Mary Walker Special Education Services Includes Infants & Toddlers
Beginning in September of 2009, Mary Walker, along with all other districts in the state, began participating in early intervention services for infants and toddlers who have disabilities. The law now requires the special education department to expand its search for children (“Childfind”) with disabilities to include birth to age 3, referred to as Part C under the federal, “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA). Previously, districts were only required to identify and serve children with disabilities ages 3 through 21, referred to as Part B under IDEA.
Part B has required school districts to identify, assess and provide a “Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)” to children who may qualify under one of several categories, including: developmental delay, mental retardation, hearing impairment, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, specific learning disability, autism, emotional-behavioral disorder and others. Services can include speech-language therapy, physical therapy, specialized instruction directed by a certified special education teacher, and other services and accommodations deemed necessary by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, which includes the parents.
Part C does not require the district to be the sole provider of services or to provide FAPE, as in Part B. It does, however, require district special education personnel to work with the county’s Family Resource Coordinator (FRC) whose responsibility it is to see that families and providers work together. Children in this age bracket, birth to 3, have an Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP) rather than an IEP. Required services are not only paid for by state special education funding, similar to Part B, but also through the family’s private insurance, Medicaid when the child is eligible, or some other funding source coordinated by the FRC.
Anyone can now refer any child suspected of a developmental delay or other disability, ages birth through 21, for evaluation to Mary Walker’s special education department. Contact Edwina Hargrave, PK-5 Principal & Special Education Director (258-4533), or
Special Education and Section 504 Planning
"Special Education" is the broad term used to describe the educational system for children with disabilities. The Mary Walker Special Education Department includes three full-time special education teachers and 12 part-time classroom instructional assistants. They are assisted by three part-time educational staff associates (ESAs): a school psychologist, a speech and language pathologist and a physical therapist.
All personnel working with special education students must complete specialized training programs and be certified by the state to assist in the education and therapy of these high needs students. ESAs must complete graduate programs in their specialties. Categorical funding to be used for the education and therapy of these high needs students is provided by state and federal programs.
Special education for any student with a disability is mandated by the federal, "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," which has resulted in the state's, "Rules for the Provision of Special Education to Special Education Students." These laws (WAC 392-172A, 140 pages) give children with disabilities and their parents important rights not available in regular education and their parents. These include the right to have their child assessed for one of the 14 qualifying disability categories (e.g. Specific Learning Disability, Mental Retardation, Autism, Communication Disorder, to name a few) and to participate in the creation of a specific Individualized Education Plan (IEP) if the child qualifies for and is found in need of special education. Special education services can be provided to students as young as three and as old as 21.
Another program for students with disabilities is called the, "Section 504 of the American with Disabilities Act." Students are considered disabled under this program, "if they have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities." Typically, students qualifying under 504 need special accommodations in the school and classroom setting rather than the specialized instruction a student needing special education would receive. For example, a student who broke his leg skiing may need accommodations under a 504 Plan (e.g. extra time to get to class) while a student with a Specific Learning Disability would need an IEP (e.g. for basic reading deficits).
Important! Any teacher, parent, relative or community member may refer any student of any age birth to 21 suspected of having a learning or other disability for special education or 504 evaluation at any time! If you have any questions, contact the Special Education Department (258-4780 or 258-4726)!