Princeton Charter School will develop and apply consistently a procedure to identify and educate at-risk students. In all instances this procedure will adhere to all the student protection, parent consent and notification requirements, and due process provisions of the relevant statutes and applicable regulations.
At-risk students may exhibit one or more of the following characteristics: failure to perform at the specified grade-level in one or more subject areas; poor school attendance; limited English proficiency; disruptive or disaffected behavior; history of behavioral problems; or pregnancy and parenthood.
Students will be identified as potentially at-risk by the teachers, in the course of daily classroom observations and assessments of pupil performance and behavior, or by their parents/guardians, who communicate their concerns to the PCS staff.
PCS support for at-risk students follows the prevention, intervention, and improved learning environment approach outlined in NJAC 6:8-6.2. Many features of the regular school environment and curriculum promote an atmosphere which minimizes the need for interventions. These include general approaches such as recognition of a variety of learning and teaching styles and encouragement of active parental involvement for improved home-school communication as well as specific curriculum items such as conflict resolution or substance abuse in health. PCS maintains a safe, disciplined school atmosphere conducive to learning.
Although the emphasis of the PCS education program is prevention of academic problems, integrated assessments allow for immediate intervention in the case of insufficient achievement. Students thus identified receive individual tutoring during the daily reading period. If this proves to be insufficient, additional time will be scheduled for tutoring in reading, writing and basic mathematics, or in other subjects as needed.
PCS recognizes that some of the at-risk student's difficulties may be due to health or emotional problems and/or to the family's circumstances. PCS will maintain an up-to-date list of social and health service agencies and organizations at the local and state level; will refer students and/or their families to such agencies or organizations when appropriate; and will follow up each case and act as an advocate for the student and family. Some relevant community organizations already contacted by PCS are listed in Section 5.13.
Although every effort will be made to mitigate factors causing a pupil to be academically at risk, in some cases this may not be possible. In case of such continuing difficulties, a Pupil Assistance Committee constituted per state guidelines and with the consent of parents/guardians, will conduct an evaluation of the student. In a joint meeting, parents, the classroom teacher, and the PAC will develop a written plan of action for the at-risk student. For students who fail to benefit from this plan, a child study team will determine the eligibility of the child for special education and determine his/her classification. Within no more than 30 days, the child study team will work out an individualized education program (IEP), and within another 30 days that program will begin to be implemented. The student will be reevaluated upon recommendations from either the teachers, child study team, or parents/guardians, but no later than within three years.
Since the systematic separation of limited-English proficient (LEP) students from the mainstream in bilingual programs has the ultimate effect of isolating such students, the school will consistently place as many LEP students as possible in the regular classes. This approach practices inclusion. It also recognizes the immersion method of language acquisition as the fastest, most complete, and most effective; it is a method which is eminently suitable for children, who may learn as much language from interaction with playmates as from formal instruction. For students whose English language proficiency is so limited as to prevent them from following most of the activities in a regular classroom, the school will provide instruction in English as a second language for a certain period of time every school day. Because the objective is transition to fully English classes, the LEP student will also be expected to participate in part of the regular classroom schedule, where all students have the opportunity to hear and use English. Evaluation of such children for English language proficiency will occur at least annually, but more frequently if the child's progress warrants. Provision will be made to communicate with these students' parents. If 20 or more LEP students who speak the same language and would qualify for a bilingual program are enrolled at PCS, the school will provide a high intensity ESL program developed in conjunction with the State Department of Education per state guidelines and pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6:31-1.5. Princeton Charter School has requested a waiver of the requirement for a bilingual program based on the improbability of sufficient enrollment of such students; please refer to Section 15 Waivers of Regulations.
Princeton Charter School will develop and apply a single basic procedure to identify and educate students with disabilities. In all instances this procedure will adhere to all the student protections, parent consent and notification requirements, and due process provisions of the relevant statutes and applicable regulations. Parents/guardians of students admitted to PCS complete and sign a registration form. Among the information which this form requests is relevant previous academic history, including any existing classifications, individualized education programs, etc. Students whom teachers, in the course of classroom observations, identify as potentially at-risk, will be referred to the child study team. Based upon such initial identification and recommendations, and with the consent of parents, the child study team will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the student. In a joint meeting, parents, the classroom teacher, and the child study team will determine the eligibility of the child for special education and his/her classification. Within no more than 30 days, the child study team will work out an individualized education program (IEP), and within another 30 days that program will begin to be implemented. In concert with the IEP, the team will consider the need to obtain related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. Finally, no later than within three years, but sooner upon the teacher's and/or child study team's recommendation, the pupil will be reevaluated.
As a new school with an unknown enrollment, it is premature to define the exact services which will be needed and offered to students. Among the options which the school may offer are: curriculum or instructional modifications within a regular classroom; support programs and supplementary instruction; special class programs; resource rooms; child study team services; speech-language services; counseling; family support and involvement sessions; assistive technology; and structural modifications to buildings per ADA specifications. It is likely that many of these services, including the child study team, would be provided on a contractual basis, rather than by permanent staff, at least during the school's initial years of operation.