Special Education

  • Vision/Philosophy Statement

    District 115, Lake Forest Community High School, espouses the importance of fostering an inclusive environment for all students and staff. An inclusive environment encourages the affirmation, appreciation, and exploration of multiple identities and multiple perspectives. We understand that excellent and exemplary school districts foster a culture of inclusion where the lives and needs of all students are validated, recognized, and appreciated, and are centered in the educational experience provided. D115 knows that “every student has an incredible capacity to learn. Our responsibility is to create an environment that maximizes the possibility for each student’s growth”

    The Special Education Department’s goal is to support students in becoming self-advocating, self-directed, strategic learners. We are committed to providing a continuum of programming and services that allow students to develop and grow their academic, social, emotional, vocational and life skills both inside and outside the classroom environment.

    Special Education Overview

    The Department of Special Education offers a comprehensive continuum of services for students eligible for special education services due to academic, social, or language difficulties. These students are supported in general education classrooms and special education classrooms with a variety of resource supports and related service providers. Care is taken to use research-based instructional materials and skill development is frequently monitored. The department endorses a partnership philosophy with parents and encourages them to be active members of their child’s educational team.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) details the guidelines for the identification, evaluation, and eligibility determination for students who may be eligible for special education services. In the most recent reauthorization of IDEA (2004), the process for identifying students eligible under the Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) category changed significantly from over 30 years of practice. The most noticeable changes include the removal of the requirement to consider a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability, and the inclusion of the requirement that a local education agency may use a process which determines if a child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation process. This process is most commonly referred to as Response to Intervention (RtI).

    The Illinois State RtI Plan, issued on January 1, 2008, outlines a framework for statewide implementation of RtI. Included in this Plan is the requirement that school districts are required to use a process that determines how a student responds to scientific, research-based interventions (RtI) when determining whether that student is or continues to be eligible for and entitled to special education services under the category of SLD. (ISBE Guidance Doc ref.)

    Key components of an RtI process include (a) a school-wide, multi-tier instructional and behavioral system for preventing school failure, (b) universal screening, (c) progress monitoring, and (d) a data-based decision making process for determining the severity of student needs and movement within the multi-tier system. In short, an RtI process eliminates the wait-to-fail model. All students are screened on an ongoing basis, services are provided based on need rather than waiting for students to fail before high-quality interventions can be used, and an accountability system ensures frequent progress monitoring that informs changes in both the type and intensity of programming.

    Student Mental Health Days

    A new law, effective December 31, 2021, states that a student may be excused for mental or behavioral health for up to 5 days in the school year without a medical note.  The student shall be permitted to make up any work missed during a mental health absence. After a second mental health day absence is used, the student may be referred to appropriate school support personnel.

    Important Additional Information for Parents/Guardians

    • Parents/guardians have the right to inspect and/or obtain a copy of their child’s school student records prior to any IEP meeting. Written requests to inspect and/or copy the student records should be submitted to Mr. Pete Nadler, Director of Special Education, at pnadler@lfschools.net.
    • Qualified interpreters are available at IEP team meetings upon request from parents/guardians whose native language is other than English. If a qualified interpreter is not available, the District may use outside vendors, including telephonic interpreters.

    • Parents/guardians, including parents/guardians who are deaf, may request an interpreter at IEP team meetings by contacting Mr. Pete Nadler, Director of Special Education, at pnadler@lfschools.net. Parent/guardian requests for an interpreter at IEP meetings should be made at least 3 days before such meetings whenever possible.

    • Parents/guardians have the right to request that the bilingual  interpreter provided at an IEP meeting by the District serve no other role in the IEP meeting than as an interpreter, and the  District will make reasonable efforts to fulfill this request.

    • Parents/guardians may contact Mr. Pete Nadler, Director of Special Education, at pnadler@lfschools.net.with any questions or complaints about interpretation services.

    Availability of Related Service Logs

    Students with disabilities may receive related services as part of their individual education programs (IEPs). Lake Forest School District 115 will maintain related service logs that record the type and number of minutes of the related service(s) administered to such students. Copies of any related service logs will be available to parents/guardians at their child’s annual review IEP meeting. Parents/guardians of students with disabilities may also request copies of their child’s related service logs at any time.

    Notice Regarding Students with Disabilities

    Notice Regarding Students with Disabilities: House Bill 5770, which became law on August 28, 2018, requires that, beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, a school board posts on its internet website and incorporates into its student handbook or newsletter notice that students with disabilities who do not qualify for an IEP may qualify for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 if the child: (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (ii) has a record of a physical or mental impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment.

Parent Resource Center