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Exceptional Child Education

Meet Our Team

Cynthia York, Director of Special Programs

Dan Belding, School Psychologist

Logan Brooks, Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Molly Caswell, Special Programs Teacher Consultant

Ann Epperson, School Psychologist 

Christa Middleton, Special Programs Teacher Consultant

Sondra Reece, Teacher for the Visually Impaired

Jamie Riley, Administrative Assistant

Bridget Wilfert, School Psychologist


What is Special Education? 

Special education is instruction that is specially designed and uniquely tailored to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Public schools must provide special education and related services (e.g. Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech) to eligible students with disabilities at no cost to the parents. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the law that gives qualified children with disabilities the right to receive special and related services in public schools. The IDEA applies to children from ages three to 21. 

The Kentucky Parent Guide for Special Education provides families and other stakeholders with information on the special education process and services provided to students throughout the state. 

​Is my child able to receive special education services? 

Many parents wonder if their child might have a disability and if they would be eligible for special education services. The Admissions and Release Committee (ARC) follows a process to determine if a student qualifies for special education services. This process involves several steps and may look different depending on the individual child. 

In Kentucky, an ARC may determine that a student qualifies for special education and related services in one or more categories.

These include:

  • Autism (AUT)

  • Deaf-Blindness (DB)

  • Developmental Delay (DD) three through age eight

  • Emotional-Behavioral Disability (EBD)

  • Functional Mental Disability (FMD)

  • Speech-Language Impairment (SLI)

  • Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

  • Mild Mental Disability (MMD)

  • Multiple Disabilities (MD)

  • Visual Impairment (VI)

  • Orthopedic Impairment (OI)

  • Hearing Impairment (HI)

  • Other Health Impairment (OHI)

Additional Resources: 

What is an Individual Education Program (IEP)? 

An IEP is a written, individualized program that outlines the services and supports the school and district will provide to students who qualify for special education and related services. IEPs help ensure students can access the general education curriculum. The Admissions and Release Committee (ARC) is the team responsible for developing a student’s IEP. Parents are a vital member of their child’s ARC. The ARC will review the student’s IEP at least once a year to be sure it continues to meet the unique educational needs of the student. ​

Additional resources:

What is the Admissions and Release Committee (ARC)? 

The ARC is a specialized team that works together to ensure students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) have equitable access to curriculum, instruction and other school-based services. The ARC has several duties including, but not limited to, designing an IEP that meets the student’s disability-specific needs and allows the student to make progress in the general education curriculum. 

The ARC is made up of several members. Members include (707 KAR 1:320, Section 3): 

(a) The parents or legal guardians of the child;

(b) Not less than one (1) regular education teacher;

(c) Not less than one (1) special education teacher;

(d) A representative of the school/district who is qualified to provide or supervise special education services and has knowledge of available resources;

(e) An individual who can understand and explain the results of evaluations;

(f) Other individuals (invited by the parent/guardian or school) with knowledge and expertise of the child; 

(g) Related services providers (e.g. Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy);

(h) The child (if appropriate); and 

(i) With parental consent, the school must also invite representatives from any other agencies that are likely to be responsible for paying for or providing transition services (for transition-aged students).​

Families are not only essential partners in the education and schooling of their child b​ut full members of an ARC team. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the 2008 Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR) on Special Education Programs outline the roles and responsibilities of parents and school districts regarding ARC meetings and IEP development.  

Additional Resources:

  • Preparing for the ARC: This document helps parents and families think through questions or concerns they may have when preparing to attend an ARC meeting. It can be printed out and taken to the ARC. 

  • IEP Team: This document provides information on the ARC from the Center for Parent Involvement and Resources (CPIR)

  • Parents on the IEP Team (English) and Más Sobre el Equipo del IEP (Spanish) from CPIR

What do all these letters mean? 

Acronyms seem to be everywhere in the world of Special Education. Sometimes school staff will use acronyms in conversation. Every so often they forget that these acronyms are unfamiliar to parents and families. The resources below provide information on what the acronyms mean so families can have a better understanding of the terms used. Keep in mind that this is often an unintended mistake, so parents should feel comfortable asking the speaker to clarify acronyms at any time. 

Additional Resources:

What if my child has a disability but does not qualify for an IEP? 

If a child has been diagnosed with a disability that seems to be impacting their learning and behavior but does not qualify for an IEP, families and staff may want to consider a Section 504 plan. A 504 plan addresses the unique learning needs of a student with a disability and provides reasonable accommodations. More information about Section 504 plans is in the Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.  

Additional Resources: 

Parent Resources