Referral Process

Parents should follow the steps listed below in sequential order if their child is having difficulty in school:

  1. Parent/teacher conferences
  2. Instructional Support Team (IST)
  3. Programs and services offered through the IST
  4. Individual psycho-educational evaluation
  5. Referral to the Committee on Special Education (CSE)
  6. Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE)

Parent/teacher conferences

The Guilderland staff is committed to the success of every child. If your child is not performing in a manner that is consistent with expectations or is experiencing frustration in the learning or school environment, either you or your child’s teacher may initiate a parent/teacher conference. Sometimes, this exchange of information will lead to a change in instructional strategies or a request for additional home support.

The lack of success may be academic in nature, but it may also involve student organizational or study skills as well as social/emotional issues. Therefore, it would not be unusual for one of our support staff to become involved in the process.

Whatever the circumstances, it is imperative to identify the need as soon as possible so that resources may be employed to help the student become as successful as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.

Instructional Support Team (IST)

In the Guilderland Central School District, the Instructional Support Team is one step in seeking a solution to a learning frustration (i.e. lack of academic progress or a behavior concern).

The Instructional Support Team is most frequently composed of both regular and special education teachers, support service personnel, and the building administration – all of whom are or may be involved with the student’s educational program. Depending upon the building/grade level, the team will include your child’s teacher(s) and an invitation may also be sent to special area teachers, the school counselor and other members of the school staff who are directly involved with the referred student.

The main objective of the team is to provide a forum for faculty and staff to share concerns and develop strategies that support students with special needs. In addition, the team seeks to provide interventions to assist the classroom teacher. If such strategies are successful, the team continues to monitor the student and make additional adjustments where necessary. If strategies are not effective, other program alternatives are examined and implemented. When all possible interventions are exhausted, a referral to the Committee on Special Education may be processed.

Students are referred to the Instructional Support Team as a means to investigate the cause of school difficulties when more traditional efforts fail. A referral to the Instructional Support Team may come from any staff member who has been involved with the student. It may also come from a parent who is concerned with the student’s lack of progress. It may even come from an outside agency or person who has been seeing the child, such as a physician or private counselor.

Instructional Support Team leaders at Guilderland: 

  • Farnsworth Middle School, Audrey Douglas, 518-456-6010 
  • Guilderland Elementary School, Kirsten Eidle-Barkman, 518-869-0293 
  • Guilderland High School, Jennifer Rickert, 518-861-8591, ext. 1062
  • Guilderland High School, Wendy McDowell, 518-861-8591, ext. 1070
  • Lynnwood Elementary School, Britton Schnurr, 518-355-7930
  • Pine Bush Elementary School, Shauna Maynard, 518-357-2770 

Educational programs and services offered through IST

It is the philosophy of the Guilderland Central School District that all students, both in regular and special education programs, are entitled to services that will enable them to be successful in the learning environment. Therefore, students who exhibit a lack of success may first be provided with remedial or support services to bring about positive results in these areas.

Academic Intervention Services (AIS) reading:

AIS reading services provide students with small group instruction in addition to what is provided in the classroom. The remedial reading teacher, along with the classroom teacher, develops strategies that address the child’s specific learning needs and then matches curriculum materials to provide instruction and ongoing assessment. It is hoped that this support will be short-term and that students will eventually develop skills and internal strategies useful within the regular classroom environment.

Academic Intervention Services (AIS) mathematics:

AIS math is similar to remedial reading in format and design. During this time, students are provided reinforcement in our math program or with the more basic math concepts. Again, it is hoped that students will only require this service for a short period of time before they can be independently successful in the classroom environment.

Speech/language services:

Speech/language services are designed to support students in the regular education environment by focusing on communication skills as well as providing students with strategies that are specifically linked to the curriculum. Here again, students are generally seen in small groups, either within the classroom or in a separate location depending on student need and classroom organization.

Social work services:

Social work services provide support for students in the areas of their social/emotional development and social interactions, specifically focusing on that which directly affects academic success. These services may include group or individual counseling which is generally short-term but may result in a referral to an outside agency if there is a need for more intensive services.

Teaching assistants:

Teaching assistants support elementary school programs in kindergarten through second grade so that the interactive curriculum may be maximized. Teachers and teaching assistants work cooperatively to provide small group and individualized instruction to al students whenever they need clarification, reinforcement or assistance.

Individual psycho-educational evaluation

An individual evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of a student’s overall ability and achievement. It may be completed by one individual or by several people, including a psychologist, a content area specialist, a therapist or a classroom teacher. Parents are informed of the need for an evaluation and the results. Specific cases may also require information of a medical or physical nature. Here too, parents may be a necessary resource.

A comprehensive evaluation consists of the following components:

  • Classroom observation,
  • Behavior rating scales if needed,
  • Social history,
  • Health examination (arranged and submitted by parent),
  • Cognitive and academic assessments, and
  • Determination of educational impact.

In the event of a referral to determine the presence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the district requires the following evaluative components prior to diagnosis:

  • Classroom observation,
  • Behavior rating scales if needed,
  • Social history,
  • Historical file review,
  • Cognitive and academic assessments or review, and
  • Determination of educational impact.

Parents are welcome to secure evaluations by professionals not affiliated with the Guilderland Central School District. The CSE will review this information in conjunction with district evaluations in order to determine needs and eligibility. At times, the district may need to supplement an evaluation from other professionals or request more information.

Referral to the Committee on Special Education (CSE)

The Committee on Special Education (CSE) is sanctioned and regulated by New York State. It acts as a multi-disciplinary team to evaluate the management, academic, physical and social needs of the referred child and determines if there is an educational disability. The CSE must then decide on an appropriate program or placement for the student and the need for related services (i.e. occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, etc.) if necessary.

The Committee on Special Education differs from the Instructional Support Team in each building as it only considers students who may qualify under federal and state regulations as students with specific “educational disabilities.” It may be a follow-up process to the Instructional Support Team investigation if there continues to be a concern regarding a student’s academic success.

Special Education Personnel:

  • Instructional Administrator for Secondary Special Education
    High School CSE Chairperson
    Mehgan Rivers, 518-861-8591, ext. 1002
  • Middle School CSE Chairperson
    Audrey Douglas, 518-456-6010, ext. 3051
  • Instructional Administrator for Elementary Special Education
    Elementary CPSE/CSE Chairperson
    Kellee deOlde, 518-861-8591, ext. 1506

Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE)

The purpose of the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) is to determine if a preschool-aged child between the ages of 3 through 5 is eligible for preschool special education services and to ensure that they receive the support necessary to prepare them to enter kindergarten.

More about the referral process:

If you have concerns about your preschool child’s speech, language, learning, physical, or behavioral development, you may refer him or her to the CPSE for an evaluation.

You will receive a packet containing a Consent to Evaluate form, a list of approved evaluation sites, a notice of Procedural Safeguards (PDF), a Medical/Immunization form and a Registration form (which will require proof of district residency).

Please Note: Children who are currently receiving Early Intervention Services for children aged birth to 3 years through the Department of Health and are approaching their third birthday may also access the preschool special education process if there are continued concerns about their development in any area. Your child’s Early Intervention service coordinator is responsible for assisting you in making this transition.

After receiving the packet, parents choose an evaluation site from the provided list and make an appointment for a multi-disciplinary evaluation. This evaluation is of no cost to parents. The consent form must be signed and returned prior to the evaluation to:

Kellee deOlde, CPSE Chairperson
8 School Road, PO Box 18
Guilderland Center, NY 12085
(518) 861-8591, et. 1506

If you would like more information regarding the preschool evaluation process or implications of the evaluation prior to referring your child, contact Kellee deOlde, CPSE Chairperson,  861-8591, et. 1506. If you are not a resident of the Guilderland Central School District, please contact the CPSE office in your home district for more information.

The multidisciplinary evaluation

The multi-disciplinary evaluation consists of the following components: a social history (including health history and a physical examination), a psychological evaluation, an observation and other appropriate assessments/evaluations to determine your child’s skills and abilities. Areas to be evaluated include cognition, language and communication, adaptive behavior, social-emotional, and motor development.

The CPSE will hold a meeting after the evaluation is completed to review the results and determine if your child is eligible for special education and services. A copy of the evaluation report, including a summary of the evaluation, will be provided to you and to other CPSE members.


The CPSE will follow guidelines established by Section 4410 of the NYS Education Law to determine if your preschool is eligible for preschool special education or services. If the CPSE determines that your child has a significant delay in one or more functional areas which adversely affects learning (cognition, language/communication, adaptive behavior, social-emotional and/or motor development), he or she may be identified as a “preschool child with a disability.”

Eligibility shall be determined by evaluation results that indicate:

  • A 12 month delay in one or more functional areas; or
  • 33% delay in one functional area or 25% delay in each of two functional areas; or
  • Score of 2.0 standard deviations below the mean in one functional area, or a score of 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two functional areas.

If a child is found eligible, the CPSE will develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is written statement that provides information about the child’s strengths and needs, present levels of educational performance, measurable goals and short-term objectives and special education program and/or services.

The IEP is reviewed at least annually. During an Annual Review meeting, your child’s progress is discussed and continued special education and service needs for the upcoming year are determined.

Programs and Services

The CPSE must consider how to provide services to your child in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) where your child can learn close to your home with other children of the same age who do not have disabilities.

The continuum of services from least restrictive to more restrictive is:

  1. Related Services: speech/language therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy
  2. Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) Services: special education teacher services are provided for a minimum of 2 hours per week in a setting recommended by the CPSE
  3. Related Services in combination with SEIT
  4. *Special Class in an Integrated Setting: a class with preschool children with and without disabilities
  5. *Special Class: a class with only preschool children with disabilities

*The CPSE will recommend either a half-day program (not more than 2.5 hours per day) or a full-day program (more than 2.5 hours per day).

Your child’s participation in the preschool special education program is voluntary on the part of parents.

Members of the CPSE

  • CPSE Chairperson
  • Parent of the child
  • Evaluator of the child
  • County representative (determined by the child’s county or residence)
  • At the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate
  • Parent member (a parent of a child with a disability who is knowledgeable about the special education process)
  • For a child in transition from early intervention programs and services, the appropriately licensed or certified professional from the Department of Health’s Early Intervention Program. This professional must attend all meetings of the CPSE conducted prior to the child’s initial receipt of services.

Determining my child’s service provider or preschool placement

Parents may choose from a list of approved service providers.

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