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The Special Education Department meets the individual needs of students ages three through twenty-one who are eligible for special education and related services according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The department assists in the assessment process for determining special education eligibility.

A full continuum of services is available, ranging from the least restrictive to more restrictive environments, depending on the specific needs of the student. The department also supports schools in ensuring students with disabilities appropriately access the curriculum and provides specialized instruction as determined necessary by the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

In collaboration with students, schools, families, and the community, the Special Education Department assists students with disabilities in increasing academic performance and enhancing post-secondary options.


Department of Special Education Directory

> Director of Special Education: Jennifer M. Brendle, Ed.S: 912-851-4014
> Special Education Administrative Assistant: Deborah Livingston: 912-851-4014
> Coordinator of Special Education: Kathleen Browne: 912-851-4014
> Coordinator of Special Education: Susan Westphal: 912-851-4014
> Behavior Specialist: Rachel Kunert: 912-851-4014
> Behavior Specialist: Dr. Timothy Mantooth: 912-851-4014
> Parent Mentor: Celena Hughes: 912-459-1012 
> School Psychologist: Stacy Sexton: RHHS 
> School Psychologist: Georgia Dess: LPS and RHPS
> School Psychologist: Teresa Gamble: RHES and CES
> School Psychologist: Whitney Jones: BCES, BCMS, BCHS
> School Psychologist: Ari White: MES and RHMS
> Occupational Therapist: Jami Newland: 912-459-1012
> Occupational Therapist: Mirka Ratajova-Blackburn: 912-459-1012
> Physical Therapist: Melissa Shipes: 912-459-1012
> Transition Specialist: Gina Campbell
> Early Intervention Specialist: Paulette Hodges-Smith


Parental Rights: Understanding Your Rights 

Special education laws and procedures are complicated and can be hard to understand.

If you are a parent reading this guide, your child may have been identified as having a disability or may be experiencing difficulties in school. All students possess differences, learn differently and demonstrate varied abilities. This is what makes us unique. Special education is more about ability than disability. What your child can do is far more important than any perceived or actual limitations he or she may be experiencing. Because you know your child better than anyone else, your involvement in the education process is critical.

Bryan County Schools wants and needs your involvement in your child’s education. We hope this information will give you a better understanding of the special education process.

This guide is not meant to replace the Explanation of Procedural Safeguards (Parental Rights) that must be given to parents of eligible children at specific times during the school year. — If you have any questions about special education rules or regulations, please contact your child’s case manager for explanation.


(PDF) A Parent's Guide to Understanding Rights and Responsibilities
(PDF) Parent Rights Regarding Special Education
(PDF) Medicaid Annual Notification


CHILD FIND

Question: What is Child Find?

Answer: The purpose of Child Find is to identify, locate, and evaluate children and youth, birth to age 21, who are suspected of, or have a disability or developmental delay. Bryan County Schools serves children ages 3 through 21 with identified special education needs.

Question: How can children be referred?

Answer: A referral may be made by anyone who has a concern about a child’s development. All referrals are considered confidential. The parent retains the right to refuse services. Children may be referred by any of the following:


> Parents/legal guardians/foster parents
> Other family members
> Physicians/health care providers
> Preschool programs
> School system personnel
> Community agencies
> Private school personnel
> Others who are concerned about a child’s development

Question: When should a child be referred for Child Find purposes?

Answer: A child should be referred when:


> A health or medical disorder interferes with development or learning.
> A child seems to have difficulty seeing or hearing.
> A child appears to have social, emotional or behavioral difficulties that affect his/her ability to learn.
> A child has diagnosed progressive or degenerative condition that will eventually impair or impede the child’s ability to learn.
> A child seems to have difficulty understanding directions like others that are his/her age.
> A child’s speech is not understandable to family or friends.
> A child has difficulty with reading, math, or other school subjects.

Question: What is Special Education and who is eligible for services?

Answer: Special Education is instruction designed to meet the unique learning strengths and needs of individual students with disabilities from birth through age 21. A child must be evaluated and identified as having a disability to be eligible for Special Education and/or related services. Services are provided for students in all disability areas recognized by the State of Georgia.

Question: Where can I find out more about Child Find?

Answer: For a preschool aged child, with a chronological age of 3 through 5, who has or may have a developmental disability, please contact the Special Education Office at 912-851-4014.

Parents of students kindergarten through 12th-grade, who suspect their child may have a disability, should contact the teacher, principal or the chairperson of the school’s Student Support Team.


(PDF) Child Find Procedures


Section 504 

Section 504 states:

No otherwise qualified handicapped individual ... shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibit discrimination against handicapped (disabled) persons. All federal, state, and local governments, as well as all public and private schools, are required to fully implement these laws in order to protect the rights of all qualified individuals.

Additional information is available by accessing the following:


(PDF) Overview of Section 504
(PDF) Section 504 Procedural Safeguards
(PDF) Frequently Asked Questions


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that assures a free, appropriate public education and protects the rights of students with disabilities. Every step in planning and monitoring the student's education is protected by this law, including procedures and processes such as:


> Reasonable notice
> Parent consent
> Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
> Individualized Education Program (IEP)
> Placement
> Confidentiality
> Mediation
> Due process

Additional information is available by visiting the US Department of Education IDEA website at; http://idea.ed.gov/


No Child Left Behind Act 

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002. The law contains many provisions designed to increase educational opportunities for children, especially those who come from families with lower incomes or who need more academic assistance. The No Child Left Behind Act was also created to ensure that students with disabilities were not left behind.

This guide is meant to provide you with information about No Child Left Behind. It summarizes the main provisions of the law, answers common questions, and provides information on where you can find additional resources.


(PDF) A Parent's Guide to No Child Left Behind


Assistive Technology 

Assistive technology devices are identified in the IDEA as “any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities."

The definition of an assistive technology device is very general and provides IEP teams with the flexibility to provide a range of technology solutions to assist students in completing tasks within relevant instructional or access areas. Technology is available to support student performance in academic areas such as writing, spelling, reading, and math. Moreover, assistive technology is available to support student performance and independence in communication, listening, mobility, recreation and leisure, vocational training, and daily living activities.

Assistive technology services include “any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, and use of an assistive technology device.” Assistive technology services include but are not limited to evaluation, device acquisition, device maintenance and repair, training for the student, his family, and educators as needed, and technicalassistance.


(PDF) Assistive Technology Fact Sheet


Discipline and Students with Disabilities 

IDEA helps school personnel ensure school safety and hold students responsible for their actions, while protecting the rights of children with disabilities. The discipline procedures only apply where the discipline infraction results in a change in placement for longer than 10 school days, and was a direct result of the child's disability. Unless a disciplinary infraction is the direct result of a child's disability, the child will be disciplined in the same manner and for the same duration as a non-disabled student.

Question: What process will determine whether the disciplinary infraction was the direct result of a child's disability?

Answer: The LEA (a representative from the school system), the parent and the relevant members of the IEP Team must determine whether the conduct in question was a "manifestation of the child's disability" through a manifestation determination. This tool will analyze the child's behavior in different settings and over a period of time to determine whether the discipline infraction is a direct result of the child's disability.

Question: What services and placement would then be available to the child if the actions are determined to be a manifestation of the child's disability?

Answer: If the discipline infraction was the direct result of the child's disability, a child with a disability would not be subject to discipline in the same manner as a non-disabled child. However, such determination is not to say that the child should not be subject to any discipline.

In these situations, the IEP Team shall determine whether a functional behavior assessment has been conducted and a behavioral intervention plan has been implemented for such a child. If the IEP Team finds that such assessment has not been conducted or a behavioral intervention plan has not been implemented for a child, then both should be completed. Where a behavioral intervention plan has been developed, the IEP Team must review the behavioral intervention plan and modify it, as necessary, to address the behavior.

Question: What services and placement are available to the child if the actions are determined not to be a manifestation of the child's disability?

Answer: Unless a disciplinary infraction is the direct result of a child's disability, the child will be disciplined in the same manner and for the same duration as a non-disabled student. The child may be placed in an interim alternative educational setting to continue to make progress on his or her IEP.

Removal from School

A school district may remove a student to an interim alternative educational setting for up to 45 school days without regard to whether the child’s behavior was caused by their disability if the child:


> Carried a weapon to school or had a weapon at school or on school premises or at a school function.
> Knowingly had or used illegal drugs or solicited the sale of a controlled substance while at school, on school grounds or at a school function.
> Has inflicted serious bodily harm upon another person while at school, on school premises or at a school function.


(PDF) Discipline Quick Guide


Parent Resources

Bryan County Special Education Department encourages parents to become familiar with local and regional resources available to support students and families. The Special Education Department in collaboration with Parent to Parent of Georgia provides parents with access to a parent mentor for support, information and training opportunities for families who have children and youth with disabilities.

The Parent to Parent website can be accessed using the following web address: http://p2pga.org/


(PDF) Parent Resources

Bryan County Special Education Parent Mentor: Becky Bryant: 912-459-1012


Georgia Special Needs Scholarship: Senate Bill 10 

The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS), referred to as Senate Bill 10, was signed into law May 2007. This bill provides parents of students with disabilities who are enrolled in Georgia public schools with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) the choice to request a transfer to another public school or state approved participating private school in Georgia. Parents or Guardians who wish to take advantage of the Special Education Special Needs Scholarship Program for in-district transfer must complete an application through the Special Education office located at the Bryan County Board of Education, 8810 Hwy 280, Black Creek, GA 31308, Phone - 912-851-4014, Office Hours - Monday - Friday - 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

To newly qualify for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program for the 2015-2016 school year a student must meet ALL FOUR of the following requirements:


> Student Eligibility Criteria 1- A student have must a parent/guardian who currently lives in Georgia and has been a resident for at least one calendar year.
> Student Eligibility Criteria 2- A student was enrolled and completed the 2013 – 2014 school year in a Georgia public school in grades kindergarten through twelfth.
> Student Eligibility Criteria 3- A student was reported as attending a Georgia public school by a school district(s) during mandatory student counts conducted in October 2014 and March 2015.
> Student Eligibility Criteria 4 - A student does not need to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the entire school year to qualify for the GSNS Program. A student must have received special education services at some point during the 2014–2015 school year through an IEP. A student must be reported by a school district(s) in either the October 2014 OR March 2015 student counts OR in final student record as a student receiving special education services by the end of the 2014–2015 school year.

If a student meets the eligibility criteria for the GSNS Program, a parent/guardian has the right to request a transfer from a student’s current public school to:


> Another public school within their district of residence; or
> Another public school district outside their district of residence; or
One of the three state schools for the blind or deaf; or
> A private school authorized to participate in the GSNS Program. > Funds received through the GSNS Program can only be used to pay for tuition and fees at a private school authorized by the State Board of Education to participate in the program.
> Funds cannot be used to pay the costs of out of district tuition, charter schools, or other options available under public school choice.

The following students are ineligible for the GSNS program:


> Pre-school special education students. A special education student must complete a full school year in kindergarten before he/she can be eligible.
> Home school students.
> Students privately placed in residential treatment facilities.
> Students attending a Department of Juvenile Justice School.
> Students in the Early Intervention Program (EIP).
> Students with an Individualized Accommodation Plan (IAP, Section 504 plan); and/or
> Students otherwise not eligible per Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section §20-2-2114.

Transportation under all school choice options are the responsibility of a parent/guardian.

The deadline for submitting in-district transfer request applications for the 15-16 school year is June 30, 2015.


(PDF) SB10 Quick Facts
(PDF) SB10 Reenrollment for Continuing Eligibility
(PDF) SB 10 Approved Private School List
(PDF) SB 10 Public School Transfer Request Form


Special Education Eligibility Categories 

In partnership with general education, the Special Education Department seeks to provide services for students with disabilities which facilitate educational success. These services support the school system's goals and are delivered through a variety of models. The Individual Education Program (IEP) specifies educational placement and programs for students along a continuum of services.

Special Education services are provided for students who qualify in one or more of the following areas:

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability generally evident before age three that adversely affects a child's educational performance and significantly affects developmental rates and sequences, verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction and participation. Other characteristics often associated with autism spectrum disorder are unusual responses to sensory experiences, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements and resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines. Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance as defined in (d). Children with autism spectrum disorder vary widely in their abilities and behavior.

The term of autism spectrum disorder includes all subtypes of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (such as Autistic Disorder; Rett’s Disorder; Childhood

Disintegrative Disorder; Asperger Syndrome; and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified) provided the child’s educational performance is adversely affected and the child meets the eligibility criteria. Autism spectrum disorder may exist concurrently with other areas of disability.

Deaf Blind

Deaf blind means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH)

A child who is deaf or hard of hearing is one who exhibits a hearing loss that, whether permanent or fluctuating, interferes with the acquisition or maintenance of auditory skills necessary for the normal development of speech, language, and academic achievement and, therefore, adversely affects a child’s educational performance.


> A child who is deaf can be characterized by the absence of enough measurable hearing (usually a pure tone average of 66-90+ decibels American National Standards Institute without amplification) such that the primary sensory input for communication may be other than the auditory channel.
> A child who is hard of hearing can be characterized by the absence of enough measurable hearing (usually a pure tone average range of 30-65 decibels American National Standards Institute without amplification) that the ability to communicate is adversely affected; however, the child who is hard of hearing typically relies upon the auditory channel as the primary sensory input for communication.

Emotional Behavioral Disorders

An emotional and behavioral disorder is an emotional disability characterized by the following:


> An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and/or teachers. For preschool-age children, this would include other care providers.
> An inability to learn which cannot be adequately explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors.
> A consistent or chronic inappropriate type of behavior or feelings under normal conditions.
> A displayed pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
> A displayed tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains or unreasonable fears associated with personal or school problems.

Intellectual Disabilities

Intellectual disabilities refer to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning which exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior that adversely affects educational performance and originates before age 18.  Intellectual disability does not include conditions primarily due to a sensory or physical impairment, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorders, severe multiple impairments, cultural influences or a history of inconsistent and/or inadequate educational programming.

Mild intellectual disability (MID).


> Intellectual functioning ranging between an upper limit of approximately 70 to a lower limit of approximately 55; and
> Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility, and especially school performance that is expected of the individual’s age level and cultural group, as determined by clinical judgment.

Moderate intellectual disability (MOID).


> Intellectual functioning ranging from an upper limit of approximately 55 to a lower limit of approximately 40; and
> Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility, and especially school performance that is expected of the individual’s age-level and cultural group as determined by clinical judgment.

Severe intellectual disability (SID).


> Intellectual functioning ranging from an upper limit of approximately 40 to a lower limit of approximately 25; and
> Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility and especially school performance that is expected of the individual’s age-level and cultural group as determined by clinical judgment.

Profound intellectual disability (PID).


>Intellectual functioning below approximately 25; and
> Deficits in adaptive behavior that significantly limit a child’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence or social responsibility and especially school performance that is expected of the child's age-level and cultural group, as determined by clinical judgment.

Orthopedic Impairment (Physical and Health Disability)

Orthopedic impairment refers to a child whose severe orthopedic impairments adversely affects their educational performance to the degree that the child requires special education.

This term may include:


> Impairment caused by congenital anomalies, e.g., deformity or absence of some limb.
> Impairment caused by disease (poliomyelitis, osteogenesis imperfecta, muscular dystrophy, bone tuberculosis, etc.)
> Impairment from other causes, e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures.

Secondary disabilities may be present, including, but not limited to, visual impairment, hearing impairment, communication impairment and/or intellectual disability.

Other Health Impairments

Other health impairment means having 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 such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficient hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, or heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome, and
> Adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

In some cases, heightened awareness to environmental stimulus results in difficulties with starting, staying on and completing tasks; making transitions between tasks; interacting with others; following directions; producing work consistently; and, organizing multi-step tasks.

Significantly Developmentally Delayed

The term significant developmental delay refers to a delay in a child’s development in adaptive behavior, cognition, communication, motor development or emotional development to the extent that, if not provided with special intervention, the delay may adversely affect a child’s educational performance in age-appropriate activities. The term does not apply to children who are experiencing a slight or temporary lag in one or more areas of development, or a delay which is primarily due to environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage or lack of experience in age appropriate activities. The SDD eligibility may be used for children from ages three through nine (the end of the school year in which the child turns nine).

Specific Learning Disabilities

Specific learning disability is defined as 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 do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not apply to children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

The child with a specific learning disability has one or more serious academic deficiencies and does not achieve adequately according to age to meet State-approved grade-level standards. These achievement deficiencies must be directly related to a pervasive processing deficit and to the child’s response to scientific, research-based interventions. The nature of the deficit(s) is such that classroom performance is not correctable without specialized techniques that are fundamentally different from those provided by general education teachers, basic remedial/tutorial approaches, or other compensatory programs. This is clearly documented by the child’s response to instruction as demonstrated by a review of the progress monitoring available in general education and Student Support Team (SST) intervention plans as supported by work samples and classroom observations. The child's need for academic support alone is not sufficient for eligibility and does not override the other established requirements for determining eligibility.

Eligibility can be established in one or more of the following areas:


> Oral Expression
> Listening Comprehension
> Written Expression
> Basic Reading
> Reading Comprehension
> Math Calculation
> Math Reasoning
> Reading Fluency

Speech-Language Impairments

Speech or language impairment refers to a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language or voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. A speech or language impairment may be congenital or acquired. It refers to impairments in the areas of articulation, fluency, voice or language. Individuals may demonstrate one or any combination of speech or language impairments. A speech or language impairment may be a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities.

While there are disorders of oral communication, not all oral communication problems are disorders. Such communication problems as dialectal differences, limited English proficiency and maturational articulation and language delays are frequently brought to the attention of the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), but are unlikely to require remediation by the SLP. To determine when students who have oral communication problems should be referred to SLP, the classroom teacher and speech-language pathologist work as a team to make this decision.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) refers to 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 the child's educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments which are immediate or delayed in one or more areas, such as cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem solving, sensory, perceptual and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, speech and information processing. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative in nature, brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Visual Impairments

A child with a visual impairment is one whose vision, even with correction, adversely impacts a child’s educational performance. Examples are children whose visual impairments may result from congenital defects, eye diseases, or injuries to the eye. The term includes both visual impairment and blindness as follows:

Blind refers to a child whose visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction or who has a limitation in the field of vision that subtends anangle of 20 degrees. Some children who are legally blind have useful vision and may read print.

Visually impaired refers to a child whose visual acuity falls within the range of 20/70 to 20/200 in the better eye after correction or who have a limitation in the field of vision that adversely impacts educational progress.

Special education students may also receive related services in the areas of transportation, occupational therapy & physical therapy, music therapy, audiology, orientation & mobility, interpreter services, related vocational instruction, adaptive physical education, and assistive technology.


Destruction of Special Education Student Records

Bryan County Schools archives and stores special education student records for a limited time according to the Common Records Retention Schedules for School Systems, Department of Archives and History.

Any person desiring to obtain his/her records may contact Deborah Livingston, Special Education Secretary at 912-851-4014.