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Special Education

District Special Education Services

Minnesota Public Schools are required by law to provide a free, appropriate education to all children with disabilities birth through 21 years of age. As part of our districts commitment to this law, we encourage parents who have questions regarding the 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 a 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                                                                                                  
Physical Impairment                                                                                                
Severe Multiple Impairments                                                                                
Specific Learning Disability                                                                                          
Speech/Language Impairment                                                                                
Traumatic Brain Injury                                                                                                   
Visual Impairment

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 school districts 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 Services 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: 

Math Skills                                                                                                                             
Self-Help Skills                                                                                                                     
Motor Skills                                                                                                                             
Organizational Skills                                                                                                               
Social Skills                                                                                                               
Transition Skills                                                                                                               
Emotional Skills

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 childs' 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.            


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About Us
The Mission of the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown School District is to inspire everyone who enters to achieve academic, social, and personal skills to become career, college, and community ready.
WEM ISD #2143
500 East Paquin Street
Waterville, MN 56096

507-362-4432 District Office
507-362-4439 Elementary Office
507-362-4431 High School Office
507-685-4222 Middle School Office (Morristown)
507-362-4403 Community Ed / Athletics

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