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Observation of Special Programs Director The Director of Special Programs is responsible for those programs that fall outside

of the realms of general education. Most often, when people think of special programs they think of special education. Special education is most well-known and often largest program within the umbrella of special programs. The Director of Special Programs also oversees gifted education, health services, 504 disabilities services, and counseling. Dr. Lupardus, the Director of Special Programs for the Lebanon School District, is responsible for the management and administration of special programs. In special programs, funding is everything. There are things that can be payed for within a specific budget and there are things that can’t. Special education is a prime example of a program that has to follow funding guidelines because so much of what is provided for and used by special education students is reimbursed by special educations funding through the state and federal government. During one of my visits, Dr. Lupardus and the administrative assistant for special programs were working on the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Final Expenditure Report (FER). Because ECSE services are mandatory, cost of providing services to special education students age 3-5 are paid through state and federal funds. Districts must submit the FER in order to be reimbursed for qualifying expenditures. Statewide these costs are upward of $150 million for 12,000 ECSE students, with the state paying more than 75% of the bill. The state has issued guidelines for expenditures and limitation as a measure to control cost; however it is ultimately the districts job, the Director of Special Programs, to run a cost efficient and cost effective program. Special programs are an example of student’s right. These programs are made available to students that need them because it is every child’s right to receive an education. Special programs make education fair because not all students learn the same way or need the same resources to learn. Dr. Lupardus believes that doing her job successfully allows students to be successful and receive the

education that we have promised them. Most of the work she does is behind the scenes. Students being serviced by a special program often do not even know she exists and have never met her. When her job is done effectively, students and teachers have the resources they need to ensure success. With so many of the expenditures of special education being reimbursable by state and federal funds, the director of special programs but keep extensive records over what money was spent and the for what students. As the Director of Special Programs, Dr. Lupardus is also very knowledgeable of the law. She takes on the responsibility of being the representative of the school district for legal issues involving any of the special programs and their students, teachers, and other staff members. She described her role as being the liaison between the lawyers and the teachers or staff members involved when the need arises. She recalled a time when there was an Office of Civil Rights (OCR) complaint. She said in these types of situations, she tries to gather information and investigate as much as possible so that teachers can stay in the classrooms and counselors can say in the buildings. Dr. Lupardus also discussed the importance of just treating people with compassion and giving them your time, especially in these types of situations. Often, when there are complaints and they involve special programs the matter of discussion is very sensitive and confidential. She said you must allow people (teachers, counselors, and staff) to decompress after heavy meetings so that they can leave and focus on their job of teaching and nurturing students. Dr. Lupardus also discussed her role as it pertains to building principals. She thought that in a smaller district some of her duties may fall to the building principals, process coordinators, counselors, and special educators themselves. It is everyone’s responsibility to be sure that special needs students are being serviced in the proper manner, whether they are on a 504 disability plan or an IEP. She said that her role is to handle the management and administration of these programs.