School District opens evaluation centers for special needs students

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By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The School District of Philadelphia is opening six centers where students with special needs can receive in-person evaluations. The centers are designed to evaluate students who can’t be assessed remotely.

The district has 21,000 special needs students with individualized education plans, or IEPs. Most students have been assessed online this school year. But for about 600 students, their disabilities make an in-person evaluation necessary.

Starting January 25, the district is opening centers at six high schools where school psychologists can assess students In person.   Students arriving at the sites will get a rapid coronavirus test, and school staff will be tested every week. Masks will be required.

The district's deputy chief of the Office of Specialized Services, ShaVon Savage, says the district has begun reaching out to families to schedule appointments for the assessments.

"As we are approaching the one-year mark for the closures, no one could have predicted that we would have stayed closed for this extended period of time," said Savage. "We are now planning forward so that we can begin to really get into the depth of serving students in this new environment."

The centers are opening at West Philadelphia High School, the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, Martin Luther King High School, Thomas Edison High School, Strawberry Mansion High School and the Creative and Performing Arts High School.

Savage said while the centers are open initially for assessments, it's likely they'll remain open to provide additional services.