Special Education

Special Education services are made available throughout the TIU area to member school districts, non-public schools, and to young children (pre-schoolage). School districts have the option to contract with the TIU to provide direct instructional services to school-age students. Services to preschool children in early intervention programs are free and are funded by state appropriations and federal grants.

Services & Supports​​

The Director for Special Education and the Supervisor of Special Education direct the operation of TIU programs and help to support a variety of special education initiatives in the member school districts. Each district sends a representative to the monthly TIU Special Education Advisory Council meeting to discuss concerns and to clarify issues regarding the effect of state and federal special education laws on the provision of services to students. Direct instructional supervision is also provided to teachers, therapists, psychologists and support staff both in TIU operated programs and contracted services to school districts or nonpublic school programs.

A teacher of the visually impaired provides direct instructional services to children with a diagnosed visual impairment that significantly affects their educational development. The services include support in reading, writing, vision stimulation activities, and listening skills. Also, orientation and mobility services may be provided to children with a severe visual impairment who need assistance learning to navigate within their environment.

Services given to children with an identified hearing loss that significantly affects their educational development. Certified teachers of the hearing impaired provide instruction with a strong emphasis on speech/language and auditory skills for preschool, elementary and secondary students. 

In Pennsylvania, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), is responsible for Early Intervention (EI) services to children birth to five years of age. Locally, the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit provides EI services for eligible children age three to entrance age for public school. To determine eligibility for services, children are evaluated in the areas of motor development, communication, personal-social development, adaptive/self-help skills and cognitive/thinking/reasoning skills. If a child demonstrates at least a 25% delay in one or more of the above areas, or scores 1.5 standard deviations below the mean on a standardized test, the child would be eligible for Early Intervention services. If a child is eligible for EI services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed to define the services and goals that best meet the needs of the child. Services may include Specialized Instruction, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Hearing Support Services and/or Vision Support Services. EI services may be provided in the child’s home, Head Start, preschool or child care center.

Extended School Year (ESY) refers to special education and/or related services provided beyond the normal school year for the purpose of providing FAPE to a student with a disability. These services, provided by a local education agency are distinct from enrichment programs, summer school programs, and compensatory services and are not simply an extension of time. The consideration of ESY services is a part of the IEP process.

The following factors should be considered when determining the need for ESY services: regression/recoupment, degrees of progress, emerging skills/breakthrough opportunities, interfering behaviors, the nature and/or severity of the disability and special circumstances or other factors

The IEP team must determine whether the benefits the child gained during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if the student does not receive ESY. Based on this, if ESY is determined to be needed, these services are provided at no cost to families.

Services given to children who have difficulty with balance, coordination, body awareness, and sensory input. A physician’s authorization is required to evaluate a child for this service. This program is designed to assist a student in perceptual-fine motor activities, upper extremity strength, self-care activities such as eating and dressing, sensory impairment, and coordination and quality of movement. Services are provided when motor functioning affects a student’s access to the educational environment. 

The Physical Therapy staff at IU 11 address a student’s ability to participate in school and access his/her environment in a safe and functional manner. Licensed physical therapists conduct evaluations for those who are eligible and students receive physical therapy on a regular basis throughout the school year at home, in a preschool or in the school setting. The focus is on functional positioning, mobility, endurance, muscle strength, and adaptations to the environment. Additionally TIU 11 loans PT equipment to districts that contract with IU 11 for services.

These services provide psycho-educational assessment, counseling and consultative services to school age students in public and nonpublic schools, as well as the early intervention population. Students are referred by their program supervisor or principal. The psychologist participates with the evaluation/IEP team to assess such factors as the student’s intellectual functioning, academic progress, learning style and affective development. School psychologists also consult with and provide suggestions to parents, school and agency personnel regarding behavior management, instructional techniques and emotional development.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education initiated the ACCESS Program during the 1991-92 school year. The program, now referred to as the School-Based ACCESS Program (SBAP), is an avenue for school entities to receive additional federal funding through Medicaid dollars for medical/mental health-related special education services rendered by qualified staff to students enrolled in the PA Medical Assistance Program.

The SBAP is a partnership between the PA Department of Education (PDE) and the PA Department of Public Welfare (DPW). Public Consulting Group (PCG) is the statewide contractor selected by PDE to perform the day-to-day operations of the SBAP.

Funds received from the SBAP must be used within the district or intermediate unit’s special education program.

Delivers social skills instruction to individuals and small groups using research based programs. 

Identifies and coordinates community services necessary for success. 

Collaborates with all treatment team members to provide relevant information,  identify areas of need and develop resolutions. 

Provides individual counseling to children.

Provides family counseling.

Provides positive behavior support strategies to teachers, para-educators, and caregivers

Functions as a liaison between the school and home setting so that a home-school partnership is created.

Services are provided to students who have difficulty saying sounds and using/ understanding language. Those who require a communication system other than speech, such as communication boards and sign language are provided support in language development. This service is designed to identify and support school age and preschool students with speech and/or language problems such as articulation, fluency, voice and language impairments. Direct or consultative services are provided to the student. Support is often provided to classroom teachers and/or parents to assist in the maintenance and carryover of skills developed through speech and language therapy.

This federally funded program is intended to provide technical assistance and training to support local school districts and families. Areas of support services are: Response to Instruction and Intervention, School Improvement, Autism, Transition (to world of work), Inclusion, Assistive Technology, Reading and Math, Progress Monitoring, Positive Behavior Support, Special Education Regulations, and Interagency Services. IU consultants coordinate and provide staff development workshops and on-site support at the request of member school districts.

The TIU coordinates special education transportation at school districts’ request for special education students who require specialized transportation to get to and from their school program. Accommodations include a smaller student population on the vehicle, special seating adaptations and variations in the length of the school day. Transportation for eligible preschool children attending IU and agency early intervention programs is also provided as indicated on the child’s individualized education plan.

Contact Us

To contact us, call 814-542-2501

Supervisor of special education

Fran Merrifield x 113

Transportation Questions

Sandy Moore x 132

Medical Access Questions

Kathy Renninger x 114

Lori Espigh x 111

 

To make a referral

Jen Heister x 135