Preschool Intervention and Referral Specialists (PIRS):
- Provide support and suggested interventions to teachers so that all children can succeed within the general education classroom.
- Support classroom teachers in order to provide strategies for children who are exhibiting difficulty in the classroom as indicated through the screening process or the observations of the classroom teacher and master teacher.
- Provide support including written strategies for classroom staff, modeling strategies in the classroom when appropriate, providing professional development and providing consultation to classroom staff, parents, administrators and master teachers.
- Consult with necessary professionals as applicable (i.e. classroom teacher, master teacher, administrators, social workers, family workers, parents).
- Create and implement a PIRT intervention plan for which each child a RFA is received.
- Conduct classroom visits as necessary to implement intervention plans. These visits may include observations, providing feedback regarding the child or support plan, providing recommendations and modeling strategies when appropriate.
- Evaluate the progress of referred students and if necessary facilitate a written referral to the school district Child Study Team as set forth in N.J.A.C. 6A:14.
- For children with persistent behavior-related difficulties develop and implement a behavior support plan.
Referral to the Child Study Team Process
When teacher observation and/or initial screening indicates that a child should be referred, or a parent, teacher, or PIRS team member has a concern about a child’s development and suspects a potential disability, he/she should follow these steps:
- Submit a written request to the school district’s child study team for a special education evaluation. The written request (referral) must be submitted to the appropriate school official. This may be the principal at the neighborhood school, the director of the preschool program where the child attends, or the director of special education. Parents/guardians have the option of making a direct referral to the Child Study Team, but working with the school-based PIRS team is advised and an appropriate first step in most situations.
- The process begins with the parent/guardian being notified, in writing, of a meeting with the Child Study Team. The parent, preschool teacher and the child study team (school psychologist, school social worker, learning disabilities teacher-consultant, speech and language pathologist) will meet within twenty days (excluding school holidays). A booklet titled Parental Rights in Special Education(PRISE) [see link below*] prepared by the New Jersey Department of Education, is also provided to the parent/guardian. This booklet advises parents of their basic rights and responsibilities in the procedure. The first meeting is an initial planning meeting at which time all of the available student and teacher information is reviewed with the parent/guardian, the Child Study Team, the child’s teacher, and others who might have knowledge of the child and his or her difficulty in school. After the information is reviewed, a decision is made whether or not the child may have an educational disability. If there is agreement that an evaluation should be conducted, the nature and scope of the evaluation is discussed and written parental/guardian consent for the evaluation is required.
- Members of the Child Study Team conduct individual evaluations based on their specialties. A written report is prepared and sent to the parent/guardian in advance of an Eligibility Meeting, held to discuss all of the evaluations and to receive the recommendations of the Child Study Team. Parents/guardians may bring others to any meeting if desired but should inform the Child Study Team which individuals will be present at the meeting.
- After the completion of the evaluation and a determination of eligibility, an individualized education program (IEP) is developed for the child by an IEP team consisting of a parent, a child study member, a school district representative, the case manager, and general education teacher or provider. The team will determine modifications, interventions, support and supplementary services necessary to support the child. The early childhood teacher assists with the determination of the child’s needs. The preschool general education environment and routines should always be considered when determining the goals and areas needing to be addressed.
- To the maximum extent appropriate, preschool children eligible for special education will receive their preschool program with their peers without disabilities. In the event that there is a disagreement, the school district has an obligation to inform parents of due process rights in referral.
- Referrals throughout the year are made to the child study team from the birth to three early intervention (EI) system. Children exit the EI system at age three and if they are determined eligible as a preschool child with a disability, are to begin preschool with an individualized education program (IEP) at age three.
- It is not required that a child be seen by the PIRS Team before being referred to the child study team. A preschool teacher or administrator familiar with the school district’s preschool programs should be available at all meetings when determining special education services. Classroom teachers should always be involved in the planning process.
- Parents are part of the process and are informed before any action is taken.
- Each document that is prepared and/or signed is copied for the parent/guardian, and they are reminded throughout the process of their rights.