Garden City's Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) office is here to help. PPS provides district-wide health services, psychological and social work services, speech and language services, and special education programs and services. The Board of Education appoints the Committee on Special Education (CSE), the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), and the Subcommittees on Special Education, all of which are under the auspices of PPS. These committees make recommendations to the Board of Education for specialized programs and services for children with special needs who live in or attend school within the Garden City School District.

Be sure to also visit our District's PPS webpage here.

 Click below for the




Lynette Abruzzo Director of Pupil Personnel Services 478-1050


Eleni Chronas  Interim Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services 478-1050


Dr. Kelly Spagnola School Psychologist, CSE (Committee on Special Education) Chairperson 478-1050


Stacey Esmond School Psychologist, CPSE (Committee on Preschool Special Education) Chairperson 478-1050


Subcommittee Chairpersons


Mandi Stefankiewicz, Psychologist 478-2000


Monica Saavedra, Psychologist 478-1400/1600/1700


Kady Burke, Psychologist 478-3000


Dr. Melina Mendelson, Psychologist 478-2000/3000


Dr. Happy Arstark, Psychologist 478-1050/1800


Dr. Gina Tornincaso, Psychologist 478-1400


Dr. Jaclyn Shlisky, Psychologist 478-1050/1400


Danielle Warnke, Psychologist 478-1500


Each Committee on Special Education (CSE) includes a psychologist, a general education teacher, a special education teacher, and the parent of the child. For the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), a representative of the municipality, and, for a child in transition from early intervention upon parent request, an appropriate professional from the age birth-to-3 agency are included.


Special Education for Private and Parochial Schools

Parents of students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and who enroll their child in a non-public school (both private and parochial) where they are paying tuition, must notify the school district where the non-public school is located, in writing, no later than June 1st before the school year in which services are to be provided, that they are requesting special education services.


Child Find Procedures

School Age Children (ages 5 to 21): If you suspect that your school-age child has a disability, contact the school psychologist in your childa's school or Pupil Personnel Services (478-1050). Preschool Children (ages 3 to 5): If you suspect that your preschool child has developmental delays, contact Pupil Personnel Services (478-1050). For a list of Special Education Evaluations click here sp_ed_evaluations.




Any specific elopement concerns regarding your child should be discussed directly with the district and addressed at your IEP meetings. Please call Pupil Personnel Services at 516-478-1050 for further clarification.


As parents, we found this article very educational. Here below, we have included a portion for your reference.


Autism and Wandering Prevention Tips NAA-wandering-one-sheeter-quick-tips


First Responders Toolkit: A Guide to Searching for Missing Persons on the Autism Spectrum


The SPECTRUM Alert: 8 Steps Schools Can Take to Prevent Autism-Elopement Tragedy By Leigh Merryday


Today, one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism. Statistically, half of them will elope, and more than a third cannot effectively communicate their name, address, or phone number. (An even higher percentage will struggle with communication beyond this.) And autistic children are often drawn to water. Of the children who are found dead as a result of elopement, 91 percent will be found in water


If a school district plan to address autistic elopement is merely to wait for it to happen and call police, they are planning for tragedy. After consulting with both local law enforcement and Jerry Turning of Police and Autism: Bridging the Gap, here is a protocol I'm suggesting to my child's school district. I'm calling it the SPECTRUM Alert for Schools. It's important to note that this alert/code will necessarily look different for each school. To be effective, it must be planned by individual schools based upon their location, size, design, proximity to water, etc. The SPECTRUM Alert is not a ready-made plan but a roadmap for designing one.

S (Search grid): In conjunction with law enforcement, the school and surrounding community should be mapped out on a search grid. If the school is fenced in, there should be a perimeter walk to determine any areas vulnerable to elopement. From there, the grid should expand outward, taking into account any and all bodies of water, intersections, train stations, parks, playgrounds, etc. Staff should have already practiced reporting to their assigned search areas. Note: Water should always be searched first.

P (Pre-identification): Each child prone to elopement should have on file a quick-reference sheet. This should be compiled by the school with the assistance of parents and possibly personnel who have worked with the child previously. It should contain the following information:

  • Identifying information

  • Presence of GPS tracking technology

  • Current photograph

  • Childa's level of communication

  • Childa's interests, behaviors, preferences, aversions, etc.

  • Health considerations

  • List of possible locations the child might go within the search grid


E (Law Enforcement liaison): One person's job should be to call law enforcement immediately. This person should also contact parents immediately. The liaison could then activate a phone tree already created by parents. That phone tree might include family and friends willing to assist a search. The child is likely to know them and may respond to them more easily.

C (Code): All schools have alert codes. Everyone knows how to respond to each code. A code should be called on the intercom. Teachers should be instructed to quickly look into the hallway and out windows and alert the office if they see the child in question. In upper grades, it might also be possible to have students assist in a search on school grounds in teams.

T (Training): All school personnel and school-resource officers should receive training in autism. Training can often ward off elopement incidents to begin with. Training should include information in sensory-integration disorder, social difficulties, literal thinking, triggers for meltdowns and elopement, law-enforcement considerations, food aversions, bullying and autism, and self-stimulation.

R (Relationships): Police should be encouraged to develop positive relationships with autistic students, who are often very literal in their thinking and may fear police based upon what they may have seen on TV. Classroom visits in non-emergency situations should occur so that in an emergency, these students will not fear police and jeopardize their recovery.

U (Understanding): Common triggers that distress autistic children should be understood by all staff, including substitutes and volunteers. By stressing the understanding component of this plan, schools can often avoid situations that might prompt an autistic student to elope from school. Because special events in gyms, auditoriums, and cafeterias are often painful to the senses of autistic students, there should be a plan to avoid subjecting them to trauma. This component is the most powerful part of this plan, though it's the least understood. Effective training can make elopement not happen.

M (Media): Radio, television, and social media are powerful when it comes to locating missing children. A media strategy should be considered by the school district and law enforcement. The SPECTRUM Alert protocol would cost a school district little money. Most of it involves planning with personnel already on the payroll. It's simply a matter of a school making the choice to plan for an elopement incident and putting it into practice.