VBCPS - Charting the Course
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Dr. Heather Allen
Date: 09/21/16 Phone: 757.263.1797
News Release No. 012 Fax: 757.263.1010
Email: heather.allen@vbschools.com

Parent and staff input will help shape division's
five-year plan for special education services

In an effort to support every child’s success every day, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) is developing a five-year plan for how special education services will be delivered and supported in its 86 schools and centers. As part of that process, the division commissioned a third-party study that included a review of existing programs, school visits, interviews and a survey which allowed parents, teachers, counselors, staff specialists and administrators to give feedback.

“As we develop a five-year plan, it is important for us to know how effectively we are serving students with disabilities,” said Superintendent Aaron Spence. “We’re taking a hard look at our existing data, but we also need to know what parents and staff see as the strengths of our programs and what challenges or gaps in service they encounter during a school year. We need to have a clear picture of where we are in order to develop a plan to get us to where we want to be.”

The study was conducted in the context of a continuous improvement model. It acknowledges that VBCPS - like all school divisions - has opportunities for improvement which are built upon the school division’s current strengths, history, structure and resources.

The study’s findings underscored the fact that special education inclusion teachers and self-contained teachers are strongly committed to ensuring their students receive high-quality instruction, no matter the setting. The division also is commended for its systematic approach to management of programs for exceptional children and for proactively developing long-range plans for instructional programs and supports to improve student achievement and narrow achievement gaps.

Among the recommendations for strengthening special education services are the expansion of professional development opportunities and collaborative planning time for special education and general education teachers; the refinement of the division’s rigorous, research-based instructional plan to purposefully integrate the needs of special education students and their teachers; a review of current Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team processes and the examination of staffing positions and responsibilities through the lens of instructional support.

“Much of the work suggested in the audit has already started and will be reflected in our five-year plan,” said Dr. Veleka Gatling, executive director of programs for exceptional children. “Internally, we identified many of the same opportunities to enhance the services we are providing our students as well as the training and resources we provide their teachers and schools.”

Development of the five-year plan will be led by the Dr. Gatling and the Office of Programs for Exceptional Children. The School Board will receive updates throughout the process beginning with the informational workshop provided at its Sept. 20 meeting. A copy of the executive summary provided to the Board is available on vbschools.com. In addition, the Board receives a Special Education plan which is updated annually in accordance with Virginia State Code.


Department of Media and Communications, vbcpsweb@vbschools.com

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