Information for Parents of Students with Special Educational Needs



From the Whitman PTSA Students With Accommodations Committee (SWAC), September 2018



PTSA & Students With Accommodations Committee Presentations: PTSA meetings—generally held the third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 pm—usually feature a presentation from an outside speaker following the business portion of the meeting, and many of those presentations are particularly relevant to families of students with special needs. The October meeting, for instance, traditionally examines SAT vs. ACT testing and features information on applying for accommodations for the college admissions tests. In addition, SWAC organizes presentations aimed more specifically at families of students with accommodations at Whitman, including on our annual “Navigating Whitman” session (typically held in the early fall), as well as potential presentations this year on the in’s and out’s of psycho-educational testing and state graduation testing requirements. If you have an idea for a topic/speaker you’d like to see covered in one of these presentations, please contact one of the SWAC members listed below.


Bookshare is a free resource for students with a wide variety of reading, language, and print disabilities, giving them access to thousands of books for downloading. In addition to other tools, Bookshare provides books in in high-quality text-to-speech form, so students can see and hear words as they are being read and highlighted. More information at To complete the paperwork to get a Bookshare account for a Whitman student, contact Cindy Williams, 301-320-6570 or


Whitman Tip Sheets: Find informative tip sheets and notes from speakers presentations under the PTSA tab on the Whitman website.

Go to to download a list of academic interventions available for each subject, information about technology to enhance reading and executive functioning skills, college advice for students with accommodations, and a slew of tip sheets, including one on testing accommodations.




Case Manager: All students with an IEP have a case manager, who should have contacted families the week before school began. The case manager makes sure the IEP is implemented, monitors goals and accommodations, and informs teachers about students in their classes and their accommodations.


Counselor: All students are assigned a guidance counselor, who monitors student credits, scheduling, four-year plan, accommodations for students with 504 plans, and any issues that need counseling support. Contact the counselor if a schedule needs to be changed. (This typically must be done within the first three weeks of each semester, though exceptions can be made for IEP-related reasons.) For more information, see the tip sheet “Talk to your Counselor When…” on the Whitman website. *


Teachers: Contact teachers for issues related to class work and assignments. For more information, see the tip sheet “Talk to your Teacher When…” on the Whitman website.*


If Problems Arise: Contact Whitman staff in the following order as necessary. Always include the case manager in any correspondence. Email is recommended as the fastest means of communication. (Online staff directory at  

First level: The student is encouraged to contact the appropriate staff in person or by email.

Second level: The parent can send an email, call, or request an in-person meeting.

Third level: If the issue persists, include in the correspondence the department chair (listed in the staff directory as the subject resource teacher). Diane Long is the head of the Special Education Department and Frances Landau is the head of the Guidance Department.

Fourth level: Contact the assistant principal who oversees special education. If the problem is not specific to an individual student or if you would like informal advice, please contact one of the SWAC members listed below.



Classroom Level: Case managers provide teachers with a list of accommodations for each student in their classes, but high school students are encouraged to remind teachers and staff of their accommodations when necessary. The school expects that teachers will provide required accommodations, but if issues arise, families should contact the case manager for students with IEPs or the guidance counselor for students with 504 plans.


County/State/National Testing: The assistant principal in charge of special education and school test coordinator, ensures that accommodations are in place and any required special materials have been ordered and received for testing accommodations for county-wide final exams, High School Assessments (HSAs), and PARCC tests. For the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and AP tests, the counselors and case managers work with parents to ensure they request submission of proof of the need for accommodations and complete the paperwork to send to the testing services. For students with IEPs, this often occurs during the IEP meeting in 9th grade. The College Board and the ACT make their own determinations on accommodations for their tests, and the school must follow the accommodations approved by those bodies for their tests. For more information see the tip sheet “Testing Accommodations for Students with IEPs, etc.” on the Whitman website.*


* Go to for all of these tip sheets.  



Please feel free to contact one of us with your ideas and for informal advice:

Susan Emmer ( and Yvonne VanLowe (