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Mars Area School District

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Special Education

The Special Education Program of Mars Area School District provides a free, appropriate public education to exceptional students according to state and federal mandates. In compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and directives from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Special Education, the District provides services to students identified as having a disability, which necessitates specialized instruction. Each of our schools continues to implement a continuum of regular and special education services to meet the needs of all students. The continuum includes all levels of special education services based on the individual needs of each student. Mars Area School District serves students in the least restrictive environment, maintaining them in District schools whenever possible. Some students with low incidence disabilities are served by intermediate units, alternative or approved private schools.

Regular and special education classes serve students in kindergarten through age 21 with learning, emotional, social and behavioral needs as well as those with physical or other handicapping conditions. Most exceptional students are assigned to regular homerooms and participate in the general education curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate, based on research based assessment data and as determined by the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). A range of services is also provided for students identified as mentally gifted.

Pre-Referral & Referral Process

When an academic, emotional, social or behavioral concern arises and the student’s needs cannot be met within the regular education continuum of services, the student is referred to the Student Assistance Program. SAP teams may consist of any school staff member, parents, legal guardians, and students.

Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation

If the appropriate pre-referral supports and services are provided with fidelity, and the student is still not demonstrating adequate progress as per research-based data, a student may be referred for multidisciplinary team evaluation. The referral process provides vital information from the pre-referral activities and interventions and leads to the formulation of questions to be addressed in the evaluation. In cases of emergency, the multidisciplinary team evaluation may occur concurrently with other interventions.

Parent permission is required for the multidisciplinary team evaluation process. When assessments are complete, an Evaluation Report (ER) is prepared. The ER guides the Multidisciplinary Team in determining the eligibility for special education services. If the student is determined to be eligible for special education services, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting is held to determine the programming and interventions required to meet the individual student’s needs. The student's program, outlined during the IEP meeting is specified in the written IEP that is provided to the parents. Along with the written IEP, the District sends the parent a Notice of Recommended Placement (NOREP), which must be signed by the parent and returned to the District.

Special Education Plan Report
The following is a DRAFT of the Mars Area School District Special Education Plan Report (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023). 
As required under 22 PA Code § 4.13 (d), Mars Area School District is required to display the proposed Special Education Plan for a period of twenty-eight (28) days for public inspection and comment prior to School Board approval and submission to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (Bureau of Special Education). Mars Area School District is meeting this requirement by displaying a DRAFT of the Special Education Plan on the District's website. Questions or comments may be directed to Mr. Travis W. Mineard, Director of Special Education, at (724) 625-1518, ext.1530, or [email protected].

The following are presentations offered by Mars Area School District's Special Education Department:

Additional Information

The following links provide additional information about Mars Area School District's Special Education programs:

Special Education information must be published periodically, according to state and federal regulations. Questions regarding content, screening, evaluation procedures and/or procedural safeguards may be addressed to Mars Area School District’s Office of Special Education & Gifted Education at (724) 625-1518. Parents/guardians participating in the IEP process are advised to keep a signed and dated copy of the most recent Procedural Safeguard Notice for their records. A copy of the updated notice is posted on the District’s website,