SPED Connection


The spring is always such a busy time of year as I find myself caught somewhere in the middle of trying to wrap things up from the current year while simultaneously trying to plan for next year.  I’m sure you all feel the same way! As I reflect and plan, I have to say I am thankful for the partnerships we share with all of the consortiums. Recently, there have been a few questions that have come up from directors and others in your districts that I’d like to address.

Sharing Students

I’ve been asked on several occasions, “What are the different ways that our district can share special needs students with the RVA?” We are always looking to improve so my typical response has been, “If you have an idea, run it by us and we will see what we can do.”   For those that may not know, there are a number of ways we share students already. Some students, for example, may take a course with the RVA while remaining on-site in their consortium district (we just have to make sure we have room in the live course requested). Other students may attend a half day program in their consortium while spending the other half of the day at home enrolled in RVA courses  (or from their consortium). Other families prefer the option of just attending the RVA all day from home without any onsite services from their consortium district. The RVA is very flexible as we want all students to be successful, recognizing that every student has unique learning needs. If you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can better serve your students, please let me know.

Supporting Services

As we look ahead to the 19-20 school year I wanted to remind our consortiums that the RVA does need your help when providing related services.  Speech, occupational and physical therapy, and adaptive PE are some of the more common services that require greater support and collaboration with the consortiums.  The RVA is limited in its availability to provide these so we rely heavily on your local resources in order to provide related services as a part of a student’s comprehensive educational plan.  

Please also remember that districts are responsible for all initial and reevaluations for special education students.   If you have a unique situation or have limited staff availability we do offer alternate agreements with some districts. In cases such as these the RVA can conduct the necessary testing/evaluations using our traveling school psychologist, Dawn Meissner.  Speech, occupational and physical therapy evaluations are offered via virtual-therapy, a model we have found to be very successful for students. Although this model may make things easier on your end, please also remember that it is something that will be billed back to your district.  We have found this service is most beneficial to those districts who are short on specialists. Please let me know if you have a foreseeable need so that I can begin to make the necessary arrangements.


If you know of a family in your district who would like to enroll in the RVA for next year, please encourage them to enroll as soon as possible.  The earlier a family applies for enrollment in the spring/summer months, the more likely they will be of securing enrollment for the coming school year.  Consortium students do receive preferential placement; however, the number of new enrollments ultimately dictates how many students will have a reserved spot in the fall.  The earlier the RVA receives the enrollment requests, the sooner we can begin to work to ensure we have enough quality staff members to serve all of our students.

As a final note I wanted to remind you to please  inform the RVA as soon as possible if an incoming student has an IEP.  By knowing this we are able to better plan and support that student when we have copies of all the needed documents upfront.  On occasion, families will sometimes indicate on the enrollment form that their child does not have an IEP which creates difficulties for us once we find out.   If you know of a student who may be enrolling with an IEP, please send me a email so that I can be sure no special education students are being missed during the enrollment process.  

Take care and enjoy what’s left of this year………

Athena Podolak