Inclusive Classrooms

In recent years, improved teaching methods have helped millions of American children with special needs reach new academic heights.

At Pan American Academy Charter School we take an individualized  approach with students to prepare them to be bilingual, internationally minded inquirers.

The purpose of this section is to outline:

If you feel that your child may be an English Learner, please contact Dean of Language Hannah Myers.

We adhere to the philosophy that each student with a disability or English Learner is entitled to receive a stellar education, in the least restrictive environment appropriate for meeting their needs.

The special education staff, in conjunction with classroom teachers, administration, therapists, school nurse, and other educational personnel, have a commitment to ensure each student enrolled is afforded the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) requisite to realizing their full potential.

Pan American Academy Charter School provides equal access to a quality education, enabling English Learners to progress academically while they are learning English. We aim to create a learning environment that values each student’s native language and cultural heritage. If you feel that your child may be in need of special education services, please contact the Director of Specialized Services at 215-425-1212.

Special Education Services

This is only a summary of the Special Education services, evaluation and screening activities, and rights and protections pertaining to children with disabilities. For more information or to request evaluation or screening of a Pan American student, contact the Director of Specialized Services by calling 215-425-1212.

About Our Students

Approximately 20% of our student population receives support through our Specialized Services program either through IDEA (Special Education) or Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973). The purpose of this section is to outline (1) the types of disabilities that might qualify students for programs and services, (2) the process by which we screen and evaluate students to determine eligibility, (3) the special education program and related services that are available, and (4) the special rights that pertain to such children and their parents or legal guardians.

Annual Child Find

Pan American Academy Charter School conducts Annual Child Find to gather information that will be used to determine if your child does in fact need special education and if so what types of services are needed. Your child may be referred for an initial evaluation in two ways: you may ask the school to evaluate your child at any time or the school may contact you to ask permission to have your child evaluated. Consent must be given by you, the parent in writing before school officials can proceed.

Referral of Students for Screening & Evaluation

If a disability is suspected, teachers, other school personnel or parents may refer a child for screening and/or evaluation. Parents suspecting that a child may have a disability and need special education can request a screening or evaluation at any time by contacting their school principal. Screening activities include: reviewing immediately available data sources such as health records, parent interview and history; functional vision and hearing evaluations; determining the student’s response to attempted remediation; and speech and language screenings are completed on request. If the screening leads to a recommendation for evaluation, the evaluation team will conduct the evaluations. No evaluations may be conducted without written parental permission from the parent.

Types of Qualifying Disabilities

Special education services are available to children who have one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities:

  • autism
  • deaf/blindness
  • emotional disturbance
  • hearing impairment
  • intellectual disability
  • multiple disabilities
  • orthopedic impairment
  • other health impairment
  • specific learning disability
  • speech or language impairment
  • traumatic brain injury
  • visual impairment
Related Services & Special Education Programming

Related services such as Occupational Therapy, Orientation and Mobility, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Counseling, Transportation, and Health Services (School Nurse Services) are also available to students when appropriate to meet their needs.

Special education services are delivered in a multitude of models including resource support, co-teaching, and itinerant support.

The special education program will be completely developed by the IEP team. The law requires that children with disabilities be placed in situations that will give them as many opportunities as appropriate to be with students who are not disabled. This is called placing the student in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The LRE is the general education classroom with supports and services unless the IEP team determines that the special needs of the child cannot be met there.

Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973)

Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.

Referral Process:

A teacher or parent may refer a student for a 504 evaluation if the student has a documented diagnosis of a mental or physical impairment. An evaluation (reviewof records, progress, concerns) is conducted by a 504 Committee to determine eligibility (includes a substantial limitation of a life’s activity). A Service Plan is developed by the 504 Committee affording accommodations for the specified areas of need.

Rights & Protections

Prior Written Notice: The public school must notify you in writing whenever it proposes to initiate or to change the identification, evaluation, educational program or placement of a child or whenever it refuses to initiate or make a change in identification, evaluation, educational program, or placement requested by a parent. Such notice must be accompanied by a written description of the reasons for the proposal or refusal, the options considered, if any, and the reason why such options were rejected.

Consent: The public school cannot proceed with an evaluation or with the initial provision of special education and related services without the written consent of the parent. A public school may not seek a hearing to override the refusal of a parental consent to an initial placement in special education. A public school may override the lack of consent for an initial evaluation by requesting the approval of an impartial hearing officer of judge following a hearing. If the parent fails to respond to a written request for permission to re-evaluate, however, the public school may proceed the proposed revaluation without consent.

Protection in Evaluation Procedure: Evaluations to determine eligibility and current need for special education and related services must be administered in a manner that is free of racial, cultural, or linguistic bias. Evaluations cannot consist of a single test or assessment and testing must be a valid measure of the psychological, social, emotional or other learning characteristic or behavior that the school is using it to measure. Testing and assessment must be administered in accordance with professional standards and the criteria established by the publisher. It must be administered in the native language of the child.

Confidentiality: The records and documents that are part of the evaluation and screening process areconfidential and protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Your consent must be obtained before personally identifiable information is released, except as permitted under FERPA. Each participating agency must protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information at collection, storage, disclosure, and destruction stages. For additional information related to student records, the parent can refer to FERPA.

Language Learners

If you feel that your child may be an English Learner, please contact Dean of Language Hannah Myers.

About Our Students
Approximately 20% of our students are English Learners (ELs) and are predominantly from Spanish-speaking backgrounds.
Program Models

The program model(s) used to provide language instruction is commensurate with each student’s proficiency level and includes both direct language instruction and adaptations to instruction and assessment in all content areas.

  1. Dual Language Program · Pan American Academy Charter School implements a 50:50 one-way language immersion program. Approximately fifty percent of students’ courses are conducted in English, the other fifty percent in Spanish. Our one-way language immersion program is comprised predominantly of native English speakers. The goal is to promote biliteracy and instill value in English and Spanish as equal languages.
  2. Push-in · Students are served in the mainstream classroom. A certified language teacher collaborates with the classroom teacher to provide language and content instruction.
  3. Pull-out · Students leave the classroom to receive direct language instruction.
  4. Content-based Instruction · English is adapted to students’ proficiency level and supplemented by sensory, graphic, and interactive supports.
Identification, Placement & Exit

Pan American Academy administers the Home Language Survey to every student upon enrollment. Based on the responses to the home language survey, students may be assessed for potential placement in an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.

Instructional placement is age and grade appropriate. Additionally, English Learners have equal access to all educational programs, opportunities and extracurricular activities in the same manner as for all students.

English Learners remain in the program until they meet the required exit criteria established by the Pennsylvania State Department of Education.

If you feel that your child may be eligible for ESOL services, please contact the school and ask to speak with the ESOL Lead Teacher.