Special Education

The following guide provides a brief description of the process used to assist students who are experiencing difficulty in regular education classes and the procedures for evaluating students and determining if special education programs are needed.

In addition to the information about our programs noted below, please read the “Child Find” guidelines the District uses for identifying needs of students: CHILD FIND. For more information regarding special education programs and services, contact John Moslander, District Administration Center, 200 North Fifth Street, Columbia, PA 17512 or call 717-681-2606.

The following information areas are provided below:

  • Instructional Support

  • Evaluation Report (ER)

  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team

  • Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP)

  • Confidentiality of Records

  • Type of Programs and Services

  • Procedural Safeguards Notice


The Instructional Support process involves providing adaptations within the regular classroom in order to give students who are experiencing learning problems the extra support they need to succeed.

Student Support Teams are in place in each of the district’s school buildings. The teams are composed of the building principal and/or assistant principal, the student’s classroom teacher(s), and the student support teacher. Additional staff member, such as the school psychologist reading specialist, guidance counselor and/or nurse, may also be included on the teams.

A teacher or a parent may refer a student to the Student Support Team. The team gathers information from a variety of sources to determine the student’s instructional needs and to develop strategies to meet these needs. These strategies are then implemented and monitored over a specified period of time. Strategies are modified and/or new interventions are put into place as necessary.

If a student continues to demonstrate academic and/or behavioral difficulty, a referral is made for an Evaluation.


An Evaluation Report (ER) is provided when a student is thought to be “exceptional.” School personnel generally initiate such an evaluation after adaptations have been provided in the regular education program through the Student Support Process. Under certain circumstances, evaluations are initiated without provision of instructional support activities (such as when an obvious severe disability exists or when parents request an evaluation).

An Evaluation Team conducts the evaluation. In addition to school personnel, parents are part of the Team and are asked to provide information to be included in the evaluation.

Parents who suspect that their child is exceptional may request an evaluation. The request must be in writing and submitted to the school psychologist. Upon receipt of the written request, the school psychologist may schedule a meeting with the parents and school personnel to further discuss the request and evaluation procedures.


After the evaluation is completed and the report has been prepared and disseminated, an IEP Team meets. Based upon the recommendations in the evaluation report, this team determines whether or not the child is exceptional and needs special education. If the team agrees that the child needs special education, a written plan is developed which describes the child’s special education program and/or services. This plan is called an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Parents are members of the IEP Team and are always included in the IEP Team meeting. Various school personnel who have worked with and/or evaluated the child may also be part of the team.


Upon the completion of the IEP Team meeting, a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) is issued to the parents. This form notes the program and/or services which are recommended as well as reasons for the recommendation. Parents must indicate agreement or disagreement with the recommendations and sign the NOREP.

If a parent disapproves on the NOREP, there are procedures which can be put into place to resolve the differences. The procedures are provided in writing to parents with both the Permission to Evaluate form and the NOREP.


The School District protects the rights of confidentiality, access to and destruction of pupil records. School board policy outlines the ways in which confidentiality and privacy are protected in the maintenance and dissemination of pupil records.


A full range of special education programs and services is provided by Columbia Borough School District. Some are operated directly by the district, and others are provided through contracts with the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13.

Depending upon identified needs, exceptional students may be in classes or receive services in the following categories:

Learning Support – Service and programs for exceptional students who primary identified need is academic support.

Emotional Support – Service and programs for exceptional students whose primary identified need is for emotional support.

Life Skills Support – Service and programs for exceptional students whose primary identified need is for functional academics and skills for independent living.

Physical Support – Service and programs for exceptional student who need special education modifications due to physical disabilities.

Multiple Disabilities Support – Service and programs for exceptional students who have multiple disabilities.

Autistic Support – Service and programs for exceptional students who are autistic.

Speech and Language Support – Service and programs for exceptional students who are speech and language impaired.

Hearing Impaired Support – Service and programs for exceptional students who are deaf or hearing impaired.

Visually Impaired Support – Service and programs for exceptional students who are blind or visually impaired.

Gifted Support – Service and programs for exceptional students identified as mentally gifted.

Answers to common questions regarding Special Education services
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