Special Education

The Coast Unified School District has a firm commitment to the concept of encouraging and facilitating each student to become all he/she is capable of being. In this spirit, the district’s Special Education program is dedicated to providing the highest quality programs and services available in the least restrictive environment.

Each child referred for special education evaluation receives an individual assessment by a team of experienced, highly qualified professionals to determine strengths and needs. Based upon this assessment, the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team meets to determine eligibility and discuss program options. In order to qualify as an individual with exceptional needs under the eligibility criteria, the assessment must demonstrate that the student’s impairment adversely affects his/her educational performance and therefore requires special education. A full reevaluation of the special education student to determine continued eligibility must be conducted every three years.

We welcome your thoughts and insights as we work cooperatively toward the goal of assisting students to become self-sufficient, active, contributing citizens of society. Special Education is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities. Eligible disabilities include specific learning disabilities, limited intellectual functioning, autism, speech and language impairments, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, visual impairments,  emotional disturbance, orthopedically impaired, other health impaired, multiple disabilities, and traumatic brain injury.

Special Education Staff

Sherry Aguilar, SLMS RSP Teacher: saguilar@coastusd.org

Lisa Boland, CUHS RSP Teacher: lboland@coastusd.org

Marissa Purcell, CGS RSP Teacher: mpurcell@coastusd.org

Lisa Stevens, Speech & Language Pathologist: lstevens@coastusd.org

Adam Helfand, District Psychologist, 504 Coordinator and Director of Special Education: ahelfand@coastusd.org


County/Regional Operated Programs

The District refers severely disabled children to regional- and county-operated classes. There are integrated county classes at Hawthorne Elementary, C.L. Smith Elementary, Baywood Elementary, Sinsheimer Elementary, Del Mar Elementary, Monarch Grove Elementary,  Fairgrove Elementary, Los Osos Middle, Morro Bay High and San Luis Obispo High schools. Students in these programs may be developmentally delayed, orthopedically disabled, other health impaired, or have a combination of disabilities.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

An IEP is an Individualized Education program which is based upon a multidisciplinary assessment and includes goals, objectives, and services for the student’s educational program. The IEP is developed by a team of people which must include a teacher, a school administrator (or designee), and the child’s parent/guardian. The IEP must be reviewed and revised at least once per year.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled. Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aides and services cannot be achieved. Special Education program placement options include Inclusive Education, Designated Instruction and Services (DIS), Resource Specialist Program (RSP), and Special Day Classes (SDC).

Non-Public Schools

When a special education student cannot be served in the public school program within the District, within the county programs, or within state residential facilities, the Board of Education may approve placement in a State certified/licensed facility.

Preschool Intervention Services

Coast Unified School District provides services for preschoolers ages 3-5 with special needs. A child may qualify for these early intervention services if he/she exhibits a delay in a developmental area based on an assessment conducted by school personnel.

Psychoeducational Assessment

When a student is referred for special education services, a comprehensive assessment is completed by the professional team known as the I.E.P. (Individualized Educational Program) Team. This team includes the site administrator, the resource specialist, school psychologist, and the child’s teacher. It may also include the School Counselor, SST Chair-person, School Nurse, Speech Pathologist, and other district and/or county specialists as needed, to complete the assessment. This evaluation includes assessment for intellectual functioning, academic achievement, visual motor skills, and other areas appropriate to determine whether a student has a disability and is eligible for special education services. Although most of the assessment instruments are standardized and norm-referenced, the team will include work samples, portfolio materials, and other alternative assessments that were reviewed by the Student Success Team.

Related Services (DIS)

Related Services are supportive services the student requires in order to benefit from his special education program. California calls such services Designated Instruction and Services (DIS). Examples of such DIS services include, but are not limited to, language and speech development, audiological services, orientation and mobility instruction, occupational therapy and adapted physical education.

Resource Specialist Program (RSP)

The Resource Specialist Program (RSP) provides direct and/or indirect IEP driven special education instructional services to students who spend the majority of their school day in the regular classroom. Instruction is provided by the RSP teacher and/or the instructional aide in a resource room or in the regular classroom in collaboration with the regular education teacher.

Special Day Class (SDC)

Special Day Class (SDC) enrollment provides for special education students whose IEP goals and objectives indicate the need for the student to spend the majority of the school day in a special class with a Special Education teacher.

Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)

The District participates in a consortium with the other districts with San Luis Obispo County. The State provides funds for the administrative structure, including program specialists. The SELPA provides for countywide coordination of programs and services through the local plan. The local plan is revised and submitted for State approval every three years.

Speech and Language Pathologists

Speech and Language Pathologists serve students who have qualified for special education services in the following areas: articulation, language development (not due to bilingualism), auditory processing, fluency, voice, and deficiencies associated with hearing loss. Specific skill development may be taught in individual or small group settings, or within the resource room or regular education classroom.

State-Operated Schools

The District may refer a student to a state-operated school when additional assessment is required or a residential program is needed to implement the IEP. State-Operated Schools are located in Riverside (School for the Deaf), Fremont (School for the Deaf, School for the Blind, and Neurological Diagnostic Center), and Fresno (Neurological Diagnostic Center). In order to be referred to these programs, the District must demonstrate that the student needs services that cannot be provided within the District’s continuum of special education services.

Section 504

The Rehabilitation Act defines a person with a disability as anyone who: has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more life activities (major life activities include activities such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working); has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against persons with a disability in any program receiving federal financial assistance. In order to fulfill its obligation under Section 504, Coast Unified School District recognizes a responsibility to avoid discrimination in policies and practices regarding its personnel and students. It is the intent of the District to ensure appropriate services to students who are disabled within the definition of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.