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Allison Strand, Executive Director of Special Education 
(631) 592-3045
Sheri Keller, Coordinator of Preschool Special Education and Related Services
(631) 592-3047
Brenda Friedland, Coordinator of Elementary Special Education
(631) 592-3047
Daniel Helmes, Coordinator of Middle School Special Education
(631) 592-3047
Michelle Melfi, Coordinator of High School Special Education
(631) 592-3047

Special Education encompasses a comprehensive array of services, instructional methodologies, materials and equipment to provide students with disabilities additional educational support.  Special education services are uniquely applied to each individual in purpose, content, delivery, mode, intensity and duration.  Such services are recommended by the Committee on Special Education and an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is then developed based on a student’s present level of performance and individual needs.


The IEP is developed by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of the child’s teacher, school psychologist, special education teacher, related service providers, and input from the parent.  The IEP includes specific goals and objectives, as well as any modifications and/or testing accommodations, that the child may need to perform in his or her current setting.  Students with disabilities are placed in the least restrictive setting and integrated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent possible, based on each student’s individual needs.  Currently, 95% of our students with disabilities are integrated in our district schools, with 5% receiving their education in schools outside the district, such as BOCES and special day and residential schools.


Program Highlights


Staff Development

Staff participated in the following workshops:

  •       Teacher mentoring program for new teachers
  •       New teacher & probationary teacher training
  •       Continued IEP training
  •       Implementation of instructional modifications and testing accommodations
  •       Half Hollow Hills IEP computer program
  •       Common Core Instruction
  •       Best practices in reading, writing and math instruction
  •       Positive classroom environment
  •       Specialized reading programs   
  •       Person centered planning
  •       Positive behavioral support techniques
  •       Learning strategies
  •       Differentiating instruction


In addition, special education paraprofessionals receive ongoing in-service training on a series of topics relating to their role in the classroom:

  •       Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBAs) and Behavioral Intervention Program (BIPs)
  •       Social skills training
  •       Disability awareness
  •       Positive behavioral support techniques
  •       Positive classroom environment
  •       Understanding the IEP

Autism Staff Development/Parent Training


The number of students with autism moving from the elementary level to the secondary level has increased.  Special education teachers, general education teachers, school psychologists, related service providers, and paraprofessionals who work with children on the autism spectrum, and parents of students on the spectrum, all received ongoing training.  Special education paraprofessionals are provided with in-service training on a series of topics relating to their roles in the classroom.


Bi-weekly intensive training sessions are available for parents with children on the autism spectrum provided by district behavioral consultants.  Topics are varied and parent requests are instrumental in topic selection.  Child specific parent training which is mandated by a child’s IEP is provided regularly and is quite successful. There is additional comprehensive training for general education teachers planning to have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in their class.


Assistive Technology


An assistive technology consultant provides services to students with disabilities requiring assistive service in special education with ongoing student, staff, and parent training.




Workshops are held for staff to assist students in making transitions.  Students gain an understanding of their disability, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to self-advocate.  Person Centered Planning is a major focus in working with students with disabilities.  In addition, several work opportunities are offered to the special education students entering 9th grade.  Students work on pre-vocational skills in the classroom, go on community field trips and participate in internships at various community sites.  The Employment Training Program (ETP) offers students after-school and summer paid work experience with vocational counselor support for non-regents students prior to transitioning to the adult world.



Transition Parent Meetings

  •        Parent tea is held for parents of all preschoolers with disabilities, who are transitioning to kindergarten, to familiarize them with the district’s special education services and CSE process.  A power point presentation of the district’s special education kindergarten program was presented by special education administrators.
  •     "Getting Ready for Middle School" and "Getting Ready for High School" meetings offer parents the opportunity to meet with building staff to learn about their different roles, as well as the programs/services available at the secondary level.


Clinical Sports, Recreational Sports, and Adaptive Swim Program


Clinical sports (grades K-2) and Recreational Sports (grades 3-5) are after school adaptive sports programs focusing on skill acquisition in gross motor, social, and behavioral development.  Physical education teachers and paraprofessionals provide positive learning experiences for students with disabilities.  The adaptive swim program, held bi-weekly at High School West, is available for our students who receive adaptive physical education as part of their special education program.

The Half Hollow Hills Central School District offers educational, vocational, nonacademic, and extracurricular opportunities without regard to gender, race/ethnicity, or disability.   



Student Support Services

  • Behavioral Consultant
  • Guidance Counselor
  • School Psychologist
  • School Social Worker
  • Transition Coordinator
  • Vocational Counselor




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