Special education services

Comprehensive programs for students with special needs

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  • special services

In Vancouver Public Schools, we believe in empowering each student, regardless of differences in ability, to reach his or her unique potential. Services are available for children and young adults with special needs from birth to age 21. Most students receive services in their neighborhood school, and when possible, in a traditional class setting.

A variety of programs and services are available:

Students receive special education instruction that uses varied techniques, materials and/or interventions as appropriate. Learning support staff work closely with general education staff and the district’s curriculum and instruction department.

This type of program exists in all VPS schools.

Specialized programs are provided to address specialized needs of students. Includes classes for students with emotional and/or behavioral disabilities and for those who need assistance developing their adaptive skills.

Available at specific schools. Each child’s IEP team will help design the specific types of services to support their educational program.

VPS is the host district for a countywide day treatment program for students in first through 12th grades with severe emotional and/or behavioral disabilities. This program is located at the Jim Tangeman Center. Working in cooperation with community mental health professionals, students receive a structured academic and mental health experience.

The Gateway to Adult Transition Education program serves 18- to 21-year-old students with developmental disabilities. The program is a community-based alternative-education program serving self-directed students who have the potential to participate in community and/or vocational activities.

Children ages birth to 3 are served under contract with Educational Service District 112 and Innovative Services Northwest.

Children ages 3 to 5 may be served in a variety of program models. Through the district’s Early Childhood Education Program, children receive individualized education in small-class settings to develop communication, motor, cognition, self-help and/or social skills.

  • Speech and language services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Nursing services
  • Transportation services
  • Home and hospital services for students who are out of school for a minimum of four weeks and are under a doctor’s care
  • American Sign Language services

Frequently asked questions

What is an IEP?

An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, describes what special education services a student will receive from the school district. It is drafted by an IEP team, which includes the parents. Students begin receiving special education program services as soon as their IEP is signed.

As appropriate, services are incorporated with general education curriculum and interactions with peers who do not have IEPs.

Parent/guardian(s) receive regular reports on students’ progress toward IEPs goals. In addition, the IEP team, including the parent(s), will review and update the IEP annually.

Which children are eligible to receive services?

Children ages birth to 21 may be eligible for special education when they have one of the following disability conditions which significantly affects educational performance and requires specially designed instruction. Students and their guardians who receive services participate in an individualized process.

A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction

Communication disorder
A speech or language impairment

Deaf and hard of hearing
Significant problems with hearing, even with amplification

Serious problems with sight and hearing

Emotional behavioral disability
Significant problems related to interpersonal skills or other emotional difficulties

Developmental delay
Delays in communication, physical, cognitive or social/emotional development

Other health impairment
Chronic or acute health or nervous system problems

Intellectual disability
Significantly below average intellectual ability manifested during the developmental period

Multiple disabilities
Two or more disabilities present, each requiring specially designed instruction

Orthopedic impairment
Impairments affecting muscles, joints or bones due to disease, disorder or permanent injury

Specific learning disability
A disorder affecting the ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations

Traumatic brain injury
An injury to the brain that occurs after birth and causes significant physical, cognitive and/or social/emotional delays

Visual impairment/blindness
Significant problems with vision even with correction

How can I access services for my child?
If you have a concern about your child, provide a written request to the school psychologist, counselor or principal to have him or her evaluated for possible special education services. This will start the process.

If a student is found to be eligible for special education services, a conference will be scheduled to discuss the evaluation results and plan an IEP specifically designed for the student.

To request home/hospital tutoring for a student who, due to illness or injury, will be out of school and under a doctor’s care for a minimum of four weeks, please contact the special services department.

My child is new to the district and received special education services at his or her former school. How do I enroll my child when we move into your district?
To enroll your child, start at your neighborhood school. Be sure to let the staff know that your child received or is currently receiving special education services at his/her former school. The staff will ask some questions to make sure your child is placed in a program that is appropriate. They also may direct you to contact someone at the district office. If you have copies of your child’s most recent IEP and special education records, please bring them with you when you enroll him or her. The information these documents contain makes it easier to place students in appropriate programs.

Can a student in a private school access Vancouver Public Schools’ special education services?
Students who reside in Vancouver Public Schools’ boundaries but attend a private school can be referred for services. Parents must contact the district’s special services department to request, in writing, an evaluation for possible special education services.

American Sign Language request
Please fill out the form and return it to the special services department.

Transportation is provided as part of the special education services potentially available to students.

The IEP team determines the need for special transportation on an individual basis. Transportation is most often provided for students who are in specialized programs.

Special education students who ride the bus are transported with special education peers.

A guardian or established emergency contact person must meet special education students at their bus stop. Emergency contact people should present photo IDs to receive the student.

For this reason, it is important that contact information for guardians and emergency contact people is kept up to date. If you have recently changed your phone number(s), or have questions about transportation, please contact the transportation department.

How does a student exit out of Special Education Services?
Exiting special services requires the student’s IEP team to meet to review the student’s progress.

  • It may be necessary to conduct a full or partial re-evaluation to determine next steps.
  • The student may graduate and/or reach the age of 21.
  • The parent may revoke permission to continue in special education.

Special education records include IEPs, evaluations and testing results.

Current VPS students’ records may be obtained at their schools by contacting the school psychologist.

Former students’ records can be obtained by:

    1. Emailing Lorie Whitmore. Records will be emailed after verifying your identity.
    2. Filling out the following form:
      Request to release information (PDF)
      Request to release information in Spanish (PDF)
      Request to release information in Russian (PDF)
    3. Fax it to 360-313-4891. Please include a return fax number or current mailing address.

Questions? Call 360-313-4893.

Please note:

  • The processing time is usually three to five business days. Emailed requests generally can be processed more quickly.
  • Records cannot be picked up at our facility. They can, however, be sent to the district office at 2901 Falk Rd. for pickup.
  • If you are over 18, your records cannot be released to your parent(s), unless the parent has full legal guardianship. You must request and sign for the records.
  • Records that are older than six years are not available. State law does not require districts to retain records for more than six years.
  • If you are applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits, you do not need to provide a copy of your records to the Social Security Administration; they will request the records by an official form.