Special Education and Pupil Services

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Special Education and Pupil Services

 

Dr. Ashlea Rineer-Hershey 
Director of Special Education 

Dr. Rineer-Hershey has 15 years of experience working in public schools and state universities in Pennsylvania. Her career began in Lancaster, PA as a special education teacher working with students with learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, and Autism. After leaving the K-12 classroom as a teacher, she has worked in districts across the state as a consultant with the Technical Training and Assistance Network for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (a division of PDE) as well as the Keystone Educational Consulting group.  In these roles, Dr. Rineer-Hershey worked with and trained paraprofessionals, teachers, and administrators from more than 25 districts on topics related to the state initiative's on Inclusive Practices, MTSS and Autism. She has also spent the past 9 years teaching students at the undergraduate and graduate level in teacher education programs at California University of PA, Waynesburg University and Slippery Rock University. 

WHAT IS SPECIAL EDUCATION?

Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. It is provided at no cost to the parents and it is provided in the least restrictive environment that can meet the individual student's needs. Prior to special education, the school district attempts to meet the student's needs and address deficits through interventions and accommodations provided in the regular education classroom.
 
In order to qualify for special education, a student must meet two criteria.
  1. The student must meet the criteria for one or more of the 13 disability categories defined by federal law.
  2. The student must show a need for special education services. 
Determining whether or not a student meets these two criteria occurs through a comprehensive evaluation of the student by a multidisciplinary team. Data collected includes input from parents, teachers, and other school staff who interact with the student. It includes observations of the student and rating scales, when necessary. These rating scales may explore behavior, emotional/mental health, adaptive behavior, and executive functioning. Typically, a school psychologist completes individual cognitive and academic achievement testing, as well. Finally, other professionals' expertise may be necessary to explore vision, hearing, or motor concerns. All of this information is documented and interpreted in an evaluation report (ER), which is provided to parents. Based on data collected, a determination is made regarding whether or not the student meets the two criteria necessary to receive special education services. 
 
If the student qualifies for special education services, a meeting will be held to develop the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The parent is a member of the IEP team and is involved in all decisions regarding the child's education. The parent must provide signed consent before the district has permission to implement the IEP. Furthermore, once a student begins receiving special education, no changes to the student's educational placement can be made without signed parental consent. Consent for special education services, changes in services, or dismissal from services is given on a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice (NOREP) form. 
Contacts:
 
Dr. Ashlea Rineer-Hershey
Director of Special Education & Pupil Services
Keystone Educational Consulting Group
rineerhersheya@pbsd.net
(412) 798-6368

Mrs. Kelly Gibson
School Psychologist (Center, Holiday Park, Plum High School)
gibsonk@pbsd.net
412-798-6364

Mrs. Dana Iera
School Psychologist (Pivik, O'Block Junior High, Plum High School)
Homeless/Foster Liaison
ierad@pbsd.net 
412-798-6358

Mrs. Tracey Liberatore
Administrative Assistant
liberatoret@pbsd.net
412-798-6352

Special Education Department Fax
412-798-6363
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