Contact Us

 

 

 

Kara Saldierna
Director of Special Education

Office: (531) 299-9461

Fax: (531) 299-0386
kara.saldierna@ops.org


Supervisor: Connie Coltrane 
(531) 299-9569
connie.coltrane@ops.org

Lead Teacher: Lori Chatfield
(531) 299-9549
laura.chatfield@ops.org

Special Education Information

Omaha Public Schools offers a variety of high quality services to students with disabilities from birth through the school year in which the student turns 21. Parents and families work with school staff to develop an Individual Education Program (IEP) or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) that addresses the needs of the student. Special Education programs and services are available at each building in the district. Some programs are available at selected sites and we bring children to a particular location for specialized, intensive, remedial instruction.

Many support staff work with general educators and special educators to provide related services that students need to participate in their educational program. Speech language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, hearing and vision resource teachers, audiologists and consultants travel between buildings to work with students, teachers and other staff.

In a given school year, over 9,000 students receive some type of special education services from the district. There are over 600 special education teachers/therapists and over 300 paraprofessionals who work with principals, general educators and other building staff to create individualized, inclusive school environments.

The building principal and staff can answer any questions you may have about special education services in the district. And, of course, feel free to contact any staff from Special Education services as well.

For more information, please contact the Special Education Office at (402) 557-2420.

 
Special Education Services
 
Mission
     
Our mission is to provide leadership, services and support to strengthen the capacity of schools, families and communities to enhance student success by establishing high expectations and high quality education programs for all students with disabilities.
 
Vision
Our aspirations are to ensure all individuals with disabilities are academically proficient, gainfully employed and socially adjusted while continuing to improve academic results and postsecondary outcomes for students with special needs.  All students and children learn and grow in natural and inclusive environments with non-disabled peers.
 
Beliefs
 
  • Educational outcomes for students with disabilities replace procedural compliance as our primary focus.
  • Low expectations of the past are replaced with early intervention, individualized services, parent empowerment and accountability for results.
  • Students are supported in the least restrictive environment. 
  • Access to general education opportunities is the right of every student.
  • Participation and progress in the general curriculum is facilitated with the use of research-based academic, social and positive behavioral supports.
  • Students as members of a community must have the opportunity to attend their neighborhood school.
  • Communication and planning among professionals supports student transitions. 
Definition of Special Education
   
     

Special Education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of a child with a verified disability, including classroom instruction, home instruction, instruction in hospitals and institutions and in other settings and instruction in physical education.  the term includes travel training, vocational education, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy if the service consists of specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

   
Disability Definitions
   
 

Autism: To qualify for special education services in the category of autism the child must have a developmental disability which significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, is generally evident before age three, and that adversely affects a child's educational performance.  Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual response to sensory experiences.

Behavior Disorder: (referred to in the 2004 Amendments to the IDEA as "Emotional Disturbance")  In order to qualify for special education in the category of behavior disorder the child must have a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance or, in the case of children below age five, development:

(A)  An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, health factors.

(B)  An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

(C)  Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

(D)  A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

(E)  A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Deaf-Blindness:  To qualify for special education services in the category of Deaf-Blindness, the child must have concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes:  severe communication needs; and other developmental and educational needs.  The severity of these needs is such that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Developmental Delay: To qualify for special education services in the category of developmental delay, the child shall have significant delay as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures in one or more of the following areas and, by reason thereof needs special education and related services:  Cognitive development, Physical development, Communication development, Social or Emotional development, Adaptive behavior or Skills development, or a diagnosed physical or medical condition that has a high probability of resulting in a substantial delay in function in one or more of such areas.

Hearing Impairments: To qualify for special education services in the category of hearing impairment, a child must have impairment in hearing which is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linquistic information through hearing with or without amplification, or is permanent or fluctuating, and adversely affects the child's development or educational performance.
Mental Handicap: To qualify for special education services in the category of mental handicap, the child must demonstrate: significantly sub average general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child's educational or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.  This term parallels the federal definition of mental retardation in the regulations implementing IDEA 2004.
Multiple Impairments: To qualify for special education services in the category of multiple impairments, the child must have concomitant impairments (such as mental handicap-visual impairment, mental handicap-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe developmental or educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.
Orthopedic Impairments: To qualify for services in the category of orthopedic impairment, the child must have a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Other Health Impairments: To qualify for special education services in the category of other health impairment, the child must have limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems which adversely affects the child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Specific Learning Disability: To qualify for special education services in the category of specific learning disability the child must have a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.  The category includes conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
Speech-Language Impairment: To qualify for special education services in the category of speech-language impairment, the child must have a communication disorder, such as:  stuttering; impaired articulation; language impairment; or voice impairment.  This disorder must adversely affect the child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Traumatic Brain Injury: To qualify for special education services in the category of traumatic brain injury, the child must have an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both that adversely affects a child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.
Visual Impairment, including Blindness: To qualify for special education services in the category of visual impairment, including blindness, the child must have an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational, or in the case of a child below age five, a child's developmental performance.  This category includes children who have partial sight or blindness.