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PA Distance Learning Charter School Serves Students with Speech-Language Needs Using Online Therapy

, Primary Category: Press Releases

SAN FRANCISCO, February 25, 2014 – PA Distance Learning Charter School has chosen PresenceLearning, the leader in online speech therapy and other special education-related services for K-12 students, as part of their mission to provide the best virtual curriculum, instruction and environment to enable all students’ mastery of academic skills. Students with special needs now have the option to receive live support services with the convenience of online delivery instead of needing to coordinate with a complex web of in-person contractors. As a result of their partnership with PresenceLearning, PA District Learning Charter School now offers a more cohesive online learning model and better therapy for students in need.

“We are a cyber-school without any satellite offices so everything we do is online,” said Jamie Desrochers, director of Special Education at the PA Distance Learning Charter School. “Moving from in-home therapy to online speech therapy was a natural transition because of how we are currently delivering instruction.”

PA Distance Learning Charter School currently serves 510 students across Pennsylvania. Approximately 20 percent of these students qualify for special education, with 30 of these students requiring related services such as speech-language, physical therapy and/or occupational therapy. Prior to its use of PresenceLearning, PA Distance Learning Charter School provided these services to students by sending individually contracted therapists to students’ homes or agreed upon location. However, tracking the individual therapists and their schedules, reports and associated fees was becoming difficult to manage.

“We used to have to pull teeth to get progress monitoring reports from many of our contracted in-home therapists,” said Desrochers. “Now we are getting reports from our online therapists without even having to ask. PresenceLearning’s administrator dashboard, SPEDinsight, helps me easily see when a student does not attend a session so I can intervene, as well as see up-to-the-minute student progress and check on other IEP-related processes.”

PA Distance Learning Charter School initially implemented PresenceLearning as pilot with one student in November of 2013, and has since added eight more students to the caseload. The school plans to move a majority of its speech-language caseload to PresenceLearning at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

“Having individually-assigned therapists from one provider is easier and better than managing individual contracts across the state,” said Desrochers. “Although they are not physically present, it is like having our own therapists.”

Since 2009, PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services have provided schools with a practical, affordable new option for service delivery: web-based access to a nationwide network of live, highly qualified, fully licensed speech-language pathologists who are available whenever and wherever they are needed. This past year, PresenceLearning added occupational therapy (OT) and online assessments to their service offering. By partnering with PresenceLearning, school districts can fill staffing gaps related to acute and chronic SLP and OT shortages, reduce high caseloads for onsite personnel, reduce their backlog of assessments, improve student outcomes and become more efficient. PresenceLearning also offers access to technical specialists, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.

By the end of this school year, PresenceLearning will have delivered 450,000 live online therapy sessions in public, charter and virtual school districts of all sizes nationwide.

About PresenceLearning

PresenceLearning ( is the leading provider of live online speech therapy services for K-12 students and now offers online occupational therapy as well. The company offers school districts web-based access to a growing, nationwide network of hundreds of highly qualified speech language pathologists (SLPs) and occupational therapists (OTs) via live videoconferencing combined with the latest in evidence-based practices and powerful progress reporting.

Serving thousands of students in public, charter and virtual schools throughout the U.S., PresenceLearning has shown that online speech and language therapy is practical, affordable and highly effective. PresenceLearning is an ASHA-approved continuing education provider for SLPs and a U.S. Department of Education grant-winner, dedicated to bringing the highest clinical standards to online therapy.


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