Director of Special Education
Fax: (531) 299-0386
Supervisor: Connie Coltrane
Lead Teacher: Lori Chatfield
Mission and Philosophy
Definition of Special Education
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 (531) 299-0244.
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.
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.