Manhattan School District #114
Renee Karalus, Director Of Special Education
WELCOME! I am thrilled and honored to serve as Director of Special Education for Manhattan School District #114. My passion has always been in serving students, parents and community members in the special education arena, and ensuring that students' individual needs are identified and supported.
Through collaboration with families, schools, students and community partners, an array of comprehensive services are coordinated to support the academic, social-emotional and behavioral success for every child. Manhattan School District #114 provides appropriate and effective educational programs for students with disabilities. A student may be served within a district level program or in a program provided through our collaboration with Lincoln-Way Area Special Education District #843 or neighboring school districts.
Our students are educated in a school community where everyone belongs and is accepted. Every attempt is made to educate students with special education needs in the least restrictive environment. Our primary goal is to integrate students into general education classes; to this end, we make modifications and utilize supplementary aids and services to foster success. The purpose of individual instruction is to help fill the gaps and to provide a level of support needed so that each student can be successful in the educational environment.
By providing positive learning experiences that facilitate success for students in special education through high-quality instruction, as well as collaboration with parents, students, schools, and the community, students will focus on their positive attributes and recognize their individual strengths and achievements to promote their future success.
We are committed to providing a caring community of dedicated staff that promotes parental involvement in meeting the diverse academic, emotional, and social needs of all of our students in a respectful and positive environment. Along with this, I support an Open Door Policy to encourage open communication, feedback, and discussion about any matter of importance. I feel this is essential and important in supporting any student. My door is always open!
Special Education Philosophical Beliefs
- The term learning applies not only to an academic education, but is equally important in terms of social, emotional and behavioral areas as well. By accepting the challenge of educating exceptional students, educators will not only help them to develop their minds in terms of education, they will help them develop tools for overcoming difficulties in all areas of their disability.
- Evaluations of student abilities and disabilities will be based on non-discriminate measures along with the review of data collected in Response to Intervention (RtI) efforts. Educators must be conscientious of each student's unique individual circumstance.
- A child’s disability will be addressed with knowledge and strategy. Different disabilities will be accommodated by implementing IEPs specifically and individually designed to meet each student's goals. Special education teams will actively pursue the means necessary to obtain the appropriate education for each child in the area of specialized assistance.
- Students will receive instruction inclusively to the extent that is feasible. Social interaction will be encouraged between all students, and teaching methods that incorporate inclusion methods will be utilized. Being cognizant of students’ needs for specialized individual education and working to provide the greatest balance possible between providing for these needs while including each student successfully within the general education environment is the goal.
- Confidentiality rights of special education students are highly respected. This includes being respectful of students’ emotional needs and of their privacy. Parental involvement is encouraged and includes actively seeking parental input and permission when a disability requires individualized education.
- Each IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team member is encouraged to convey their observations, evaluations and insight to parents, students and other special education professionals in an effort to facilitate a beneficial learning environment for each student. Success is greater achieved with collaboration, than individually.
Manhattan School District #114 and the Special Education Department wish to clarify and highlight how special education and regular education intersect within the general education curriculum. Regular education teachers are viewed, in both federal and state laws as "experts" in the general education curriculum. Regular education teachers are expected to assist IEP teams in understanding the intricacies of that curriculum. Special education teachers are viewed as the “experts” in providing adaptations, differentiating instruction, and modifying curriculum and assignments and providing individualized support that allows students to access the general education curriculum meaningfully, and produce work that indicates this. These experts may also work with an alternate curriculum that parallels the general education curriculum. It is imperative that all educators participate in the IEP process and then comply with the provisions of a student’s IEP. An IEP is a legally binding document that the school district, the special education teacher, and the regular education teacher are mandated to comply with.
The IEP team determines the needs of the student, what goals are needed to meet those needs, and the level of support required to support the student with these needs. The level of support is reflected in the number of minutes and/or location of the service. These decisions determine that particular child's least restrictive environment.
Some examples of the least restrictive environment include:
- A general education classroom with the general education curriculum, with or without supplementary aids and services;
- A general education classroom with a modified curriculum for some or all of the classes;
- A pull-out special education classroom with modified curriculum for part of the day with the remainder of the day being spent in the regular classroom or in activities with students who do not have disabilities;
"Location" is the type of environment that is the appropriate place for the provision of special education and related services (e.g., a regular education classroom, a resource room). The decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis. To the maximum extent appropriate, the child must participate with non-disabled peers.
IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) presumes that the first location considered for each child with a disability is the general education classroom (in the school that the student would attend if not disabled), with appropriate supplementary aids and services to facilitate the provision of special education in that location.
The goal is to maintain a student in the general education environment utilizing supplemental aides and services. However, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team may determine an alternative educational setting. "Supplementary aids and services" means aids, services, and other supports that are provided in general education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate. Some accommodations/modifications that special education teachers have used are as simple as a pencil grip or preferred seating or as complex as a modified curriculum or assignments.
Mrs. Renee Karalus
Director of Special Education