Tahlequah Schools are in the business of providing instruction and support to help students meet learning goals to prepare them for post high school opportunities. Our district has resources and staff available to help children achieve success and reach their potential with many highlighted on the TPS website, face book pages, newspaper articles and assemblies. Due to confidentiality reasons, you may not hear much news about a driven, behind the scenes, group of teachers making up our Special Services department. These special educators are more than special. They support students with varied challenges by providing instruction with accommodations and modifications to master educational skills.
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 701 students who are served on an IEP. We employ 26 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 33 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 a few students in our district who do not receive services in the on-campus education environment. A small number of students receives educational services at an off-campus residential center in our community. When possible, these students are ultimately transitioned into our middle and high school to attend classes and complete coursework for graduation.
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.