School-age Special Education Services

  • If your child is attending school and you are concerned with his/her academic progress, suspect he/she may have a disability which is impacting his/her progress or have medical or mental health diagnoses which may be affecting his/her learning, please contact a teacher or counselor. School staff members are familiar with the process for referral for a special education evaluation. They are required to conduct at least two changes (interventions) in the student's typical school day. The student's issue may be resolved through simple changes made by the classroom teacher.

    Next steps:
    If these interventions are not successful, it may be advisable to pursue a special education evaluation. Parents are part of this process. Your child's teacher or counselor will contact you to discuss their concerns and their intent to make a referral to the special education evaluation team.

    Parents are invited to a team meeting. The strengths and needs of the student are discussed and a decision is made regarding the need for an evaluation and what areas will be evaluated. This evaluation is at no cost to the parent and requires written parent permission before a student can be evaluated for initial placement in special education.

    Once the evaluation has been completed and summarized, the team, including the parents, meets to review the results. The child's performance is compared to the eligibility criteria provided by the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning. Depending on the nature of the students needs, the team will consider one or more of several areas of disability. These areas of disability include:

    • Developmental/Cognitive Disability
    • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
    • Blind/Visually Impaired
    • Physical Disability
    • Other Health Disability
    • Emotional/Behavioral Disorder
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Specific Learning Disability
    • Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Speech or Language impairments
    • Multiple Disabilities

    Children under the age of seven typically qualify and are served under a more general category of developmental delay.

    Developing a Plan:
    If a student qualifies for services through special education, a team meeting is held to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the student. It contains many components that assure that the student is being provided a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This is a basic tenet of the federal law governing these services. This federal law is known as The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.

    Parents continue to be active members of the special education team that meets at least annually to review the IEP, develop a new IEP and communicate about the progress of the student and concerns for the student's future success.

    Services provided through special education and prescribed by the team through the IEP could include services from a special education teacher, school social worker, occupational therapist, speech and language clinician, developmental adapted physical education teacher, physical therapist, etc. Specially designed instruction is calculated to provide educational benefit such that the student can make adequate progress in the educational setting.

    Services may be delivered in the general education classroom, in a specialized setting or both. Again, the IEP team determined the amount and location of the services. The school district is obligated to consider the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) so as to educate children with disabilities, to the maximum extent possible, with their peers who do not have identified disabilities.

    Parents and majority age students have protections under the state and federal laws. A summary of these protections is provided to the parents at each decision making point. If you have questions about the process for participating in the special education services in the St. Louis Park Schools please contact the district special education services staff.

    Tami Reynolds, Director of Student Services
    Phone: 952-928-6068

    Louise Raths, Supervisor of Student Services
    Phone: 952-928-6743
    Buildings: Early Childhood Special Education, Park Spanish Immersion, Susan Lindgren, and Peter Hobart 
    Deanna Lawrence, Supervisor of Student Services
    Phone: 952-928-6034
    Buildings: Aquila, Middle School, High School, and Transition Plus 

    Parent resources regarding the special education laws and services may be accessed through the following link: Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Right (PACER Center)