District Special Education Services
Minnesota Public Schools are required by law to provide a free, appropriate education to all children with handicaps birth through 22 years of age. As part of our district’s commitment to this law, we encourage parents who have questions regarding special needs of their children to contact the Director of Special Education, Heather Harms, at 507-835-5046.
“Special education” is instruction, specific to the child, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. It is important to note: Students with disabilities are general education students first. They receive special education support services in conjunction with the general education curriculum. Special education is an instructional service, not a place. Special education services must be reasonably calculated to allow the student to benefit from instruction. If the student is receiving benefit from the special education services, the student will progress at his/her own individual rate. A student who has a disability will always have the disability and would not be expected to progress in all areas at the same rate as his/her regular education peers.
What is a Disability?
A disability is a lifelong disabling condition often associated with a physical, mental, or communication impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, including education.
Who Can Receive Special Education Services?
The child must meet MN state eligibility criteria in one or more of the following areas:
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Deaf/Hard of Hearing Developmental Cognitive Disability: Mild/Moderate
Developmental Cognitive Disability: Severe-Profound
Developmental Delay (birth to age 7)
Emotional or Behavioral Disorder
Other Health Disability
Severe Multiple Impairments
Specific Learning Disability
Speech or Language Impairment
Traumatic Brain Injury
An evaluation is used to document the existence of a disability. Below average academic performance alone does not qualify a student for special education.
How Does a Student Receive Special Education Services?
The NRHEG School District special education programs and services are designed to meet the needs of students with various disabilities from birth to age 21. If a student has met Minnesota eligibility through a comprehensive evaluation, then a multi-disciplinary team of parents and professionals will meet to write goals to improve the areas of educational need identified for the student. These goals will be written on a document called an Individual Educational Program (IEP), an Individual Service Plan (ISP), an Interagency Individual Intervention Plan (IIIP) or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) for students ages 2 and under.
Special education programs require parents to participate in making decisions for their child. If a parent is not available, a surrogate parent will be appointed.
Specialized instruction may be provided in the areas of need. Special education areas of need may include:
Related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, Speech, Developmental Adaptive Physical Education (DAPE), etc. are provided if it is determined the child would not be able to meet their instructional goals without this service. Related Services cannot be provided unless the student is already receiving a special education service in a disability area, such as a learning disability. The related service is only provided if the student requires the service in order to make progress on IEP/ISP/IIIP/IFSP goals.
What Should I Expect When My Child Receives Special Education Services?
Parents should expect to participate as a team member in decisions regarding their child’s special education program. A student should receive instruction that has been individualized to meet their specific needs.
Special education teachers will work with general education teachers to provide the appropriate adaptations within the general education setting. Adaptations can include highlighted textbooks, shortened assignments, class notes, as well as other aids to assist students to succeed in school.
Section 504 is a federal anti-discrimination law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (29 USC §794,701 et seq.). Recipients of this federal financial assistance include public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies. It requires a school district to provide a “free and appropriate education,” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the recipient’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the student’s disability (34 C.F.R. § 104.33(a). Under Section 504, FAPE provides regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities as adequately as the needs of individuals without disabilities are met. 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(b)(1)(i).
NRHEG is committed to fulfilling the obligations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The district has systems in place to identify, evaluate and provide educational services to students with disabilities in a manner that is as similar to their non-disabled peers as deemed appropriate.
Parents and students have a right to request an evaluation if they suspect the student has a disability which affects their educational progress. Parents and students have a right to be part of the educational team that determines the methods of evaluation, the interpretation of the evaluation results and the development of the Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan should one be required. Parents and students who have questions regarding the process can contact the Special Education Office at 507-835-5046.
Auxiliary aids and services are available for school-sponsored events. Please contact the school 72 hours prior to the event to make a request. Examples of auxiliary aids or services may include sign language interpreter, assistive listening kit, accessible meeting location, large print or Braille materials, etc.