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Department of Students Services "Bits and Bites"

January 2019
The Student Services Department has Individualized Education Program (IEP) goal writing professional development scheduled during the months of January and February.  This will insure that the goals are written to Common Core Standards, Social Emotional Learning Standards or Essential Elements - depending on the needs of the learner.  This training will also provide the participants strategies to assess the learners as they work towards their goals.   
October 2018

Who are the members of a special education team?

What is special education? 

District 33 is proud to have dedicated professionals working collaboratively to identify and support children with disabilities. These individuals include general education teachers, special education teachers and facilitators, speech and language pathologists, school psychologists, social workers, nurses, health assistants, paraprofessional, administration and the parents!

One of our department goals is to increase parent involvement and understanding of the Individual Education Program (IEP) process. We will be hosting a parent academy in November to help parents understand the identification process, the paperwork and the vocabulary associated with special education. If you are interested in attending one of these academies, please email Suzanne Nissen at [email protected]

September 2018
Greetings and salutations!  
The Department of Student Services has had a wonderful start to the 2018-2019 school year.  On August 27, 2018 the entire department had the opportunity to meet and discuss the goals for the school year.  Our department theme is “When Pigs Fly!” to remind ourselves to focus on the ability in disability. Each of the staff members received a stress ball flying pig to utilize as a fidget in their learning environments. Children more readily engage in dialogue when they have something in their hands. The department goals, which are aligned to the District Strategic Plan, include:

=   Learning to write IEP goals aligned to Common Core Standards or Essential Elements

=   Provide meaningful professional development opportunities

=   Increase parent involvement and attendance in the IEP process and review

=   Recommend staff assignments based on student need

We have begun our cycle of meeting with the various subgroups of our department to help provide consistency in processes.  We are extremely excited to work with such dedicated and enthusiastic professionals to meet the needs of our students and look forward to a successful year.
March 2018

McKinney-Vento Act :  Homeless Students

There is a law in place that makes attending school easier for students facing homelessness.  The law requires school districts to expedite enrollment for students who are determined to be homeless.  These students do not need proof of immunizations nor need complete records from previous school in order to start school.   Once registered, we will work with families to help obtain these documents.  Homelessness as defined by our Regional Office of Education:

  • Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters or are abandoned in hospitals
  • =   Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings
  • =  Children and youths who are living in a cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus/train stations, or similar settings,
  • =  Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described above

McKinney Vento gives families the following rights:

  • =  The right to immediate enrollment in school, even if lacking paperwork normally required for enrollment.
  • =  The right to attend school in his/her school of origin (if this is requested by the parent and is feasible) or in the school in the attendance area where the family or youth is currently residing
  • =   The right to receive transportation to his/her school of origin, if this is requested by the parent.
  • =  The right to services comparable to those received by housed schoolmates, including transportation and supplemental educational services.
  • =   The right to attend school along with children not experiencing homelessness. Segregation based on a student’s status as homeless is strictly prohibited.

=   The posting of homeless students’ rights in all schools and other places around the community. If you are experiencing homelessness or have questions, please contact your school secretary or school social worker. 

February 2018
D33 Welcomes New Director of Student Services
At the February 16, 2018 Board of Education meeting, Ms. Suzanne Nissen was approved as our new Director of Student Services for the 2018-2019 school year. She will be replacing Mrs. Galan.
Ms. Nissen has a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Educational Leadership from Aurora University.  She did her coursework for her Directorship of Special Education at the University of St. Francis.  During her career in education, she has served as a Resource Teacher, Instructional Teacher, College Instructor, Special Education Coordinator, Assistant Director of Student Services, Assistant Director of Special Education and a Director of Student Services. She has been recognized and received awards four times for her performance working in the field of special education/student services. Her proudest achievement includes the development and implementation of the supported service delivery model which has afforded students with special needs to be included in the general education classroom with their peers to the greatest extent possible to meet their needs.
We look forward to welcoming and collaborating with Ms. Nissen!
Thank you to our interview committee, which was comprised of licensed professionals, classified staff, administrators, community partners and parents for participating in the interview process. It was an extensive and thorough process that required late nights. We thank you for supporting us in our recruitment and hiring efforts!
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Galan for all of her hard work, accomplishments and connections made with our students, parents and community. Even though we will continue to see Mrs. Galan in the buildings, we will miss her great sense of humor at the district office.
Extended School Year  - UPDATE in Location
There has been a change in location for all D33 summer programming.  Due to work being done is all District 33 schools over the summer; all summer programming has been moved to Currier Elementary School. 
Extended school year is offered for students with disabilities who meet the eligibility requirements.  Over breaks from school, such as summer and winter break, it is not uncommon for students to regress or lose some of their learning.  Extended school year is for students who take longer than other students to regain learning. At a child's yearly IEP meeting, extended school year eligibility is discussed.  
Extended School Year Program– Summer 2018
Monday through Thursday
8:30am – 11:30am 
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - Wednesday, July 18, 2018
There will be no school July 4th or 5th.  
January 2018
Extended School Year
Extended school year is offered for students with disabilities who meet the eligibility requirements.  Over breaks from school, such as summer and winter break, it is not uncommon for students to regress or lose some of their learning.  Extended school year is for students who take longer than other students to regain learning. At a child's yearly IEP meeting, extended school year eligibility is discussed.  
Extended School Year Program– Summer 2018
Monday through Thursday
8:30am – 11:30am
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - Wednesday, July 18, 2018
There will be no school July 4th or 5th. 
A change this year is that the extended school year program will be held at two different schools: 

=        Grades PreK through 2nd will attend classes at Trinity Preschool located at 331 George Street. 

=        Grades 3 through 8 will attend at Leman Middle School. 

December 2017
Transition to High School 
Transition planning is happening for our eighth graders who receive special education services.  On Tuesday, February 27 at 7PM, parents and current eighth graders who are receiving special education services are invited to Leman Middle School to learn about high school.  Information will be shared on registering, daily schedules and other topics that may interest you or your eighth grader.  This night is meant for parents of students who receive special education services.  Flyers will be coming home soon!normal;background:white'> normal;background:white'> 

Special Education Services

Special education services are available to meet the unique learning needs of eligible students. West Chicago School District uses universal screeners for all students to determine if there are any academic or social emotional concerns present. We are moving towards a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) to provide students identified by the screeners extra supports and services to bring performance levels to those of their peers. In some cases schools may choose to do an evaluation to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. If it is determined that the student is eligible for special education, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed and implemented


When students are identified as eligible for special education services, academic, social emotional, motor, health, and speech /language learning needs are identified, goals are written, and services determined. When determining services and placement in classes, the least restrictive environment (LRE) is considered. We believe that the LRE for most students is the general education classroom. Some students, however, require more support from a special education teacher for their identified areas of deficit. When a student is in the general education class for the majority of the day, we describe the special education services as a "resource" level of support. For those students who require special education services for a majority of their school day, we describe the special education services as an "instructional" level of support.

 November 2017

 Self-Contained Programming

 District 33 has a variety of programming to meet the needs of special learners:

  • Primary Autism Classroom
  • Intermediate Autism Classroom
  • Multi-Learner Program
  • Successful Transition Education Program (S.T.E.P) 

Primary/Intermediate Autism Classroom – Located in Indian Knoll School  

As the name implies, these classrooms service children with autism who need a very structured environment as well as direct and individualized instruction. 

Multi-Learner Program – Located in Indian Knoll School

This program serves students with intellectual disabilities and utilizes small group, repetitive instruction.  They also infuse daily life skills as needed, such as brushing teeth and combing hair as part of the day. 


This program is located in Pioneer School and this year serves second through fourth graders.  This classroom is highly structured and has daily lessons in social emotional learning taught by the social worker and psychologist.   The goal for students in this classroom is to learn how to cope with the daily ups and down of life in an effective manner.  



District 33 is fortunate to have a nurse in all school buildings.  Our building nurses are either registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practitioner nurses (LPNs). The nurse is there to treat children if they become ill or injured.  They also give students any required medications.  Our nurses care for children with diabetes, seizures, allergies and a variety of other illness.  They accompany students on field trips as needed to ensure our students have access to emergency care if needed while away from school.   We are proud to say we have three district nurses who oversee the building nurses.  Our district nurses have additional schooling that gives them expertise to make educational decisions about students and their medical needs.  Our nurses in District 33 are top notch and we are proud to have them service our students!  Next time you are in your child’s building, stop by the health office and meet our great nurses!  

October 2017

Department Overview

The primary focus of the Department of Student Services is supporting the unique needs of each individual learner to insure success at school. The Department of Student Services is responsible for a variety of programs and services including 504 plans, Special Education, Student Records, physicals, immunization, and health screenings. This department includes the following positions: Psychologists, Social Workers, Speech Pathologists, Nurses and Health Aides.

Department Welcomes New Coordinator

The Department of Student Services welcomed the talented Lori Coomes to join our administrative team as the new Coordinator of Student Services.

Since beginning Ms. Coomes has created some new opportunities for team building within the department including:

· Professional learning teams with job-alike groups within student services.
· Monthly meetings with psychologists, social workers, facilitators and speech pathologists.
o The time is structured to work on job alike issues as well as sharing resources, learning new things and working to strengthen how they team.
· Smaller school based meetings
o Opportunity to build high functioning teams at the building level for student services

We are looking forward to staff feeling the benefit of having the coordinator position. We want them to feel their concerns are addressed quickly, they are supported in their day to day duties and they are able to build strong teams within the buildings.

Piloting New Math Resource Called Equals Math

· Used with our students who are highly discrepant and intellectually impaired.
· Very interactive and hands-on for students.
· Piloted at Leman, Indian Knoll, Pioneer and Wegner.

Awesome Feedback!

LMS Teacher: “It's so great... I'm so in love with this program! And I'm loving watching my kids use the manipulatives and process through the problems, especially when they get them right, but even when they get them wrong. Thank you for offering this to me this year! I couldn't have asked for a better program!”

Parent: “I cannot believe what my daughter was able to show. I was amazed at how she was able to use things to show math processes even though she could not verbally say them.”

One of our teachers, Samantha Crouse, even made it into the company’s newsletter. She impressed them with how she set up her math center for students. They highlighted her organization in the September monthly newsletter.

© 2015 West Chicago School District 33 | 312 East Forest Avenue, West Chicago, IL 60185 | Phone: 630.293.6000