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North Colonie welcomes new director of pupil services

"This district is one of the best models of inclusion," he said, commenting that the district's great system of support is a huge contributor. "So, it really takes a director who has a real broad view of education."

Semo said the district was recognized two years ago for its inclusion programs and services with a state grant in the amount of about $700,000 that will run out at the end of this year. The grant was only awarded to 60 New York schools, he said.

Semo said he is not afraid that the quality of programs and services will dwindle after the grant money has run out because there are already plans in place to continue the services. This includes the district's hiring of a transition coordinator who will work with special education students to help them transition into college, job readiness, job training and job placements.

The district is also looking into starting up a program with a nearby college or university that would have special education students spend time in college classrooms, observing and getting a feel for the college experience as to ease the transition when it comes time for the student to actually attend college themselves. Semo said this program most likely won't be finalized and begin before the fall 2010 school year.

"I always look to, 'How do we keep moving forward with inclusion?'" Semo said. "I'm always looking to expand and improve."

The North Colonie Central School District does have a Special Education Parent Teacher Association, and though the SEPTA is not connected with what Semo's office does, several times a year he does make presentations to the SEPTA about what the district is working on to ensure and improve inclusion for special education students in the district.

"It's important for the students because it allows them to be part of the North Colonie community," he said. "And I think that's critical.""

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