The mission of the Las Cruces Public Schools Special Education Department is to provide resources that support students with special needs to become productive members of society.
The Special Education Department’s role is to support parents, teachers, and principals in the location, identification, and provision of educational services for exceptional students in the Las Cruces School District. The department coordinates special education evaluations, placements in instructional programs, and support services throughout the district and maintains compliance with state and federal laws. These services are provided in a variety of settings ranging from itinerant teachers and regular classroom placement to small self-contained classrooms and homebound services.
The Special Education Office coordinates curriculum development, assistive technology evaluation and services, needs assessment, transportation, planning and development, data collection and reporting, placement of student teachers, practicum students and interns, and the selection and evaluation of Special Education staff throughout the district.
Referral, Evaluation and Placement
The needs of children are often identified and met by the counselor, principal and parent without special education services. The teacher along with the parent and Student Assistance Team (SAT) should explore all pre-referral intervention strategies prior to referring a student for evaluation. The SAT at each school building facilitates teacher input into each evaluation and promotes communication and coordination of the evaluation process.
Parents are encouraged to refer their children to their building level SAT.
Students will be evaluated by an educational diagnostician, speech language pathologist, nurse, assistive technologist, and others as needed including occupational and physical therapists and psychologists and adapted physical education staff. When all evaluations are completed, an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) Committee meeting is conducted at the school building to determine the student’s eligibility and need for program placement. Parent involvement is mandatory. The reason(s) for referral, types of tests to be administered, and the possible program placement recommendation must be disclosed to the parent when their consent is obtained. The educational diagnostician assigned to your building can answer any questions you have regarding the referral, evaluation, and placement process.
Special Education Request for Independent Evaluation
Las Cruces Public Schools adheres to federal and state laws and regulations as they pertain to the parent’s right to obtain an independent educational evaluation. Independent evaluations will be considered in any decision made with respect to a free and appropriate public education to the student.
Whenever an independent evaluation is obtained at the district’s expense, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same as the criteria used by the district when it initiates an evaluation.
Special Education Programs
The district provides special education services to approximately 5400 exceptional students through a continuum of placement options. Itinerant teachers serve students that require very few changes in regular classroom instruction; special education staff team with classroom teachers providing integrated services in addition to pull-out. Self-contained staff provide self-contained or integrated classroom services for students with moderate and severe needs.
Advanced Educational Services provides supplemental and accelerated instructional programming for students, grades K-12, whose abilities in one or more instructional areas go beyond that which can be met successfully within the student’s grade level program.
The Early Childhood Developmentally Delayed Program offers services to three and four year old children who are experiencing developmental delays in the areas of language, social, motor, or cognitive ability or who are at-risk due to medical conditions as determined by Special Education standards. Instruction is provided in an integrated model. It is a family oriented program offering social services, family counseling and parental involvement.
The district also identifies and services special needs students attending private and parochial schools in accordance with PL 94-142, Part B, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Special needs students may need related services to benefit from the special education being provided to them. The need for services such as audiology, assistive technology, occupational and physical therapy, social work services, adapted physical education, speech/language therapy, psychological services and sign language interpreters is determined at the IEP Team meeting.