Student Services

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Dr. Dianne Thomas

Director of Special Education/Pupil Services

Contact @
814-542-2518 Ext. 162

Annual Public Notice

Click the link below for Document

Table of Content

The Mount Union Area School District’s Student Services Department is committed to providing for the health, safety, and welfare of all students. We have adopted a strategic plan that raises the bar for student achievement within a safe learning environment and prepares each child to be successful as global citizens in the 21st Century. In doing this, it is imperative that any barriers to student learning also be addressed.

Child Find

The Mount Union Area School District and the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit provide special education and related services to resident children with disabilities who are ages three through twenty-one.

The purpose of this notice is to describe
(1) the types of disabilities that might qualify the child for such programs and services,
(2) the special education programs and related services that are available,
(3) the process by which the District screens and evaluates such students to determine
eligibility, and
(4) the special rights that pertain to such children and their parents or legal guardians.

School Counselors

Professional school counselors are certified educators with a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling. School counselors are uniquely qualified to address all students’ academic, personal/social and career development needs by designing, implementing, evaluating and enhancing a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes and enhances student success

School Psychologist

Mount Union Area School District’s school psychologist helps children and youth succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. The school psychologist collaborates with administrators, educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students that strengthen connections between home and school.

School Nurses/ Health Services

Mount Union Area School District’s School Nurses believe that the health of a child has a direct effect on his/ her ability to fully access his/ her educational opportunities.

Special Education

Special education is planned instruction specifically designed to address the educational and related developmental needs of children with disabilities. This includes Early Intervention Services for pre-school for students starting at age three and services for school age children in grades K-12. Our local TIU 11 serves the needs of our Early Intervention population.

For students who are eligible (meet eligibility criteria) students will receive an Individual Education Plan (IEP), instruction is based on the core (district) curriculum. The IEP team documents current education abilities, areas of needs and outlines goals, accommodations/ adaptations or modifications and teaching strategies, as well as other support systems that may help the student to access the general education curriculum.

Protected Handicapped Services

In compliance with state and federal law, the Mount Union Area School District provides to each protected handicapped student without discrimination or cost to the student or family, those related aids, services or accommodations which are needed to provide an equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student’s abilities. In order to qualify as a protected handicapped student, the child must be of school age with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program. These services and protections for “protected handicapped students” are distinct from those applicable to all eligible or exceptional students enrolled (or seeking enrollment) in special education programs.


The Mount Union Area School District provides gifted educational opportunities for qualifying students. Students who are evaluated and identified as gifted, according to Pennsylvania Chapter 16 Regulations, may require instruction and support that is matched to their unique abilities and needs. Specially designed instruction for gifted students is individualized and may take various forms both within and outside of the regular classroom. Through collaboration between the school, the parents, and the child, the district strives to develop instruction that will challenge and enrich all learners at an appropriate level.

English as a Second Language

The Mount Union Area School District is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to every student. The English as a Second Language (ESL) program is designed to accelerate English acquisition for students whose first language is not English and to further assist them in becoming successful learners in the regular classroom. The Mount Union Area School District will provide comprehensive services to ESL learners within the district to improve and support transition from ESL classes to mainstream classes. We will do this by providing a learning environment in which children gain some degree of growth in the areas of reading, writing, listening, and speaking through a school-wide team effort, thereby establishing a successful learning environment for all ESL students.

Homeless Services

The Mount Union Area School District’s Homeless Children and Youth liaison works to identify students experiencing homelessness, and implements strategies to address barriers to enrollment, attendance, and participation in school activities. Students experiencing homelessness are entitled under law to: An education on an equal basis with the other children;
Continue to attend their home school of origin
Immediate enrollment, even if they lack records
Special assistance from the Mount Union Area School District Homeless Liaison

Homebound Instruction

A school district, area vocational technical school, charter school, independent school, private school or non-public school may temporarily excuse a student from compulsory attendance on account of illness or other urgent reasons and provide that student homebound instruction while he or she is excused from school. Regulations require that the term “urgent reasons” be strictly construed not to permit irregular attendance at school. Any excusal from compulsory attendance must be reevaluated, at minimum, every three months. A school district may have a policy that requires more frequent evaluations. See 22 Pa Code § 11.25

In the event your child needs to be out of school due to illness or physical incapacitation for an extended period [4 weeks per school district policy]; arrangements may be made for homebound instruction at no expense to the parents. Instructors will be provided for only those subjects required for graduation and/or promotion. Homebound instruction is only provided on the favorable recommendation of the attending physician. Students requesting homebound instruction for more than four consecutive weeks may be required to submit additional information from the attending physician. The maximum hours of homebound instruction are 3-5 hours/week.

Instruction Conducted in the Home

For special education students for whom an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) team determines that the instruction of the student is to be conducted in the home; students are counted in both the school membership and school attendance; this is not homebound instruction.

Contact Information

Mrs. Dianne Thomas, Director of Special Education/Pupil Services
706 N Shaver Street
Mount Union, PA 17066
814-542-2518 Ext 162

Mrs. Katrina Danley, Special Education Secretary
706 N Shaver Street
Mount Union, PA 17066
814-542-2518 Ext 160


Assistive Technology

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) requires a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) team to consider whether assistive technology devices and services are needed to meet a student’s educational goals. If the IEP team determines that a student needs assistive technology devices or services to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), it is the district’s responsibility to ensure that they are available for the student.
Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a student with a disability.  An assistive technology service is any service that directly assists a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device in the student’s customary environment. 
This includes:
The evaluation of the needs of the student, including a functional evaluation of an assistive technology device in the student’s customary environment.
Purchasing, leasing or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by a student.
Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices.
Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs.
Assistive technology training and technical assistance for an individual with a disability, or where appropriate, the family of an individual with disabilities.
Training or technical assistance for professionals, employers, or other individuals who provide services to employ or otherwise are substantially involved in the major life functions of an individual with disabilities.
The district’s director of special education and IEP team works with TIU 11 consultants and parents to determine the educational necessity of assistive technology and appropriate solutions to meet a student’s needs in the areas of writing, reading, math, adapted environmental controls, activities of daily living, mobility and communication. We are fortunate to live in an age with so many useful tools available to help people with learning differences. However, choosing the best technology for a student requires some time and patience. The right product depends upon the individual student, the setting in which it will be used and the tasks to be accomplished. Assistive technology cannot fix or eliminate learning difficulties; however, by learning to capitalize on strengths and bypass weaknesses, individuals with learning differences can experience success in their educational settings.
Assistive technology includes, but is not limited to:
Adaptive Keyboards
These are alternative keyboards that allow students who experience difficulty with conventional keyboard configurations to use computers. These products are available in different sizes and layouts. They can often be purchased with a key guard to prevent accidental key activation.
Adaptive Pointing Devices
Adapted mice, track balls, and joysticks represent input devices that require two actions: cursor movement and a click. Some products use a separate switch to act as the click to prevent accidental activation. In some products, a pause can be used in place of a click. Additional input devices include the use of a camera to track the user’s eye movements or to track a specific target. Touch screens can also replace the mouse for cursor control.
Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)
AACs are any device, system or method that improves the ability of a student with communication impairment to communicate effectively.
Computer Access
This means the ability to operate a computer by using a standard keyboard or an adapted input method.
Digitized Speech
This is digitally stored human voices speaking actual words and sentences.
Direct Selection
This is an access method in which the user indicates choices and makes selections by pointing with a body part or a technology tool. 
Dynamic Display Scanning
A communication aid or computer displays that changes after each selection and branches to additional communication selections.
Environmental Control Unit
These are hardware and software systems that allow meaningful and purposeful interaction with the environment. These devices may include switch-activated toys and remote devices that control lights, small and large appliances, open windows and doors, etc.
On Screen Keyboards
A virtual or onscreen keyboard can provide text entry access for students with motor impairment. The keyboard displayed on the computer screen can be accessed using a pointing device. Therefore, a standard mouse or any alternative-pointing device can be used to make text selections right on the screen.
Portable Word Processor
These lightweight, inexpensive devices can be easily taken from class-to-class to provide access to word processing without a computer. Text can be downloaded to a computer or printed with a single cable. Some products also include organizational features such as those in personal digital assistants (PDAs).
Scanning is an indirect access method used with communication devices or computer access. Choices are highlighted systematically and the student uses a switch to make selections as the highlighter moves from symbol to symbol.
Screen Readers
Academic screen readers were specifically designed for students with reading and writing difficulties, especially dyslexia. Generally, they provide speech synthesis, text entry, spell check, word prediction, highlighting and note taking capabilities. Screen readers may also be used to provide computer access for visual impairment.
Synthesized Speech
Speech generated by a computer that sounds similar to the human voice. 
Talking Word Processors
Talking Word Processors use text-to-speech technology to provide speech feedback to help students to select words or sentences to be read to them. It allows them to read teacher-prepared material or to check their own compositions.
Voice Recognition
Voice recognition allows the use of a student’s voice as an input device. Voice recognition may be used to dictate text into the computer or to give commands to the computer (such as opening application programs, pulling down menus, or saving work). 
Mrs. Dianne Thomas, Director of Special Education/Pupil Services
(814) 542-2518, Ext. 162
Mrs. Sandi Dinardi, Director of Special Education
Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11

Behavioral Health

Phone: 814-542-2518, Ext. 162
Fax: 814-542-2964
Counseling Support
Guidance Counseling (individual/group)
CASSP Coordination
Professional Development
Cross Systems Support
UCBH – Universal Community Behavioral Health
Sam Inc., Huntingdon/Mifflin County
YAP—Youth Advocate Program
NHS—Northwestern Human Services
School Linked Behavioral Health Services
Consultation & Education (C&E)
Student Assistance Specialist (SAP)
On-site Behavioral Health Programs
SBBH – School Based Behavioral Health
Emotional Support classes
Career Cruising
Classroom Management
School Wide Effective Behavior Supports
Olweus Bullying Prevention
Attendance guidelines/ Policy/Procedures
Real Time Attendance Reporting
Attendance guidelines, policies and procedures
Training and Technical Support
TEP Truancy Elimination Planning
Real Time Reporting on Attendance and Truancy Data
High School Supports
Check and Connect
Credit Recovery
Virtual Programming
Work Experience
Alternative School Curriculum Alignment and Articulation

Dispute Resolution

While both staff and parents approach program development for students in special education programs with their best interests in mind, sometimes differences of opinion may occur. Parents who have questions or concerns about their student should take their concerns first to the special education teacher, general education teacher and/or school counselor who work with their student. If the questions or concerns are not answered at that level, parents have a series of people to whom they can go for help. The following list shows who to contact, and in which order, when you have questions or concerns regarding your student.
Who to contact when you have questions or concerns:
Start with the special education teacher, general education teacher, and / or school counselor
If concerns are not met, contact the school principal 
If concerns are not met, contact the Director of Special Education, Mrs. Dianne Thomas @ 814-542-2518 Ext. 162
If concerns are not met, contact the Superintendent, Dr. Brett Gilliland @ 814-542-2518, Ext. 191
Additional Dispute Support
The Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR), a Pennsylvania Department of Education funded project, is in the process of distributing information regarding its services, available at no cost, for parents and guardians of children with disabilities and educational agencies that serve them.
We are requesting your assistance with sharing the following ODR information with your staff and constituents by adding the phone numbers and website information shown below to school district, intermediate unit, and parent group communications items such as newsletters, activity calendars, and website links.
ConsultLine is a toll-free parent helpline for special education questions and concerns. Advisors will answer questions and provide information about the special education process and the laws governing such programs for parents of children with disabilities and educational agencies that serve them.
1-800-879-2301 (Toll-free in Pennsylvania)
717-541-4960 ext. 3332 (Outside Pennsylvania)
Office for Dispute Resolution
The Office for Dispute Resolution provides the resources for parents and educational agencies to resolve disputes concerning the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of a free appropriate public education for students with disabilities, students who are gifted and children with disabilities served by the early intervention process. ODR provides individualized education program (IEP) facilitation, mediation, dispute resolution skills training, due process and appeals panel process, and a speakers’ bureau.
Office for Dispute Resolution


Students whose first language is not English may be eligible for English as a Second Language instruction (ESL) as an English language learner (ELL). Students suspected of needing ESL support are screened upon enrollment and parents whose children qualify for services are notified, in a language they understand, of assessment results including their English language proficiency level (entering, beginning, developing, expanding, or bridging).
Students are exited from ESL instruction when the student’s academic records indicate that the student has met Pennsylvania’s criteria for exiting the ESL program.
If you have concerns regarding your child’s ESL services, please contact your child’s school. If you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Dianne Thomas, Director of Special Education/Pupil Services @ 814-542-2518 Ext. 162.
Basic Education Circulars
Home Language Survey
PA Core Standards
PA Language Standards
State Exit Criteria

Extended School Year

To prevent regression and lack of adequate recoupment, the Mount Union Area School District in partnership with Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 offers an Extended School Year (ESY) program which will serve qualifying special education students after the bell rings on the last day of school. This will avoid an interruption in their education, loss of basic skills and regression of progress made on Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals.  Students will continue to learn math, reading, and specialized skills through speech/language therapy needed to succeed when they return to school in the fall.  The program will also focus on other areas including socialization, vocational instruction and community awareness. 
The ESY program is supervised by the TIU 11 and is staffed by certified special education teachers and support staff.  During the school year, IEP teams determine a student’s eligibility through data collection and observation.
Chapter 14 addresses ESY as follows: 
§ 14.132. ESY.

 (a)  In addition to the requirements incorporated by reference in 34 CFR 300.106 (relating to extended school year services), school entities shall use the following standards for determining whether a student with disabilities requires ESY as part of the student’s program:

   (1)  At each IEP meeting for a student with disabilities, the school entity shall determine whether the student is eligible for ESY services and, if so, make subsequent determinations about the services to be provided.

   (2)  In considering whether a student is eligible for ESY services, the IEP team shall consider the following factors; however, no single factor will be considered determinative:
     (i)   Whether the student reverts to a lower level of functioning as evidenced by a measurable decrease in skills or behaviors which occurs as a result of an interruption in educational programming (Regression).

     (ii)   Whether the student has the capacity to recover the skills or behavior patterns in which regression occurred to a level demonstrated prior to the interruption of educational programming (Recoupment).

     (iii)   Whether the student’s difficulties with regression and recoupment make it unlikely that the student will maintain the skills and behaviors relevant to IEP goals and objectives.

     (iv)   The extent to which the student has mastered and consolidated an important skill or behavior at the point when educational programming would be interrupted.

     (v)   The extent to which a skill or behavior is particularly crucial for the student to meet the IEP goals of self-sufficiency and independence from caretakers.

     (vi)   The extent to which successive interruptions in educational programming result in a student’s withdrawal from the learning process.

     (vii)   Whether the student’s disability is severe, such as autism/pervasive developmental disorder, serious emotional disturbance, severe mental retardation, degenerative impairments with mental involvement and severe multiple disabilities.

 (b)  Reliable sources of information regarding a student’s educational needs, propensity to progress, recoupment potential and year-to-year progress may include the following:

   (1)  Progress on goals in consecutive IEPs.

(2)  Progress reports maintained by educators, therapists and others having direct contact with the student before and after interruptions in the education program.

   (3)  Reports by parents of negative changes in adaptive behaviors or in other skill areas.
   (4)  Medical or other agency reports indicating degenerative-type difficulties, which become exacerbated during breaks in educational services.
   (5)  Observations and opinions by educators, parents and others.

   (6)  Results of tests, including criterion-referenced tests, curriculum-based assessments, ecological life skills assessments and other equivalent measures.

 (c)  The need for ESY services will not be based on any of the following:
   (1)  The desire or need for day care or respite care services.
   (2)  The desire or need for a summer recreation program.
   (3)  The desire or need for other programs or services that, while they may provide educational benefit, are not required to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education.

 (d)  Students with severe disabilities such as autism/pervasive developmental disorder, serious emotional disturbance; severe mental retardation; degenerative impairments with mental involvement; and severe multiple disabilities require expeditious determinations of eligibility for ESY services to be provided as follows:
   (1)  Parents of students with severe disabilities shall be notified by the school entity of the annual review meeting to encourage their participation.
   (2)  The IEP review meeting must occur no later than February 28 of each school year for students with severe disabilities.
   (3)  The Notice of Recommended Educational Placement shall be issued to the parent no later than March 31 of the school year for students with severe disabilities.
   (4)  If a student with a severe disability transfers into a school entity after the dates in paragraphs (2) and (3), and the ESY eligibility decision has not been made, the eligibility and program content must be determined at the IEP meeting.

 (e)  School entities shall consider the eligibility for ESY services of all students with disabilities at the IEP meeting. ESY determinations for students other than those described in subsection (d) are not subject to the time lines in subsection (d). However, these determinations shall still be made in a timely manner. If the parents disagree with the school entity’s recommendation on ESY, the parents will be afforded an expedited due process hearing.

   The provisions of this §  14.132 amended under sections 1372 and 2603-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § §  13-1372 and 26-2603-B).

   The provisions of this §  14.132 adopted June 8, 2001, effective June 9, 2001, 31 Pa.B. 3021; amended June 27, 2008, effective July 1, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 3575. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (334875) to (334877).

Cross References
   This section cited in 55 Pa. Code §  3270.4 (relating to definitions); 55 Pa. Code §  3280.4 (relating to definitions); and 55 Pa. Code §  3290.4 (relating to definitions).
-Services Beyond the School year
-Services in PA


Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Doc

Gifted Services

The Mount Union Area School District provides gifted educational opportunities for qualifying students. 
Students who are evaluated and identified as gifted, according to Pennsylvania Chapter 16 Regulations, may require instruction and support that is matched to their unique abilities and needs. Specially designed instruction for gifted students is individualized and may take various forms both within and outside of the regular classroom. Through collaboration between the school, the parents, and the child, the district strives to develop instruction that will challenge and enrich all learners at an appropriate level.
Students may be screened or evaluated and identified as gifted at any time throughout their school career. The process begins with a referral from within the school or a written request from parents and follows with a screening by the school counselor. If students perform well on the screening, they are recommended to the school psychologist for further evaluation under a Gifted Multi-Disciplinary Evaluation (GMDE).
When a student moves into The Mount Union Area School District, the process of identification varies. Gifted Individualized Education Plans (GIEP’s) written by other districts in Pennsylvania will be honored and either implemented or modified as needed to best meet the needs of the student in MUASD.  Students with identification as gifted in another state may need to undergo screening with the school counselor and/or evaluation with the school psychologist and will need to meet the criteria for identification as set by The Mount Union Area School District, in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Chapter16 Regulations.
Once a student is identified as gifted, a GIEP team will be convened to develop an individualized plan to address the student’s needs. The team generally consists of the child’s regular classroom teacher(s), the gifted support teacher, school psychologist, and a building administrator.
Please see contact options below regarding questions about screening, evaluation, eligibility, due process rights, or provision of gifted education services.
Dianne Thomas, Director of Special Education/Pupil Services
814-542-2518 Ext. 162
Mrs. Katrina Danley, Special Education Secretary
706 N Shaver Street
Mount Union, PA 17066
814-542-2518 Ext 160

Information and Resources for our Gifted Program:
Public Notice
National Association for Gifted
Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education
Staffing Policy
Special Education

Hearing Aide Maintenance

Hearing Aid Usage

Hearing aids function is screened by the teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Testing schedule is determined by age of student. Students in younger grades require more assistance with maintaining function. Typical older students are able to maintain hearing aids on their own, changing batteries as needed or letting parents or teacher know if they are not working properly. For any student that can not maintain their equipment on their own, frequent screenings will be done by teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing or a trained designated school employee.

Function Screening

a. Ling Test – When meeting with the teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing, the Ling 7 Sound test is used to screen if the hearing aids are working. Change in typical response would require further testing to see if the hearing aids are not functioning properly.

b. Listening Stethoscope – If a student’s hearing aid appears not to be functioning properly, the teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing will listen to the hearing aids using a listening stethoscope. If it is not working, batteries will be tested and replaced as necessary. If batteries are not the issue, parents will be contacted. For students at the elementary school, the school nurse can also listen to hearing aids and check batteries if the teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing is not in the building.

Hearing aid batteries

a. Batteries for personal hearing aids will be sent in by the parents. Batteries for students at the elementary and middle school level will be kept in the nurse’s office. Batteries for high school students can be kept in the nurse’s office if the student’s would like them to be. Extra batteries will be on hand in the nurse’s office in case of emergency.

b. Batteries for school bought equipment will be kept for the student use in a convenient location according to the need. Batteries can be stored in teacher classrooms or with the nurse so that the student has easy access to them.

For additional information:
Mrs. Dianne Thomas, Director of Special Education/Pupil Services
Mount Union Area School District
814-542-2518 Ext. 162

Independent Educational Evaluation Procedures

According to Part 300 of the Federal Regulations § 300.502 parents may obtain an
independent educational evaluation at the school district’s expense if they disagree with
the evaluation completed by the school district. An Independent Educational Evaluation
(IEE) is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not an employee of the
Mount Union Area School District. A request for an IEE must be made in writing to the
Director of Special Education/Pupil Services within one year of the date on the District’s
evaluation report.

Homeless Ed.

One of the main goals of the Mount Union Area School District’s Homeless Program is to ensure each student experiencing homelessness has a normalized school experience.  The Homeless Liaison helps to ensure a child’s ability to enroll in school. Further, the Liaison will work with school district personnel to ensure enrollment, transportation, access to academics, food, and materials/supplies do not become barriers that would interrupt their educational experience.

On July 22, 1987, the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act became public law. This was the first comprehensive federal law dealing with the problems of homelessness in America.  Included in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, the law is now referred to as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001.

As a first step in 1988, the Pennsylvania Department of Education established the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program.  This program has been responsible for assessing Pennsylvania’s homeless children population, developing the appropriate responses, and establishing McKinney-Vento Homeless sites.

Some of the main objectives of the Mount Union Area School District are to increase awareness about the needs of children experiencing homelessness, reveal and overcome possible educational barriers, explain current legislation and policies, and provide help/support to families.

The District Homeless Liaison can support and help students experiencing homeless situations in many ways.  Mount Union’s Homeless Liaison is Dr. Dianne Thomas, Ed.D., Director of Special Education/Student Services.
The Liaison may assist families with the following:
ü  Make sure students are enrolled in school immediately, even if they do not have the papers they would normally need.
ü  Help families and youth get immunizations, immunization records or other medical records, if a student needs them.
ü  Tell parents and youth about all transportation services and help set up transportation.
ü  Make sure students get all the school services they need.
ü  Tell parents and guardians about all the programs and services the school has for their children.
If you are living in any of the following situations:
A Shelter
A Motel
A vehicle
Living with others because you can’t afford or find housing
In inadequate conditions (lack of heat, water etc)

We may be able to help you:
Enroll in school
Remain in your school if you move to another area
With transportation to and from school
Receive free or reduced cost school meals
Social referrals
Other services

Pennsylvania Department of Education

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)

Dr. Dianne Thomas, Ed.D.,
Director of Special Education/Student Services+ Homeless Liaison
706 N Shaver Street
Mount Union, PA  17066
814-542-2518 Ext. 162

Mrs. Katrina Danley, Special Education Secretary
706 N Shaver Street
Mount Union, PA 17066
814-542-2518 Ext 160

Intensive Interagency Approach

STANDARD: The Local Education Agency (LEA) identifies, reports, and provides for the provision of FAPE (free appropriate public education) for all students with disabilities including those students needing intensive interagency approaches. (34CFR 300.550(b)(1) and (2) regarding LRE.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has identified an Intensive Interagency Approach, formally Cordero Class Members for Local Education Agencies (LEA’s) throughout Pennsylvania. The Intensive Interagency Approach requires the LEA to engage other child service systems (e.g. mental health, the office of intellectual disabilities, child protective services, juvenile probation, and drug/alcohol treatment services etc.) for difficult to place students.

Interagency Coordination should be occurring in every school within the Mount Union Area School District, when a child has a need that extends beyond any one domain: education, medical health, behavioral health, social services, child protective services, legal, juvenile justice or child advocate, etc.
Area Agencies
Student Interagency information Form

Some of the Mount Union Area School District’s child service system partners include:

  • After School Programs
  • Public Library
  • Universal Community Behavioral Health—Outpatient Therapy, Med Clinic, Blended Case Management
  • CBH—TSS Service. Mobile Therapy Behavior Specialists
  • Northwestern Human Services—TSS Services, Mobile Therapy, Behavior Specialists, Family Based Services, Foster Care
  • YAP—TSS Services, Mobile Therapy, Family Supper Services (referred thru Children Services)
  • School/Community Based Mental Health Program
  • Family Court of Huntingdon County
  • Sam, Inc. Mifflin/Huntingdon County
  • Juniata River Center
  • Hospitals,
  •  Homeless Shelters,
  • Group Homes,
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs,
  • Residential Treatment Facilities (RTF’s),
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR),
  • Housing Authority,
  • Child Advocacy Organizations,
  • Communities of Faith,
  • Legislators,
  • Law Enforcement,
  • Mayor’s Office
  • Parents/Guardians

Least Restrictive Environment

The Mount Union Area School District and the Special Education Department’s Vision on Inclusive Practices includes…

The Special Education Department’s vision on inclusive practices is in line with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Gaskin Settlement Agreement- it is a strength-based model focused on what the child can do, as well as addressing the areas of need within the IEP. It is deeply rooted in maximizing a child’s potential and recognizing that if the child did not have a disability, he or she would be educated in the general education classroom setting.

Each child with special needs is unique, as are their needs. This is why they have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) – so that their supports and services can be tailored to fit their needs. Inclusion is about each and every child. It is about how we can help each child reach his or her full potential. We start the conversation about inclusion in the general education setting first at the IEP meeting, not only because it is being asked of us to do so in the law, but because it is the right place to start. This does not mean that all students will be fully educated in the general education setting; it simply means that we adjust from there and tailor it to what that child needs.

MUASD and Special Education Department’s Goals of Inclusive Practices:
– The goal of providing an inclusive education, to the maximum extent appropriate, for students with disabilities is giving every child the help that they need to learn.
– It is providing an educational opportunity, to the maximum extent appropriate, for all students, especially students with special needs, that is focused on providing that educational experience within the general education classroom setting first, which would be the same class they would be in if they did not have a disability.
– To design supports and services that is portable and may be provided in a wide variety of locations as decided by the child’s IEP team.
– To promote the strength-based model by focusing on what the child can do, as well as addressing the areas of need within the IEP.

LRE and Gaskin
10 about Gaskin
Model on inclusive Practices

School Psychologist

The Mount Union Area District’s school psychology department guided by our belief that all children can learn and deserve to be emotionally safe; help students achieve academically, emotionally, socially, and behaviorally. 
As a leader, the school psychologist collaborates with educators, parents, and other professionals, to create safe and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school and the community for all students. The school psychologist is concerned with the emotional status of the student, and how both internal and external factors may affect behavior and performance in school. In addition, the school psychologist can support administrators and buildings in promoting a positive school culture and climate.  The School Psychologist has expertise in determining a child’s level of cognitive and conceptual development. 
School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students that strengthen connections between home and school.
School psychologists are highly trained in both psychology and education. They must complete a minimum of a post-Master’s degree program that includes a year-long internship and emphasizes preparation in mental health, child development, school organization, learning styles and processes, behavior, motivation, and effective teaching.
School psychologists must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which they work.

Most school psychologists provide the following services:
Collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to find effective solutions to learning and behavior problems.
Help others understand child development and how it affects learning and behavior.
Strengthen working relationships between teachers, parents, and service providers in the community.
Evaluate eligibility for special services.
Assess academic skills and aptitude for learning.
Determine social-emotional development and mental health status.
Evaluate learning environments.
Provide psychological counseling to help resolve interpersonal or family problems that interfere with school performance.
Work directly with children and their families to help resolve problems in adjustment and learning.
Provide training in social skills and anger management.
Help families and schools manage crises such as death, illness, or community trauma.
Design programs for children at risk of failing at school.
Promote tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity within the school community.
Develop programs to make schools safer and more effective learning environments.
Collaborate with school staff and community agencies to provide services directed at improving psychological and physical health.
Develop partnerships with parents and teachers to promote healthy school environments.
Research and Planning: 
Evaluate the effectiveness of academic and behavior management programs.
Identify and implement programs and strategies to improve schools.
Use evidence-based research to develop and/or recommend effective interventions
The school psychologist at the Mount Union Area School District has involvement in the above functions, but she has two main job duties. 
First, she consults with parents and teachers about a student’s educational progress through the Child Staffing/Study Team and Student Assistance Team models. 
Second, she assess students to determine if they a) have disabilities and are in need of special education, b) have disabilities and are in need of a 504 plan, and c) are mentally gifted and in need of gifted support services.  Our school psychologists also provide short-term direct intervention to students in crisis situations. 
If you have a concern about your child’s educational progress, please contact your child’s teacher and/or school counselor.  A Child Study Team meeting may be held, which may include you, your child’s teacher(s), the school counselor, the school psychologist, the principal, and any other educational professionals that work with your child.  Information concerning your child’s development, behavior, and socialization at home; academic progress at school; behavior and socialization at school; and the results of academic or behavioral screenings may be discussed.  The Child Study Team will brainstorm ways in which you and the school personnel can support your child’s progress and decide whether to refer your child for more in-depth evaluation if a disability is suspected.

Mount Union Area School District
Provision of Related Services Including Psychological Counseling
The Mount Union Area school District provides psychological services to students with a disability as a related service in order to help the child benefit from special education. 
The need can be identified through the comprehensive evaluation or by the IEP team.  The need for psychological service is added to the IEP in the related service section, noting the specific type, frequency and duration.  Data collection and progress monitoring is used to assess the impact of the psychological counseling.
Psychological counseling within the Mount Union Area school District is conducted by the school psychologist.
The above mentioned services are provided at no cost to the parents at any time. 
For additional information:
Mrs. Dianne Thomas, Director of Special Education/Pupil Services
Mount Union Area School District
814-542-2518 Ext. 162

Special Education

The Mount Union Area School District in partnership with the home and school community is is committed to providing for the health, safety, and welfare of all students. We have adopted a strategic plan that raises the bar for student achievement within a safe learning environment and prepares each child to be successful as global citizens in the 21st Century. In doing this, it is imperative that any barriers to student learning also be addressed. The Mount Union Area School District is committed to setting high expectations and high supports for all students in the school district receiving special education services.

What is Special Education?

Special Education refers to “specially designed instruction (SDI)” to meet the needs of students identified with a disability. The term “exceptional” includes children with a physical, emotional, and/or mental disability.

Special Education supports and services in the Mount Union Area School District include a full continuum of services and are in compliance with federal and state laws. The Mount Union Area School District also utilizes resources outside the district including the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11.

The Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Education ACT of 2004 (IDEIA) requires that every state and its localities make available a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities aged 3 to 21.

What programs and/or services are available?

Programs are available in the Mount Union Area School District for students with the following disabilities: Learning Disabled, Autistic, Deafness/Hearing Impairment, Emotional Disturbance, Intellectually Disabled, Multiply Disabled, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impaired, Speech/Language Impaired, Traumatic Brain Injured and Visual Impairment including Blindness. Related services are available to assist a student with a disability including transportation, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Orientation and Mobility and Psychological Services.

A student with a disability, who is in need of specially designed instruction (SDI) within the Mount Union Area School District, is supported by a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. All IEP’s are reviewed and/or revised at least once a year. All student programs are reevaluated every three years per state mandates. Those students with a disability of Intellectually Delayed are reevaluated every two years.

Other students with disabilities who do not qualify for supports and services through special education may be provided for as a Protected Handicapped Student under the requirements of section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Chapter 15 of state regulations Title 22. Students with an identifiable disability, which limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program, can be provided with modifications and adaptations through a Chapter 15 Service Agreement.

What happens if a student is thought to be exceptional?

The law requires a series of procedures to be followed by a school district when assessing potential special education students. Parents have the right to be partners with the school staff in all aspects of that process from the evaluation to the decision over which programs, services and placement procedures are appropriate to meet their child’s needs. The procedure involves a screening process, a multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE), Individualized Education Program (IEP), if appropriate, and Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP).

Whom do I contact if I have questions and/or concerns?

If a parent/guardian has questions or concerns regarding their child’s regular or special education program they should contact the school directly and schedule a conference with the classroom or special education teacher. Additionally, the principal and/or guidance counselor at each school are available to assist any parent/guardian with the educational programming of the child.

Parents/Guardians may also contact the Special Education Consult Line through the Pennsylvania Department of Education at 1-800-879-2301 (in state) or (717) 657-5842 (out of state) for information regarding Special Education Regulations.

Surrogate Parent Program

*The Mount Area School District will work cooperatively with Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11 in the assignment of a surrogate parent.   
The surrogate parent program is a response to requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEIA 2004. It is recognized that special provision must be made to guarantee that children who do not have parents available to act for them nonetheless will have access to the extensive rights and protection afforded by IDEA. On behalf of school districts, the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit coordinates the training and assists in the assignment of surrogate parents in compliance with federal IDEIA ’04 regulations.
A surrogate parent is someone who may assume the responsibilities in matters relating to identification, evaluation, and educational placement of students for whom no parent or guardian can be identified, or their whereabouts is unknown, or the child is a ward of the state. Surrogate parents are volunteers who are trained by the intermediate unit to serve in this capacity.
A foster parent may be considered a parent for IDEA purposes if the natural parents’ authority to make educational decisions on the child’s behalf has been extinguished under State law and the foster parent has an ongoing, long-term parental relationship with the child, is willing to make the educational decisions IDEA requires of parents and has no interest that would conflict with the interests of the child. A foster child who has a foster parent who meets these criteria would not need to have a surrogate parent appointed.

Duties of a surrogate parent include becoming familiar with special education regulations, being involved in the MDE/IEP process, and receiving notifications regarding evaluation and/or placement of the student and the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the child. Training will be provided through the Tuscarora Intermediate Unit.

To qualify as a surrogate parent, individuals must meet the following qualifications:
-Be a volunteer
-Be a person of good character
-Be at least 18 years old.
-Possess reasonable abilities to make a decision concerning a student’s educational needs
-Be committed to be acquainted with the student’s educational needs and with Pennsylvania’s educational system
-Have no vested interest that would conflict with the primary allegiance to the student they would represent. 

Parent Guidelines
Parent Program Procedures