Does your child struggle meeting average stages of development in areas of physical, emotional and mental or academic growth? Your child may qualify for additional services to assist in reaching developmental milestones. These services are provided through Tahlequah Public Schools Special Education department. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is federal legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs.
Tahlequah Public Schools provides services for students age 3-21 with special needs under the categories of Developmental Delays, Intellectual Disabilities, Multiple Disabilities, Autism, Other Health Impairments, Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech-Language Impairment, Emotional Disturbances, Deaf-Blindness, Traumatic Brain Injury, Hearing Impairment, Orthopedic Impairments and Visual Impairment. Qualifying students attending this district are served under the category of Developmentally Delayed with a suspected disability until they reach the age of 10, unless their eligibility area of service is Hearing Impaired or Deaf-Blind. Students, who qualify for services, receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP) designed to afford them a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
An IEP lists current information about that specific child. It provides the educational team with information about the student’s academic goals for the coming year and measurable objectives designed to help reach that goal. Parents and guardians are important participants of the IEP writing process and their input is crucial to understanding the concerns and desires for their child’s educational planning. Parents share their comments and concerns as the team develops an IEP. The IEP also provides information such as the child’s current levels of functioning, their strengths and weaknesses, and the supports and services they will have. Prior to a child entering the 9th grade or turning 16, the IEP team will begin to address transitional plans for when the student graduates from high school. Many students who graduate from high school and were eligible for Special Education services, will continue their education by attending college. Many will complete vocational training or elect to go directly into the job market.
Tahlequah Public Schools currently has 664 students who are served on an IEP. We employ 24 full-time highly-qualified special education teachers, two part-time special education teachers, six speech and language pathologists who maintain their Certificate of Clinical Competence, one full-time district Psychometrist/Psychologist and 32 special-care paraprofessionals.
Services vary based on a student’s needs. Most students are instructed in the regular classroom full-time except for the time they are pulled for specific services such as speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy or small group instruction. Others may require more support from teachers and paraprofessionals in a self-contained classroom. There are few students in our district who do not receive services in the regular education environment. One group of students that we provide services to are in an educational program at an off-campus residential center in our community. When possible, these students are ultimately transitioned into our high school to attend classes and complete coursework for graduation.
We are always looking for ways to improve and help our children grow. All students benefit when they have high expectations set for them and given the tools to succeed. We are grateful for the dedication our special education teachers, regular education teachers, paraprofessionals, parents and principals provide that allow students to reach and exceed the goals we have set. Our district believes all students can learn.
Tahlequah Public Schools offer special education services to qualifying students with special learning needs. Services are provided and designed to meet the individual needs of the student as written in their individualized educational program. Services are available for children, birth through 21 years of age and are at no cost to the parent. If you have questions or need more information, please contact your child’s school counselor or contact Susan VanZant, Director of Special Services at 918-458-4100.