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Special Education

Welcome to the Department of Special Education



Main Phone: 412-731-1300

Dial number above and then the individual extension numbers after the main phone number.

Fax:  412-271-1595


Director of  Special Education

Mrs. Jennifer L. Johnson, MSIMH

Ext. 0136


Coordinator of Special Education

Ms Pamela Zackel, M. Ed.

Ext. 0135


Administrative Secretary

Ms. Gina Dearden
Ext. 0147


Ms. Lisa Shandrick
Ext. 0152




Woodland Hills School District provides a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) to exceptional students consistent with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 (P.L. 108-446) and Reauthorization 2006.  To qualify as an exceptional student, the child must be of school-age, in need of specially designed instruction, and meet eligibility criteria for one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities, Autism, Deaf-Blindness, Deafness ,Emotional Disturbance, Hearing Impairment including Deafness, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment ,Traumatic Brain Injury, Visual Impairment including Blindness, and in the case of a child that is of pre-school age- Developmental Delay.


Identification procedures ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate program consisting of individualized special education and related services.  At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with local,state and federal law and planned to ensure meaningful educational benefit and student progress.


  To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities may include: hearing, vision, physical and speech/language screening; a review of group-based data (cumulative academic records, ability and achievement test scores, enrollment records, report cards, and health records); and a review by the building-level team.  When screening results suggest that a student may need special education services, Woodland Hills School District will, with written informed parent consent, conduct an evaluation. 


Parents who suspect their child may need special education services may also submit a written request for an evaluation to the school principal in any of our buildings.


  Services designed to meet the needs of exceptional students include: a timely evaluation and the annual development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Parents are considered to be an integral and equal partner in the IEP process. We strongly recommend that you attend or participate in all IEP meetings.  If you are unable to participate in person,alternative means of participation are acceptable such as a phone conference, video conference,etc. Woodland Hills School District will make every effort to ensure parent participation and satisfaction.


 The extent of special education services and the location for the delivery of those services are determined by the IEP team and based on several factors, primarily upon the student’s identified needs and abilities.  Consideration is also given to the student’s chronological age and level of intensity of the specified intervention.  The district provides supplementary aids and services, such as transportation, physical therapy,occupational therapy, and a full gamit of classroom and other setting accommodations and modifications as necessary for the student to benefit from the regular education and special education program.


   Parents may obtain additional information about special education services and programs and parental due process rights by contacting the child’s school principal or the Special Education Office at 412-731-1300 ext. 0141 or 0147.


We are very pleased to share with you that we successfully operated our own WOODLAND HILLS ESY (EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR) this past school year for our students who qualified.  We  provided a four- week ESY program totaling 80 hours of service. As we begin another year of planning our program,please stay tuned to our work scheduled dates so that you can be a part of this exciting program and help us plan!

Please read the summary below.

As we prepare for our 2nd year, we will offer the schedule below:

Student Time:8:00AM-12:30PM

Staff Time: 7:45AM-12:45PM(several full days for field trip/enrichment activities)


Beginning the 1st week  after July 4th







During the summer of 2016, Woodland Hills School District opened their doors to our “Wolverines” who qualified for Extended School Year.  These students were offered special education and related services in order to ensure their provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

During our kick off year, everyone participated in fun and motivating activities that addressed each student’s individualized academic, social/emotional, and/or behavioral goals.  Teachers used creative hands-on activities such as building bird houses to combine creative math and science experiences. Teachers also embedded sensory alerting strategies such as music to engage students in their learning process.  As the month of July progressed, the learning process for the students went beyond the classroom walls.  We were able to incorporate on-campus fieldtrip experiences with the Humane Society and Swissvale Fire Department.  Students were able to learn about their community and experience the pride of learning that former “Wolverines” are participating members of these community agencies. 

As we concluded our first district ESY program, we were able to see a spark of excitement in the eyes of all those who participated.  Teachers were planning ideas for next year, students were asking if the program would continue to be here next year, and positive parent comments could be heard about the length of the program day, the structure, and delight they could see in their child both before and after each ESY day. 

During the 2016-2017 school year, we will continue to assess all strengths and needs of our first year in order to continue to build our ESY program. On an  administrative level, we would like thank the following: the school board for giving us the opportunity to start our program; the parents for allowing their children to participate;  the students for coming to the program;  and finally to all the faculty, staff, bus drivers, monitors and food service for helping us create a wonderful first year!



  • Implementation of co-teaching model
  • Daily administrative program supervision
  • Overall positive transportation service delivery
  • Good teacher use of technology integration
  • Provision of related services including…
    • Therapeutic
    • Speech/language
    • Nursing
    • Occupational/Physical Therapy


ESY 2015-2016 School Year

Our AWESOME students had fun!!!





Special Education & Pupil Personnel Services Board Committee Meeting


Community Royalty Free Stock Image







Meeting Dates:





It would be a pleasure to have YOU join us for presentations and discussions about our Special Education services. Come and learn about all of the quality programs and services for our kids in the school district. Meetings are held in our administration building located at 531 Jones Avenue, North Braddock, PA ,15104. If you are seeking out more information about special education topics,this can be an excellent professional development opportunity as it is very informative and enriching. Our parents are strongly encouraged to attend.






National Birth Defects Prevention Month 

Poverty in America Awareness Month

Self-Help Group Awareness Month


Black History Month

Human Relations Month

Heart & Stroke Awareness Month

Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Month and Low Vision Month

World Cancer Day

National Boost Your Self-Esteem Month


Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Month and Low Vision Month-For more information,go to www.preventblindness.org

National Self-Injury Awareness Month

Epilepsy Month

Easter Seals Month


Autism Awareness Month 

The links below will keep you abreast of what’s new in ASD in our region and beyond:


·         Autism Connection of PA – local support group

Autism Connection Spring Conference:http://www.autismofpa.org/spring-conference-2016/

·         AutismSpeaks of PA – local branch of national organization

Broad topics of interest, including free downloadableToolkitswww.AutismSpeaks.org  

·         Autism Society – valuable information plus, links to statistics on the incidence of autism

Resources and links: http://www.autism-society.org/in-the-news/autism-prevalence-rates/   

·         ASERT – Autism Resources site affiliated with the commonwealth of PA

Training modules, upcoming events in the state, and more:http://www.paautism.org/   

·         National Autism Conference – co-sponsored PaTTAN and Penn State, August 1-4, 2016

Comprehensive autism conferencehttp://autism.outreach.psu.edu/   

·         Organization for Autism Research – instructional videos helpful for all ages. Supports quality research.


Free access to tools for classmates and adult learnerswww.researchautism.org   


Youth Homelessness Matters Day


National Gifted Education Awareness Day


Cultural Unity Day 


Better Speech & Hearing Month

Mental Health Month

National Mobility Awareness Month


International Children's Day

World Brain Tumor Day

World Sickle Cell Day

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day


Disabilities Awareness DayNational Birth Defects Prevention Month 

Poverty in America Awareness Month


National Birth Defects Prevention Month 

Poverty in America Awareness Month


National Hydrocephalus Awareness Month 
National Children Cancer Awareness Month
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
National Baby Safety Awareness Month
September 4-World Cerebral Palsy Day

Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Bullying Prevention Month

National Depression Awareness & Education Awareness Month

Spina Bifida Awareness Month

National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Hydrocephalas Day


National Diabetes Awareness Month 

National Prematurity Awareness Month


Universal Human Rights Month




Western PA Newsletter, September-October 2016



Remembering Autism Speaks Co-Founder Suzanne Wright

“What Suzanne Wright has done to raise awareness of autism is immeasurable. Even during the past few difficult months, her determination never wavered." Autism Speaks co-founder Suzanne Wright died on Friday, July 29, 2016 at her home in Fairfield, CT. Suzanne, who fought a courageous nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer, was surrounded by her family at the time of her death. She was 69. Read more about Suzanne's life, and the great legacy she leaves behind.

Pittsburgh Walk Updates

Progress to Goal:
We're still going strong! To date, we have officially raised almost $685,000, getting us closer and closer to our goal of $760,000. Your support is critical to the mission of Autism Speaks to fund research, increase awareness and family services and advocate for individuals with autism and their families. Want to make a post Walk donation, or check out the latest team statistics? Click here to see where you rank, and if you have made it to the new Walk Wall of Fame! We're updating listings frequently to recognize and sincerely thank those teams who have met or exceeded their goals.

2017 Will Be Here Before We Know It – Here’s What’s Coming:
We’re looking forward to our best year yet. In 2017, we will be recognizing the outstanding efforts of our 2016 Teams and Individual Walkers at our new Walk Kickoff and Recognition Luncheon. This allows us the opportunity to recognize and sincerely thank those who have demonstrated commitment to our mission in 2016 in front of a larger audience – which includes the next generation of fundraisers for the Pittsburgh Autism Speaks Walk! Last year, over half of the audience at our kickoff event included new participants who had never attended a Walk event previously. This newly combined ceremony is designed to inspire new donors and showcase the talents of our current Walk community on a much larger scale. As soon as we have a date set, you’ll be the first to know!

Also, the new Walk website will be launching in October! Our new software platform will be easier to navigate as well as offer exciting new features. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Remember, we fundraise throughout the year - and here's more ways you can contribute to the cause!

(*For more details about any event, please contact our office. Some flyers and/or additional information is posted on our social media as details are made available.)

Aleena’s Avengers’ Annual Sporting Clay Shoot
Saturday, September 17, 2016
9:00am Shotgun Start
Email davezalewski@hotmail.com for a brochure and/or to register.
Promise Land Hunting Reserve – Freeport, PA

Autism Speaks FUNdraising Weekend at Triple B Farms
Saturday, September 24, 2016 and Sunday, September 25, 2016
All Proceeds from $20 Build Your Own Scarecrow Activity 
Benefits Autism Speaks Pittsburgh Chapter; Other Daily Admission Rates Apply
Triple B Farms - Monongahela, PA

Following their Beat's Painting With a Purpose 
Sunday, November 6, 2016
BYOB. Pre-sale only. Light refreshments provided. Enter to win prizes! Emailthehowards1029@gmail.com for more information.
Painting With a Twist - Monroeville, PA

Charmed by Charity Soiree with Alex and Ani Pittsburgh
Friday, December 9, 2016
15% of all sales during the event will benefit the Autism Speaks Pittsburgh Chapter
Alex and Ani - Pittsburgh, PA 

Autism Speaks to Young Professionals (AS2YP) Pittsburgh Launch Party Is Days Away - And We're Having a Contest!

Register now for the AS2YP Pittsburgh Launch Party, and enter into a drawing for a chance to win TWO tickets to the 2016 Chefs Create Pittsburgh gala! Only attendees who are pre-registered will be entered for a chance to win.

When: Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Where: Penn Society; 960 Penn Ave; Pittsburgh, PA 15222 
(basement of Ten Penny)
How: Register online today at:
(This event is free to attend)

Autism Speaks to Young Professionals (AS2YP) increases opportunities for individuals in their 20's and 30's to become involved with Autism Speaks. AS2YP supports the Autism Speaks mission through fundraising, social events, volunteer projects, community outreach initiatives, and much more. The group connects members professionally and socially through a number of different events.

If you are interested in learning more, please email Elizabeth Molnar, Manager of Field Development:elizabeth.molnar@autismspeaks.org.

The Deadline Is Near - Apply Today for a Grant from the Autism Speaks Pittsburgh Chapter

The Autism Speaks Family Services Local Grant Applications opened on Monday, July 11, 2016 and closes on Friday, September 23, 2016. Local organizations, schools and summer camps in need of funding to increase services and expand capacity to benefit individuals and families in our local autism community should apply. Have a say in where the dollars that you have worked so hard to fundraise go - please share this information within your networks, and/or apply for funding today!

Fall 2016 Service Provider Round Table Meeting Scheduled



Chef's Create Pittsburgh - November Isn't Far Away

Plans for Chefs Create Pittsburgh are moving right along! Tickets are selling fast for our gala, scheduled on Friday, November 18, 2016 at the Fairmont Pittsburgh. If you haven't purchased yours yet, visit our website by clicking the link above. You can buy tickets directly online! 

At Chefs Create Pittsburgh, we pair over a dozen of Pittsburgh’s finest chefs with an individual on the autism spectrum to create a unique, one of a kind dish in their honor that truly tells a story. An exclusive silent auction and basket raffles are just a few of the many exciting features of this prestigious event. Joining us for 2016 thus far are Aviva Brick Oven, Chartiers Country Club, Coca Cafe, Don's Appliances, Habitat, Papagallo Cucina, Rumfish Grille, Seviche, Sausalido, Ten Penny, and Zuppa's Delicatessen. 

We would also like to take the opportunity to thank our sponsors to date, including Executive Chef Sponsor FedExGround, and Print Sponsor RR Donnelly Pittsburgh. We are so grateful for their commitment.

Interested in getting involved with the planning committee? Want to make a donation? Contact Catherine Hughes, Senior Coordinator of Field Development at catherine.hughes@autismspeaks.org

Lunch and Learns - Book Your Date Today