Special Education

My child receives special education services outlined in an IEP or a 504 plan.

  • IEP: Individual Education Plan
  • 504: Accommodations provided through the Americans with Disabilities Act

1. Who are the key people in special ed and what are their email addresses and telephone numbers?

Andrew Aspel – School Psychologist
Tracey Murphy – School Psychologist
Steven Feinberg – Southside
Kevin Flynn – Compass
Kevin Lenane – Connections
Josepha Blocker – CORE
Lisa Wilensky – Academic Support
Betty Kershaw – Special ed office
Cathy Leone – Special ed office
Kathy Farnsworth – Special Ed Dept. Head

The main telephone number for special education is 617-559-6600. All staff emails are: first name _ (underscore) last name @ newton.k12.ma.us

2. What support programs are available and how do each of them work?

Click here to see program descriptions. If there are additional questions, please contact Kathy Farnsworth, Special Ed Dept. Head.

3. How often are students tested? Can you request testing at any time?

After an initial evaluation, student are re-evaluated, per special education law, every three years. If a new concern arises in an area that hasn’t previously been assessed a parent can request testing in that area. Testing is not considered valid if it is administered in less than a two-year time frame, as students will have familiarly with the test questions, and because there hasn’t been enough time since the last testing to really identify growth or regression in an area.

A parent can request an initial evaluation if they are concerned that their child has a disability. We don’t test for the sole purposes of SAT accommodations, and the law is very clear on this.

If a straight A student’s parent requests testing, either Andrew Aspel or a staff member will typically call that parent and ask what their specific concerns are. Once the testing process is explained and we speak to the fact that in order for a student to be eligible for special education there has to be clear data/evidence that the student isn’t able to access the general education curriculum as typical peers do, most parents are very reasonable. They usually don’t want to take their child out of content area classes for 3+ hours of cognitive and education assessments when they realize the standard for being eligible for special education.

4. Who should the parent contact if they have an issue with a teacher?

The parent should call the content area teacher first. After that conversation if they feel that their reasonable concerns haven’t been addressed, they should contact the special education teacher or content area department head. If nothing seems to be getting resolved, please contact Kathy Farnsworth, Special Ed. Dept. Head.

5. How do I work with the school to ensure my student is receiving the services they need?

Parents and students 14 years and older work with the Team. The Team includes general education teachers, special education teachers, guidance counselors, inclusion facilitators, and other specialists. Parents and students are important contributors to the process.

IEPs are reviewed annually to measure progress made from the goals and objectives. Progress reports are issued at the same time to special education students as they are provided to regular education students.

Every three years, a re-evaluation takes place with testing, and a Team meeting is held to determine what services should be added or removed.

6. What are the steps I need to take to get accommodations for students taking SATs and/or ACTs?

The College Board administers the SAT exams, and they do not automatically grant accommodations just because the student has an IEP/504. They want to know that the accommodations requested are the same that are in place regularly at South. For example, if a student requests extended time, South needs to provide data that shows the student is receiving extended time at school.

The range of accommodations is extensive, ranging from small group testing to use of adaptive technology. Please see http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/ssd/application/dates for more details, and note the deadlines are several weeks earlier than the regular deadline for exams.

These sites have more information on the process:

http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/for-students-with-disabilities and http://www.collegeboard.com/ssd/student/

FAQs will be added during the school year.

If you would like to connect with a South parent, please contact Jo-Louise Allen at jolouise.allen@gmail.com or Holly Schneider at hollypschneiderod@gmail.com