Special Programs

Child Find Process and FERPA Rights/Confidentiality

Explanation of Child Find and Passport Charter School Requirements

A free appropriate public education (FAPE) must be available to all children with disabilities. Passport Academy Charter School strives to identify, locate, and evaluate all enrolled children who may have disabilities. Disability, as stated in IDEA, includes such conditions as hearing, visual, speech, or language impairment, specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, cognitive disability, other health or physical impairment, autism, and traumatic brain injury. The process of identifying, locating, and evaluating these children is referred to as child find.

As a public school, we will respond vigorously to Federal and State mandates requiring the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education regardless of a child's disability or the severity of the disability. In order to comply with the child find requirements, Passport Charter School shall have procedures in place to ensure that all children with disabilities, including children with disabilities who are homeless children or are wards of the state, and children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated. 

Parent permission and involvement is a vital piece in the process. Once a child has been identified as having a "suspected disability" or identified as having a disability, Passport Academy Charter School will ask for information about the child, such as:

  • How has the suspected disability or identified disability hindered the student’s learning?
  • What has been done, educationally, to address the student’s learning needs?
  • What educational or medical information relative to the suspected disability or identified disability is available to be shared with the school?

This information may be obtained from the student, his or her parents, present or former teachers, therapists, doctors, or from other agencies that have information about the student.

All information collected will be held in strict confidence and released to others only with parental permission or as allowed by law. In keeping with this confidence, Passport Academy Charter School will keep a record of all persons who review confidential information. Parents have the right to review their child's records per state mandate.

We are committed to meeting the needs of children with disabilities. If you have or know of a child who may have a disability, please contact Passport Academy Charter School for clarification, more information, or assistance.

Depending on a child's IEP, we can tailor our curriculum to meet your needs. To discuss your child's needs with us, please contact our office, and we will put you in touch with our special education team.

Preschool Services for Children with Developmental Delays

Act 212, the Early Intervention Services System Act, entitles all preschool children with disabilities to appropriate early intervention services. Young children experiencing developmental delays or physical or mental disabilities and their families are eligible for early intervention services including screening, evaluation, individualized education program planning and provision of appropriate programs and services. Potential signs of developmental delay and other risk factors that could indicate disabilities and the possibility that a child is an “eligible young child” could include:

By the age of 1: does not imitate simple gestures/actions; does not demonstrate recognition of own name; does not use single words to indicate objects or people; cannot sit independently or pull self to standing; does not show preference for primary caregiver;

By the age of 2: does not point to familiar objects on request; does not match like objects; cannot comprehend simple one-step directions; has a vocabulary of less than twenty words, not using markers or crayons; will not play near other children;

By the age of 3: not saying many words; not using 2 or 3 word phrases and sentences; not walking; awkward gait (walking); drooling; not answering “show” or “what” questions; and/or not using utensils to feed self;

By the age of 4 (all of the above included): not toilet trained; difficulty with directional words (in, on, under, out); not playing with other children, not able to draw a circle, cross or imitate a vertical line; not able to understand the child’s speech most of the time; difficulty following simple two-step directions (e.g., pick up the paper and put it in the garbage);

By the age of 5 (all of the above included): unable to answer “where” questions; unable to recall details from a story; not drawing a person with at least 6 parts; immature speech patterns (me instead of I), not able to hop forward with one foot without support;

Other warning signs at any age: little or no eye contact, over/under sensitivities to pain, light, noise; hand flapping; no awareness of space (always bumping into other people or things); awkward hand or foot positioning; won’t touch or eat certain textures; child no longer can do things he/she used to do; developed normally, then stopped; echoes what is said; plays with toys inappropriately (e.g., watches wheels spin on the car, but does not play with the car).

Center for Disease Control Links of additional indicators and milestones for parents:

You may find information regarding the appropriate developmental milestone descriptors for infants and toddlers at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website:

Signs Your High School Student May Have a Disability

The transition to high school can be quite difficult for students.  It is a new place with new teachers, administrators and new expectations.  Students are held to a high standard both academically and behaviorally.  While students with disabilities are often identified in elementary and middle school, some students reach high school before they are identified as needing specially designed instruction.  Some common signs of students with disabilities are listed below:

  • Student cannot seem to successfully follow their daily schedule
  • Student presents very poor organization skills as compared to age peers
  • Student continues to struggle with spelling
  • Student avoids tasks involving reading, writing and math
  • Student has difficulty summarizing material
  • Student has difficulty adjusting to changes in routine
  • Student works slowly as compared to age peers
  • Student cannot grasp abstract concepts
  • Student misreads printed information
  • Student complains of boredom at school
  • Student has a poor memory
  • Student presents sudden and drastic changes in behavior at school

If you suspect your child has a disability, please reach out to Passport Academy Charter School’s counselor or Head of School at 412.376.3724.

Identifying Students and Their Needs

Passport Academy Charter School shall accept referrals, as per child find provisions, from any source that suspects a child may be eligible for special education and related services.  (71 Fed. Reg. 46636 (August 14, 2006))

Response to Instruction/Intervention (RTI) team is fully implemented within Passport Academy Charter School. The RtI framework consists of three levels or tiers that are fluid and overlapping. The tiers provide various levels of support to students in terms of duration and intensiveness. The more instructional support needed the higher up on the model the student moves. Teachers using RtI utilize research-based instructional practices, targeted interventions, and curricular enhancements to support students in accomplishing their individual learning goals and include innovative scheduling and resource allocations. Fluidity and flexibility within and between the instructional tiers are critical to students’ receiving the supports they need. Every student is given an opportunity to meet or exceed proficiency standards by teachers utilizing data in an effective and collaborative decision-making process, which results in differentiating instructional practices for all learners.  If a student has not made adequate progress after an appropriate period of time and has been provided with appropriate instruction a request for an educational evaluation may be initiated.  Students are determined eligible for special education through a multidisciplinary evaluation coordinated by a school psychologist. 

Students are identified through weekly data team meetings.  Students identified for RTI Tier II instruction should be students that are not making academic or behavioral growth with typical classroom interventions and supports.  If a teacher or group of teachers after implementing typical classroom supports still has difficultly helping a student make academic or behavioral gains they then make a referral to the RTI Coordinator and Team.  The RTI team will meet to determine a more intensive level of support for the student and must gain parent or guardian permission to implement a targeted “in class” intervention plan.  The first Tier II plan is implemented for 4-6 weeks, the RTI Team then reviews student data for achievement and growth.  If growth is made the same plan is continued for another 4-6 weeks, but if the student does not make progress a new Tier II plan is made and implemented for 4-6 weeks.  Once again the RTI team reviews the student’s outcomes following the 4-6 week implementation, if the student is making progress the plan is either continued or slowly phased out, but if the student has not made adequate progress a final Tier II plan is created and implemented for 4-6 weeks.  During the third Tier II plan if the student makes progress the plan is continued for 4-6 weeks or phased out, but if the student does not show progress the student then enters Tier III.  Prior to implementing a Tier III intervention where the student is pulled – out of the general education setting daily for 30-90 minutes of intensive research and evidence based instruction, the parent or guardian must provide written permission.  After extensive data collection and interventions during the RTI process, if a student fails to make growth academically or behaviorally, a referral for further specialized testing may be requested and necessary.

A parent may request an initial special education evaluation at any time during the Passport Academy Charter School implementation of tiers 1 and 2 of the three-tier model of student intervention.  If the public agency agrees with the parent that the child may be a child who is eligible for special education services, the public agency must evaluate the child.  If the public agency declines the parent’s request for an evaluation, the public agency must issue prior written notice in accordance with IDEA guidelines.  The parent can challenge this decision by requesting a due process hearing.

Passport Academy Charter School child find activities include a screening process to determine whether the child should be referred for a full evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services.  (71 Fed. Reg. 46636 (August 14, 2006))

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

1. What is 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973/Public law 93-112 is a comprehensive law that addresses the rights of handicapped persons (hereafter referred to as persons with disabilities except when quoting the law) and applies to all agencies receiving federal financial assistance. Eliminating barriers to education programs and services, increasing building accessibility, and establishing equitable employment practices are thoroughly and specifically addressed in Section 504 regulations. Section 504 states: no otherwise qualified handicapped individual shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The regulation makes it clear that the failure to provide a free appropriate public education to a student with disabilities covered by Section 504 is discrimination which violates the Act.

2. Who is responsible for the enforcement and investigation of compliance with Section 504?

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for the enforcement and investigation of compliance with Section 504. Federal financial assistance to a local school district is contingent on compliance with Section 504 and other civil rights laws. OCR may determine that federal funds should be withheld from local school systems that are not in compliance with civil rights legislation.

3. Who is eligible for 504?

Under the provisions of Section 504, either term refers to a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such impairment. To qualify for protection under the law, the individual must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working. Examples include Tourettes Syndrome, epilepsy, sickle-cell anemia, asthma, or a serious long-term illness or injury, if there is a resulting impact on a major life activity such as learning.

If you suspect that your child needs a 504 please contact Passport Academy Charter School to speak with the 504 Coordinator.

FERPA - Rights and Confidentiality

All information collected will be held in strict confidence and released to others only with parent permission or as allowed by law. For example, our school will send records on request to a school district or other educational agency in which a student intends to enroll. The parents may have a copy of those records upon request.

In keeping with this confidence, Passport Academy Charter School will keep a record of all persons who review confidential records. Our school will also maintain a list of those employees who may have access to records. When the information is no longer needed to provide educational services to the child, the parents will be informed.

Parents and students have rights in this process. Parents have the right:

  • To review their child's records
  • To refuse permission to release information (except as required or permitted by law)
  •  To request changes to information they believe to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of their child's privacy or other rights. Passport Academy Charter School has a process to resolve disagreements about information collected.

Hill House Passport Charter School has appointed one person to make sure that information about students is kept confidential. Our school also operates a Child Management System (CMS) that assures a practical method of identifying which students are currently receiving special education services. Certain data regarding children are maintained within this password protected, secured system.

We are committed to meeting the needs of children with disabilities. If you have or know of a child who could benefit from such a program, please contact Passport Academy Charter School for more information.

McKinney Vento Act

Parent/Student Rights for Those in Transition

Passport Academy Charter School shall provide an educational environment that treats all students with dignity and respect. Every student experiencing homelessness or transition shall have access to the same free and appropriate educational opportunities as students who are not homeless. This commitment to the educational rights of homeless children, youth, and unaccompanied youth, applies to all services, programs, and activities provided or made available.

A student may be considered eligible for services under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act if he or she is presently living:

  • In temporary shared housing, a shelter, or transitional living program
  • In a hotel/motel, campground, or similar situation due to lack of alternatives
  • At a bus station, park, car, or abandoned building
  • In temporary or transitional foster care placement

According to the McKinney-Vento Act, eligible students have rights to:

Immediate Enrollment: Documentation and immunization records cannot serve as a barrier to the enrollment in school.

School Selection: Eligible students have a right to select from the following schools:

  • The school he/she attended when permanently housed (School of Origin)
  • The school in which he/she was last enrolled (School of Origin)
  • The school of attendance in which the student currently resides (School of Residency)
  • Remain enrolled in his/her selected school for the duration of homelessness, or until the academic year upon which they are permanently housed.

Participate in programs for which they are eligible, including Title I tutoring programs, Free Lunch in schools with the National School Lunch Program, Head Start & Even Start Preschool Programs.

Transportation Services: A McKinney-Vento eligible student attending his/her School of Origin has a right to transportation to and from the School of Origin.

Dispute Resolution: If you disagree with school officials about enrollment, transportation, or fair treatment of a homeless child or youth, you may file a complaint with the school district. The school district must respond and attempt to resolve it quickly. During the dispute, the student must be immediately enrolled in the school and provided transportation until the matter is resolved. The McKinney Vento Liaison will assist you in making decisions, providing notice of any appeal process, and filling out dispute forms.

We are committed to meeting the needs of all children. If you have or know of a child who could benefit from such a program, please contact Passport Academy Charter School for more information.

English Language Learners

During the application process, all families will answer a series of questions to understand a student’s home language as a first effort for Child Find and to determine if they need any additional English support.

Students with positive responses to any of the Home Language Survey questions will be referred to the ELL point of contact. 

English Language Learners are defined as:

  • An individual—
  1. who is age 3 through 21;
  2. who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school;
    1. who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English;
      1. who is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and
      2. who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual's level of English language proficiency; or
      3. who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and
  3. (D) whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual—
    1. the ability to meet the State's proficient level of achievement on State assessments described in section 1111(b)(3);
    2. the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or
    3. the opportunity to participate fully in society

The ELL Coordinator will talk with the family to determine if services were previously provided at the last school of attendance and will work to understand the current language needs of the student. Additionally, the school will request and review prior school records, including previous ELL evaluations and program plans to determine if a placement test or an assessment is necessary to determine ELL service support. Students who qualify for ELL services are assessed in four domains: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing through an English Language screener proficiency test to determine their level of English proficiency. 

When a student is identified as ELL they will participate in the school’s English as a Second Language Program, which provides instruction in English across all subject areas. This program takes into account the student's level of English proficiency and builds on the language skills and academic subject knowledge the student has acquired in his or her native language. For more information on the school’s ELL program, please contact the school directly.