Special Education Services
The Jefferson County Schools Special Education Department’s purpose is to promote individualized educational services and programs for students with identified special education needs. The department is committed to ensuring that all students reach their maximum potential in order to transition successfully into adulthood.
- Mission and Beliefs
- Child Find Statement
- Continuum of Special Education Services
- Related Services: Occupational and Physical Therapy
- School Psychologists
- Speech and Language Services
What is Special Education?
The term "special education" is defined as "specially designed instruction" to meet the needs of a student with a disability. This instruction can occur in a variety of settings including but not limited to the following: the general education classroom, a special education classroom, at home, and/or in the hospital.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide a free appropriate public education to any student that has met Tennessee eligibility standards and whose needs cannot be met in the general education setting without the provision of special education supports and services in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
To provide leadership, advocacy, technical assistance, and promote collaboration among parents, educators, students, communities and other agencies to ensure that all students with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education.
The role of JCS Special Education Department is to:
- Identify students who have a disability that adversely impacts their educational performance and create maximum learning opportunities by fostering high expectations
- Create a collaborative relationship between parents, teachers, students, administration, and support staff
- Offer students the opportunity to access general education curriculum through inclusion
- Promote individualized instructional techniques and supports for students
- Utilize technology as an instructional tool for students and teachers.
As required by IDEA,JCS has a comprehensive system to locate, identify, and refer as early as possible all children with disabilities, aged 3 to 21, for early intervention or special education services.
Parents who have a child between the ages of 3-5 and have concerns that their child may need special education services must complete the student find referral form that can be accessed by clicking on the Student Find Referral Form link or contact the JCS Special Education Department.
Parents who have educational concerns about school-age students (5-21) who attend public school should notify their child's teacher, school counselor, principal of the student's zoned school or JCS Special Education Supervisor regarding their concerns. Anyone can make a referral; however, parental consent must be obtained before any assessment occurs. A referral will be made to the school's Support Response Team (SRT) to review the referral request. A meeting with the parent will be held to discuss all team members' concerns, review data and determine next steps (i.e., develop interventions to be attempted in the general education classroom, design methods to obtain data to determine if the interventions are successful or not, collect data, and make referrals for additional evaluations/assessments as needed).
Parents who have educational concerns about school-age students (5-21) who do not attend public school but are being home schooled through a home school program or are attending a private school (I.e., private school, adult prison, or youth detention center) located within Jefferson County should contact the school administration and/or JCS Special Education Department. Upon receiving the written parental request, a student referral will be made to the school's Support Response Team (SRT) to review the referral request. A meeting with the parent will be held to discuss all team members concerns, review data and determine next steps (i.e., develop interventions to be attempted in the general education classroom, design methods to obtain data to determine if the interventions are successful or not, collect data, and make referrals for additional evaluations/assessments as needed).
The JCS Special Education Department provides a continuum of services to students with disabilities, beginning the general education classroom as the first consideration for all students.
If the IEP Team determines that another placement would be more appropriate in meeting the educational needs of a student, the IEP team works through the continuum of services to determine the most appropriate placement for the student. This may include, but is not limited to inclusion, resource pull out or a self-contained /comprehensive development class.
Inclusion is the educational practice of educating student with disabilities in classrooms with student without disabilities. In the inclusion classroom, students identified with disabilities spend most or all of their time with non-disabled peers. A student receiving special education services may participate fully in the same program as the general education student with supports from the special education teacher, or may participate in a limited way, as they are able.
Resource rooms are classrooms where a special education intervention can be delivered to a student with a disability (e.g., Spire, iReady math). This setting may best be suited for a student who qualifies for either a special class or regular class placement but needs some special instruction in an individualized or small group setting for a portion of the day. Individual needs are supported in resource rooms as defined by the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP).
Students may require a more comprehensive setting based on individual needs. If a student is recommended for a self-contained/comprehensive development class, it is because the IEP Team has agreed that the student needs a smaller, more structured learning environment for academics, behavior remediation, transition skills, daily living skills, and/or self-advocacy instruction that cannot be provided in an inclusion program and/or resource classroom.
Every effort possible is made to keep a small student-teacher ratio in the self-contained/comprehensive classes. In addition to classroom instruction, related services such as speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, vision services, counseling, and hearing services are provided as indicated in each student’s IEP. Parent training may also be provided to assist the parent in understanding the student’s disability and/or the generalization of skills from school to home. CDC classrooms are available at all schools in Jefferson County except for Talbott Elementary.
“Intellectually Gifted” refers to a student whose intellectual abilities and potential for achievement are so outstanding the student’s educational performance is adversely impacted. “Adverse impact” means the general curriculum alone is inadequate to appropriately meet the student’s educational needs.
The Gifted referral process is a systematic screening and evaluation process. Referrals for screening may be made by parents, teachers, or grade level screenings at the school level.
Eligibility for services as a gifted student is based on evaluation in each of the following component areas: Educational Performance, Creativity/Characteristics of Intellectual Giftedness, and Cognition/Intelligence. Upon determination of eligibility for services, an IEP is formulated for each individual student based on programming needs.
Jefferson County Schools currently provides support services for preschool children with special needs at two sites-Jefferson Elementary and Dandridge Elementary. Both sites provide a loving, learning environment with emphasis on language development.
An initial assessment identifies students appropriate for the Developmental Preschool classroom. Both classrooms provide occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech/language therapy as needed. Our goal is to equip each child with the social, emotional, behavioral and academic skills necessary to attend kindergarten.
Occupational and Physical Therapy services are included in the “related service” provided by the IDEA. The intent for the provision of occupational and physical therapy is to ensure that an eligible student who requires related services will obtain an educational benefit.
Referrals for occupational and/or physical therapy services are made through the IEP process and require a physician’s order prior to evaluation. Evaluations and any related service recommendations are based on the individual student’s IEP present levels and goals/objectives.
Occupational and/or physical therapy services will address functional school-related goals in the least restrictive environment. The focus of occupational therapy is generally fine and visual/perceptual motor, sensory motor, independence with self-help skills, organizational skills, handwriting and alternatives, and adaptive equipment needs within the school setting. The focus of physical therapy is generally on functional mobility, positioning, an accessibility as well as provision and consultation related to the use of adaptive equipment and mobility devices within the school environment. Occupational and/or physical therapy services are provided within the school environment which could include the classroom, the lunchroom, on the playground, or in any other "natural" environment the student may be in during the instructional school day.
Our purpose in assessment/psychological services is to facilitate positive change and enhance learning and emotional well-being through assessment, data-driven decision-making, and collaboration with all stakeholders, enabling students to successfully transition into adulthood. We believe in the unique potential of our students, families, and school communities and therefore hold ourselves to high ethical standards always acting in the best interest of the student.
The role of a JCS school psychologist is to:
Enhance learning opportunities of students through communication regarding strengths and needs
- Work collaboratively with all stakeholders to develop effective learning communities within a continuum of services through data-driven decision-making
- Review and assess the needs of the student that impact the educational experience, including motivation, cognitive skills, emotional state, cultural background, and family and health factors
- Analyze and interpret data for the purpose of assisting staff in developing effective academic programs and positive behavior interventions
- Foster positive and cooperative relationships between special education and general education
- Assist students to enhance their academic and social/emotional development
- Successfully transition students through their academic career and into adulthood
JCS speech and language personnel assess, identify, and plan programs for students with communication disabilities. Our goal is to identify student needs, support student education, and facilitate student development throughout the years.
The speech/language pathologist (SLP) is responsible for identifying and serving students and assisting other educators in their efforts to improve learning. Speech pathologists participate in RTI team meetings as needed. Screening language, articulation, voice, fluency, and/or hearing as requested, they provide intervention strategies and services as indicated prior to completing comprehensive evaluations. The SLPs participate in Individual Education Program (IEP) team meetings and assist the IEP team in determining eligibility for services and in designing an appropriate IEP (i.e., goals). Speech and language services compliment the general education curriculum and provide support for skills impacted by the student’s speech/language disability.
For special education purposes, transition is the change from secondary education to post-secondary programs, work, and independent living. Transition services aid students in this process through a coordinated set of activities that are designed within a results-oriented process., which promotes movement from school to post-school activities including: measurable post-secondary goals in:
- Postsecondary education/training
- Independent or supported living
- Community involvement
- Based upon the individual student’s strengths, preferences, and interests
- Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, employment and/or adult living objectives and, when appropriate daily living skills
- Objectives and functional vocational evaluation