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Opinion: Recognizing Norwalk Public Schools SpEd employees

Providing Norwalk Public School staff with professional development opportunities is an important part of achieving goals that align with the Strategic Operating Plan in the area of special education.

The Department of Specialized Services has made it a priority to build capacity within the district to provide excellence in Special Education services to our students with disabilities, including children with autism. A first step was to examine the ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis services being provided by paraprofessionals, including those paras who are employees of the school district as well as those services provided by contractors.

In September, Yvette Goorevitch, chief of specialized learning and student services, established the goal to develop and support 25 Norwalk Public Schools Special Education paraprofessionals, so that they could complete a nationally recognized training program by June 2018. The program leads towards the Registered Behavior Technician certification (RBT). RBTs must complete a 40 hour training program, pass a competency assessment by the District’s supervising BCBAs, and then pass the RBT examination sponsored by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

RBTs must display competence in data collection, including data graphing and assisting with functional behavior assessments. They implement ABA programs including discrete trial training, prompt fading, and procedures to implement generalization strategies. They assist families to implement procedures across settings and implement positive behavior plans to reduce externalizing behaviors. RBTS are also responsible for delivering effective communication to the BCBA and teaching team.

On Tuesday, the Board of Education will be proud to honor the first of our paraprofessionals who have successfully completed this process and are now registered behavior technicians. Lorraine Montross, Kristina Paolini, Jenna Follis, David Lindsay and Janine Testa have successfully completed this process and are now registered behavior technicians. All five work at NECC, and most are long-term employees. With support from the district, they invested their time to fulfill this substantial commitment. Their work included taking part in 40 hours of training consisting of computer led instruction, supervision by a BCBA and competency tests.

The Board of Education is also proud to honor Special Education Administrator Maureen Sullivan at NECC and BCBA Tiva Rushford for their professional leadership and support throughout the process.

These individuals represent a long-term commitment to build capacity within our district. They are leading the way for dozens of their colleagues, and we congratulate them and thank them for their contributions.

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