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Gary Rooney

Program Specialist for Special Education


At Waterford USD, we prioritize inclusive education and provide tailored support to meet the unique needs of every child. Our team of dedicated special education professionals collaborates closely with teachers and parents to create individualized education plans (IEPs) that promote academic, social, and emotional growth. Our range of services includes personalized instruction, assistive technology, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral interventions. We strive to foster an inclusive environment where all students can thrive and reach their full potential. Your child's success is our utmost priority, and we look forward to partnering with you on this journey.

Many children are referred for special education by their parents, but in most other cases, children are referred by teachers or other school officials. After a child is referred, specialists conduct a formal evaluation to determine whether (1) the child has a disability and (2) the disability significantly interferes with the child’s ability to learn. Children that meet both of these requirements qualify for special education.

Special Education Defined

Special Education means specifically designed instruction and related services, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique educational needs of individuals with exceptional needs, whose educational needs cannot be completely met with modification of the general instructional program. Special Education provides a full continuum of program options to meet the educational and service needs of individuals with exceptional needs in the least restrictive environment. This instruction can include a special education classroom, resource specialist program, general education setting, pull-out program, home instruction, instruction in hospital and institutions, and other settings, and instruction in physical education. (Ed. Code 56031, CFR Part 300.26)

Special Education Criteria

  1. Hard of Hearing

  2. Deaf-Blindness

  3. Deafness

  4. Speech or Language Impairment

  5. Visual Impairment

  6. Orthopedic Impairment

  7. Autism Spectrum Disorder

  8. Intellectual Disability

  9. Emotional Disturbance

  10. Specific Learning Disability

  11. Traumatic Brain Injury

  12. Other Health Impairment

  13. Multiple Disabilities

Parent Rights

Federal law generally requires districts to serve students with disabilities in whichever educationally appropriate setting offers the most opportunity to interact with peers who do not have disabilities. For students with relatively mild disabilities, this typically means receiving instruction in mainstream classrooms. For students with relatively severe disabilities, this may mean receiving most of their instruction in special day classrooms (which exclusively serve students with disabilities) but participating in lunch or recess alongside students who do not have disabilities. As with all elements of a child’s IEP, the least restrictive environment must be determined collaboratively by each student’s parents, teachers, and district administrators.

Perhaps the most notable feature of California special education law is its requirement that school districts participate in a SELPA. Each SELPA is tasked with developing a plan for delivering special education services. Small and mid‑sized districts form regional SELPAs to coordinate their special education services. At Waterford USD, we are part of the Stanislaus County SEPLA region. You can view our SELPA budget and public hearing information through the link provided on the left.