Special Education Policy—Adat Shalom (Bethesda, MD)
It is the goal of the Adat Shalom Torah School to provide a classroom environment in which children with differing learning styles can achieve success as they progress through the curriculum. The Torah School is committed to working in partnership with any family with a child requiring special accommodations or modifications within the regular Jewish educational program.
Towards these ends, it is the policy of the Torah School to sensitize teachers to special needs issues and to strategies for teaching to different learning styles. The Torah School will employ, as part of the staff for the Hebrew program, a Special Education teacher who will function as a resource teacher for the Hebrew program. In addition, the Torah School will utilize the special education resources available through the Board of Jewish Education.
At the same time, the Torah School is committed to and responsible for providing a classroom environment in which all children feel safe, teachers feel respected, and in which teaching and learning can occur. Regrettably, in the context of a school which meets only a few hours per week, is largely staffed by lay educators, and is subsidized by the congregation, there are limits as to how much can be provided for individual children. As a result, while the Torah School will be able to serve most students, it may not be possible to accommodate every child or to provide all the accommodations that might be specified in an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
In recognition of our goals and our constraints, the Adat Shalom Board of Education has adopted the following policy guidelines and procedures in order to foster a positive and productive environment for all our students:
Information Sharing and Confidentiality - Information about individual needs is critical to best serve children with differing learning styles. Accordingly, parents of children who are entering the Torah School with special needs should, prior to the start of the school year, familiarize the Education Director with the child's needs and share relevant information such as a child's IEP and/or reports written by professionals working with the child. We recognize that confidentiality is of utmost importance. Therefore, the information provided to the Education Director will be kept strictly confidential and will be shared only with the child's teacher(s).
Remedial Assistance - For some students to experience success in Torah School will require more, or more individualized, instruction than the School can provide. If the Education Director determines that a student needs remedial assistance, the Education Director will notify the parents and, on request, provide referrals to tutors.
Accommodations - For some students, modifications in schedule, program, materials and/or expectations may be appropriate to best meet the needs of those children. Where the parents or the Education Director believe that such accommodations are appropriate, parents shall be prepared to meet with the Education Director to consider modifications that are responsive to the child's needs and that, in the Education Director's judgment, are viable.
If a student can function in a regular classroom setting only with the help of a personal aide and the Education Director concludes that the presence of such an aide is such a viable alternative, the Education Director will endeavor to assign a madrich or other appropriate aide to the child.
If concerns arise as to whether a student can be accommodated in a Torah School classroom, the Education Director will promptly notify the parents and will request an immediate meeting with the parents to discuss the situation. The results of such meeting shall be documented and shared with the parents. If, following such a meeting, the concerns persist, the Education Director shall convene a committee of three persons, including the Education Director and the classroom teacher, to determine whether the student can continue to be accommodated. The parents of the child will be invited to meet with the committee. If the committee concludes that accommodation is no longer possible, the Education Director will so notify the parents and will, on request, assist the parents in finding an alternative means of Jewish education for the child outside of the Torah School setting.
Review Procedures - Parents who disagree with a decision by the Education Director in carrying out this policy should have the opportunity to raise their concerns with the congregational leadership. Accordingly, at the request of a parent, a sub-committee of the Board of Education, consisting of the Chair, Vice-Chair, and President of the Congregation, shall meet with the parent and the Education Director to review a decision by the Education Director under this policy.
Financial Responsibility - In general, it shall be the responsibility of the parents to pay the cost of tutoring or of a personal aide where such an aide is an agreed-upon accommodation. In keeping with Adat Shalom's philosophy, in cases of financial hardship, the parents may request the Finance Committee to make an appropriate adjustment in the parents' tuition obligations.
Approved by the Board of the Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, January 30, 2001, Education Director: Mary Meyerson