Instructional Support Staff

OCDE employs a full array of trained specialists to provide program support, consultation and direct service for students with special needs. Typical support personnel may include, but are not limited to the following:

Adapted Physical Education (APE) Teachers provide services for students’ gross motor development. Services may be direct instruction (group or individual), collaboration or consultation. APE instructional techniques are used to improve the student’s movement performance in gross motor, object control (ball handling), perceptual motor, functional, and sport/game skills; physical fitness (strength, endurance, cardiovascular and flexibility); and motor fitness (speed, power, agility, balance and coordination).

Adult Transition Specialists provide oversight and guidance for all secondary transition programming for students with disabilities, 16 years and older. Specialized support is provided to parents and students to plan for life after program completion including post-secondary education, employment and independent living. This includes collaborating with community agencies to promote student access to needed resources and support services.

Assistive Technology Specialists provide district wide coordination, training and technical support for the implementation of approved augmentative and assistive technology equipment. They provide for the functional analysis of the student’s needs for assistive technology; selecting, designing, fitting, customizing or repairing appropriate devices; coordinating services with assistive technology devices; and training or technical assistance for students with a disability, the student’s family, individuals providing education, and employers.

Audiologist consults with and assists staff who serve deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the Special Schools program; to plan programs, coordinate resources and evaluate the effectiveness of the amplification needs and equipment; to provide consultation services regarding acoustic treatment of rooms, home training programs and coordination of educational services; to participate in staff and program development related to the special methods and approaches of providing appropriate educational programs for deaf and hard of hearing individuals; and to provide aural rehabilitation and habilitation with individual pupils of groups and support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the classroom.

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) provide occupational therapy treatment to students under the supervision of the registered Occupational Therapist (OTR).   Their role is to treat students with physical disabilities and report on the student’s progress in attaining identified goals and objectives.

Occupational Therapists provide collaborative consultation and support to staff and/or specialized direct instruction to improve a student’s educational performance related to fine motor, gross motor and sensory integration development. They use goal-directed activities to improve the student’s educational performance in postural stability, self-help abilities, sensory processing and organization, environmental adaptation and use of assistive devices, motor planning and coordination, visual perception and integration, and fine motor abilities.

Orientation and Mobility Specialists provide direct service and consultation in techniques to enable visually impaired students to achieve optimum level of independent travel.  They provide orientation and mobility assessments, low vision evaluations, concept development; basic mobility techniques, such as sighted guide, trailing, and cane skills; functional use of residual vision; residential travel skills, such as cardinal directions and street crossings; business travel skills, such as techniques to cross intersections controlled by traffic signals and store travel; and the use of public transportation.

Paraeducators provide instructional assistance to the classroom teacher within the classroom setting.  Paraeducators are trained in all aspects of the instructional program, including a wide variety of instructional methodologies, behavior management, and data collection. Responsibilities may include:  providing direct and small group instruction, data collection, and monitoring student behavior, performing clerical duties, and assisting with student personal care needs.


Physical Therapists provide collaborative consultation and support to staff and/or specialized direct instruction to improve a students’ educational performance related to functional gross motor development. They use goal-directed activities to improve the student’s motor control and coordination, posture and balance, self-help capabilities, functional mobility, accessibility, and the use of assistive devices.

Principal is the instructional leader of his/her assigned school site(s).  The primary duties of the principal are to manage, supervise, plan and coordinate the activities and operations of the school site; to coordinate assigned activities with other schools, outside agencies and the general public; and to provide highly responsible and complex staff assistance to the Director, Special Schools and Programs.  Duties also include supervision and evaluation of staff, curriculum development, development and monitoring of budget, and acting as case manager/administrator of student IEP’s.

Program Specialist Autism provides observation, consultation, and assists special education staff at the school district level; to plan programs, coordinate curricular resources, and evaluate effectiveness of programs for students with autism; and to participate in staff and program development related to the special methods and approaches of providing special education services.

School Nurses assist in the understanding and facilitation of the health and developmental needs of a student. They provide consultation, training and support to staff specific to a student’s health needs and/or specialized physical health care services, as prescribed by a physician, which are necessary during the school day to enable a student to attend school. Specialized physical health may include, but are not limited to suctioning, oxygen administration, gastrostomy feeding, insulin administration and glucose testing.

School Psychologists assist in the identification of intellectual, social, and emotional needs of students. They provide consultation and support to families and staff regarding behavior and conditions related to learning.  Provide consultation and support to staff and/or specialized instructional support for students designed to promote lasting, positive changes in the student’s behavior resulting in greater access to a variety of community settings, social contacts, public events and placement in the least restrictive environment. They plan behavior programs to meet the special needs of students as indicated in the IEP. School psychologists often serve as a facilitator or administrative designee during an IEP meeting and are trained as Behavior Intervention Case Managers (BICM).

Special Day Class Teachers (Educational Specialist) provide intensive instruction and services to students in self-contained special education classrooms when the nature or severity of the disability precludes the student’s participation in the general education classroom for a majority of the school day. Special education teachers may also provide consultation and support to general education staff and/or part-time instruction to students with intensive special education needs.
 
Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) assess students for possible delayed speech and language skills and if eligible, provide direct or collaborative services in the areas of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.  In addition the SLP is available for consultation and support to staff members and parents regarding communication skill development.  Services are not provided when language deficits or speech patterns are the result of English as a second language or from environmental, economic, or cultural differences.

Speech and Language Pathologist Assistants (SLPA) implements IEP goals and provides speech and language services under the supervision of a credentialed Speech and Language Pathologist.  The SLPA has a professional license issued by the State of California Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Board.

Vision Specialists provide consultation and support to staff and/or specialized instructional support for students with visual impairments. They provide functional vision assessments and curriculum modifications necessary to meet the student’s educational needs: including Braille, large type and aural media; instruction in areas of need; concept development and academic skills; communication skills; and social, emotional, career, vocational and independent living skills.