School offers equal opportunities to all students

By Jessie Farr

Disabilities are a natural part of the human experience, and should in no way diminish the right of individuals to participate in and contribute to society as the U.S. Congress recognized in its 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA). With appropriate educational services, students with disabilities, like all other students, can be prepared to lead productive, independent, adult lives to the maximum extent possible.

At Moffat County High School, we have recognized a duty to provide services to students with disabilities. We have four teachers specifically trained to work with students with special needs to ensure that children with disabilities receive a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet students' unique needs, and to prepare them for employment and independent living.

To be eligible for these services, a student must be declared a "child with a disability" as defined by IDEA, i.e., mental, hearing, speech, language, or visual impairments, learning disability, emotional disturbances, autism and others health impairments.

Tests and other evaluation methods are used to determine if a student has an eligible disability and needs services. If a student qualifies and needs services an "Individualized Education Program" (IEP) is the basic plan for providing special education and related services. An IEP is a written statement for each child with a disability, which is developed with parents and a team of professionals, reviewed regularly and revised as needed.

Academic needs of students are met through the IEP process to help students with special needs reach academic potential. In addition, the process involves helping students to transition into post high school and/or job training, independent living and other services related to transitioning these students smoothly into adulthood with the skills to be productive citizens.

The School To Work Alliance Program (SWAP) now has an office in the high school with hours from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., by appointment. Students are assisted in all transition needs related to jobs, career decisions and post high school decisions and training. The Transitional Senior program is also available for identified students until age 21 years old, to help them with costs of post high school training at Colorado Northwest Community College in Craig. Nancy Loughran is the high school liaison for both of these programs.

Special opportunities are provided for students to learn basic job skills through job shadowing, mentorships, and on the job training. Employers in Craig do a wonderful job working with all of the MCHS students in development of job skills. Field trips are also planned to make students aware of the opportunities for post high school training in the area. The following trips are planned for this year: Mesa Vocational Institute, Wyoming Tech, Job Corps, and Community Colleges.

If any parents or community members would like more information about any of these programs, please call the high school and speak to Jessie Farr, Dorie Hafey, Wille Babb, Scott Parker or Nancy Loughran at 824-7036. (Jessie Farr is the assistant principal at Moffat County High School.)

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