Daily attendance is vital to student learning and is the main source of funding for our programs. Students are expected to attend school each school day unless they are ill or are absent for a medically related reason. Parents are requested to contact the school office each day of student absence. Parents are requested to plan family vacations around the school holiday calendar.
Students who have unexcused absence of five (5) or more consecutive school days are reported to the student’s district of residence.
Students initially entering the OCDE program are referred by their local school district. Throughout each student’s enrollment the local school district remains the responsible agency. Prior to attending the OCDE Special Schools program, and at the beginning of each school year, parents must complete and return an enrollment packet, which includes various permissions, consent forms and emergency information.
Parents are required to complete student emergency cards annually and update emergency contact information in a timely manner. A copy of each emergency card is kept on file in the school office and within each student’s classroom.
Extended School Year
The OCDE Special Schools program operates a 182-day regular year program. In addition, the program typically offers an extended school year of approximately thirty-four (34) school days. Participation in the extended school year is optional for students and is listed within each student’s IEP. Our extended school year calendar is approved on an annual basis by the OCDE school board.
Health Issues/ Student Illness
The school nurse and/or the site administrator shall make the determination as to whether a student should be sent home due to illness or injury (CEC 48211). The school nurse may use his/her expertise and knowledge along with other resources in making the decision. Factors used to aid in arriving at the decision may include: Body temperature, student’s history of illness, behavior change, ability to participate in class, teacher input, availability of transportation and/or Principal/designee’s input.
If a student is ill, the parent(s)/careprovider may be notified immediately to pick up the student. The parent/careprovider may be informed by the principal/designee that the student may not return to school until they are well. The parent/careprovider may be informed that transportation is placed on hold until the student is well. It is the responsibility of the parent/careprovider to call the school to indicate that the student is no longer ill and to call for transportation to resume. Ill students may be separated from the classroom and monitored in a safe place, isolated from other students, until such time the student can be returned home.
If the parent/careprovider is home but unable to pick up the student, the parent will be requested to arrange for transportation as soon as possible. Emergency card designees may also be contacted if the parent/careprovider is not available.
Individualized Safety Plan (ISP)
Some of the conditions and characteristics of Special School’ students necessitate the use of safety procedures or safety restraints. An Individual Safety Plan is developed when an undesired behavior or a medical condition cannot be accommodated by behavior management techniques to enable the student to participate in specified activities in a safe and healthful manner. The school psychologist and school nurse may assist in development of an ISP to fully identify the parameters of the plan.
Immunizations are a contributing factor to your child’s health and well being through his school years. California state law requires that an immunization record be presented to the school nurse or staff by the parent or guardian before admission to any public or private school. Usually, this is the child’s personal immunization record given to you by your child’s doctor or clinic and it should include the date that each required vaccine dose was given. There are specific requirements for preschool, kindergarten and 7th grade. The school nurse may also periodically send notices home regarding boosters on non-mandated immunizations, such as Hepatitis A, varicella, and menectra. If requirements are not met, you may receive written notice that your child may not be able to attend school until immunizations are updated. California law does allow for personal and medical exemption for immunizations; please contact the school nurse if this applies to you.
The OCDE Special Schools program acknowledges that many of our students require medication to assist in the management of behavioral and medical needs. Whenever possible, parents are requested to schedule the administration of medication outside of school hours. In the event that medication(s) must be administered at school, parents are required to complete a series of paperwork and obtain specific administration of medication orders signed by the student’s physician in accordance with (ED. Code Section 49423, 49423.1).
All medications maintained on the school site must be kept in a container that with a clearly written pharmaceutical label. The school nurse monitors administration of all medications. Transportation of medication on the school bus is generally prohibited, and must be authorized by the local school district bus company.
The Orange County Department of Education recognizes the value of parent involvement in the special education process. The procedures for timely notification, parental input and support are firmly established within the Special Schools program. Many of our teachers communicate with parents on a regular basis via communication notebooks. Parent teacher conferences are also provided to review student progress and gain parental input throughout the school year. Parents are also invited to participate in appropriate staff development activities. Teachers and administrators are vigilant in their efforts to seek parent input and keep parents informed.
Parent Satisfaction Survey
Each year parents are given the opportunity to provide feedback related to their satisfaction with the OCDE Special Schools program via an annual Parent Satisfaction Survey. Parents were asked to read a series of statements and choose one of the following responses: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, and Strongly Agree. The results of the survey are reported to the State Department of Education and the public at-large via the School Accountability Report Card (SARC).
Each OCDE special schools program develops a yearly calendar, reflecting days of instruction, holidays, and non-student days. With some exceptions, the special schools calendar follows the same holiday calendar as that of the “host” school district. School calendars are provided at the start of every school year and are also available upon request.
OCDE strives to provide a variety of healthy meal choices that appeal to students. All meals served to students are analyzed to meet or exceed requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture and the School Meal Initiative. OCDE recognizes that wellness and proper nutrition are related to students’ physical well-being, growth, development and readiness to learn. All foods available in our program during the school day are offered to students with consideration for promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity.
We encourage parents and teachers to provide healthy food choices for class parties, celebrations, classroom incentives, and lunches brought from home. Working together we can make our schools a place where a student’s health is a priority and the benefits have a positive effect on their academic success and overall wellness.
Parents, at most of our school sites, have the option to purchase a school lunch or provide a sack lunch for their child. Some sites also have a system to allow parents to prepay for meals and/or healthy a la carte items by setting up a prepaid account. A free or reduced lunch is available for qualified students if your household income is within the limits of the Federal Income Eligibility guidelines. You may submit an application at any time during the school year. It will be processed and a letter sent to your home notifying you if your children qualify for meal benefits. Parents must complete the application process, each year, to qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program.
The majority of the students in the Special Schools program receive home to school transportation. Both OCDE and local school districts cooperate to provide safe and consistent transportation service for each special education student. Typically, buses are met upon arrival at school by classroom staff and students are escorted to their buses upon dismissal in the afternoon. Bus Aides may be required for students requiring medical and/or behavioral monitoring.
The OCDE Special Schools program welcomes parents and professionals to visit school sites. Visitors wishing to observe ongoing classroom instruction are asked to make advanced arrangements with the teacher or principal and are asked to limit their observation to 30-45 minutes. During classroom observations, visitors are asked to be "passive" observers and to refrain from conducting conversations and/or becoming actively involved in the instructional process, unless prearranged with the classroom teacher. OCDE teachers/staff are happy to schedule conference time as needed. Visits by children who are friends, relatives or siblings are not allowed without prior approval from the principal due to the lack of facilities as well as liability and confidentiality concerns.
For security reasons and in accordance with OCDE and District policy we ask that all visitors sign-in at the office before going to the classrooms. Visitors will be asked to wear a badge while they are on campus.
The OCDE Special Schools program welcomes volunteers to assist in our school program. Volunteers should contact the classroom teacher or school principal to identify areas of needed assistance within the classroom, office or school setting. Volunteers are required to be fingerprinted, be free of a criminal record and must provide TB clearances. Personal qualities of desired volunteers include dependability, punctuality, a willingness to learn and an emphasis on confidentiality and discretion.
Water Activity Program
Some of our special schools sites have regular access to a swimming pool and are able to provide a water activity program for students. Students participating in water activities must have a Water Activity Program consent form on file with the school office, signed by the parent/guardian, physician and the school nurse.