the winter break, we are analyzing your input and are exploring ways to  enhance services and communication. Stay tuned for more information about an upcoming parent meeting where we will share the results. 

    Under the direction of the Board of Education, the department has met several times to discuss the reopening plans for our specialized cohorts, including the following: Aragon (Key), Burlingame (AAC and ATC), Capuchino (ATC and AAC), Hillsdale (BASE, AAC, and Key), and Mills (AAC and HOPE). The discussions have been productive, and site level teams have started creating individual ways to address the needs of our students and safely serve them on our campuses. These small cohorts are well suited for a return to school when conditions improve and with the opportunity for students and staff receiving the vaccines. Your student’s case manager will be in contact with you to discuss return to school plans and if you are interested to have your student return in the weeks to come as conditions become more safe to do so.

    Finally, as conditions continue to change, please know we are monitoring how to ensure that a return to school is a safe one, and we are  considering summer sessions that can support our students in new ways.  

    Thank you for your continued collaboration and partnership, and please let me know if I can assist you in any way.

    With appreciation, 

    Holly Wade, Ph.D. 
    Director, Special Education Services

    29 de Enero de 2021:  Reapertura de Primavera y Aprendizaje a Distancia

    Estimadas Familias de Estudiantes con IEP:

    Me estoy comunicando para proporcionar una actualización mientras miramos hacia el futuro y planeamos un eventual regreso al aprendizaje en persona. Sigo asombrada por la capacidad de recuperación de sus estudiantes y el compromiso de nuestra facultad y personal para satisfacer las necesidades educativas de todos en las plataformas virtuales. Parece que las luchas actuales han promovido la innovación, la creatividad y la compasión a pesar de la pandemia. Hemos tenido muchas victorias y algunos desafíos. Sin embargo, recuerdo todos los días la gracia de nuestra comunidad y su paciencia mientras seguimos avanzando hacia nuevas formas de servir a nuestros estudiantes que tienen necesidades educativas individualizadas. La mayoría de las conversaciones con nuestras familias terminan con gratitud y aprecio en todos los sentidos, y por eso estoy agradecida. Para aquellos de ustedes con los que he tenido el placer de comunicarme, les agradezco su tiempo.

    También queremos compartir nuestro agradecimiento por las voces de los padres que contribuyeron a nuestro intercambio de pensamientos durante las vacaciones de invierno, estamos analizando sus comentarios y explorando formas de mejorar los servicios y la comunicación. Estén atentos para obtener más información sobre una próxima reunión de padres donde compartiremos los resultados. 

    Bajo la dirección de la Junta de Educación, el departamento se ha reunido varias veces para discutir los planes de reapertura para nuestras cohortes especializadas, incluidas las siguientes: Aragon (Key), Burlingame (AAC y ATC), Capuchino (ATC y AAC), Hillsdale ( BASE, AAC y Key) y Mills (AAC y HOPE). Las discusiones han sido productivas y los equipos de los sitios escolares han comenzado a crear formas individuales de abordar las necesidades de nuestros estudiantes y atenderlos de manera segura en nuestras escuelas. Estos pequeños grupos estudiantiles son adecuados para regresar a la escuela cuando las condiciones mejoren y con la oportunidad para que los estudiantes y el personal reciban las vacunas. El administrador de casos de su estudiante se pondrá en contacto con usted para discutir los planes de regreso a la escuela y si está interesado en que su estudiante regrese en las próximas semanas a medida que las condiciones se vuelvan más seguras para hacerlo.

    Finalmente, mientras las condiciones continúan cambiando, sepa que estamos monitoreando cómo garantizar que el regreso a la escuela sea seguro y estamos considerando sesiones de verano que puedan ayudar a nuestros estudiantes de nuevas maneras.  

    Gracias por su colaboración y asociación continuas, y por favor hágame saber si puedo ayudarlo de alguna manera.

    Con agradecimiento, 

    Holly Wade, Ph.D. 
    Directora, Servicios de Educación Especial


  • August 7, 2020

    We understand that there are many unknowns as we look toward opening our schools in the weeks ahead. The following is the most current information about SMUHSD's plans for when the 2020-2021 instructional year begins on August 17, 2020 and applies specifically to students with disabilities and IEPs in our District.  We value the partnership we have with you, and understand that distance learning is difficult for some students.  We remain committed to work with you and your child to ensure the best possible remote learning experience for them as we continue to monitor and determine when it is safe and permissible to bring students back to our campuses. 

    Because SMUHSD schools are not permitted to reopen for in-person instruction at the present time, SMUHSD will be providing instruction to both general education and special education students through a distance learning instructional model.  Distance learning may include interaction, instruction, and check-ins between teachers and students through the use of technology; video and/or audio instruction; and/or the use of print materials. Distance learning also includes daily live interaction between students and teachers and peers, unless infeasibility requires development of an alternative plan to provide frequent live interaction.

    For students with IEPs, SMUHSD will provide special education and related services and accommodations in a manner that ensures that your child's IEP can be executed in the distance learning environment. As you know, your child's IEP was written to be implemented in an in-person instructional model.  Because a distance learning instructional model differs from an in-person instructional model, the execution of your child's IEP in a distance learning model may vary from the manner in which your child's IEP is implemented during in-person instruction at a school site. If your child’s IEP does not already describe the means by which the individualized education program will be provided under these emergency conditions, this issue will be addressed at the next regularly scheduled IEP meeting.

    Our staff will be in contact with you to discuss your child's plan to start the year so they feel welcome on their first day of school, August 17.  You will additionally be contacted by your child's case manager and service provider(s) regarding implementation of their alternative distance learning plan on or before August 31, 2020.  Please reach out to me, or your child's case manager if you have questions about the start of school


    Holly Wade, Ph.D.
    Director of Special Education

Special Education Online Resources

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    Place. Together we will get through this and experience our strength and interconnectedness more deeply than before. This is not a comprehensive list and is intended to spark your creativity and curiosity. Be Well SMC!

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    Autism Speaks wants to share some resources and information that may help you at this time. These pages will be updated regularly as new content is developed.

    Covid 19 Resources and Information including:

    How to cope with disrupted personal routines during COVID-19

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    The Autism Society of America understands the ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19, and the added challenges it brings to the autism community. They will continually update relevant and reputable resources and information surrounding Coronavirus, and provide support during this crisis, and always.

    Visit the Autism Society website for resources including:

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    View Google Slide presentation created by Steven Forth, Board Certified Behavior Analyst.






    Child Mind Institute Child Mind Institute  

    The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Their teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain and empower parents, professionals and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most.

    News of the coronavirus COVID-19 is everywhere, from the front page of all the papers to the playground at school. Many parents are wondering how to bring up the epidemic in a way that will be reassuring and not make kids more worried than they already may be.

    Visit the Child Mind Institute website for some advice from the experts.

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    ReadWorks.org logo Readworks

    ReadWorks is committed to solving America’s reading comprehension crisis and student achievement gap. Driven by cognitive science research, ReadWorks creates world-class content, teacher guidance, and integrated tools that improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement.

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    Visit the Readworks website for resources related to reading comprehension including:


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    Access links to more than thirty virtual field trips including: 



    Los Angeles Unified School District Division of Special Education

    The Los Angeles Unified School District, Division of Special Education’s COVID-19 Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities created a web page that will be updated periodically throughout the week. Access these supplemental resources to support your child's distance learning experience.

Wellness Resources for Parents and Guardians