Saint Paul Public Schools’ Special Education Department commits to the elimination in the disparity of outcomes for all students with disabilities. We will continue to do this by using data to enhance instructional practices that increase student engagement and achievement. Our specific focus is African American male scholars, American Indian scholars, and scholars dually qualified for Special Education and English Learner services where the greatest outcome inequities exist.
If you have questions regarding your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and services, please check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) or contact us.
- Disability-Specific Programs
- Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
- Extended School Year (ESY)
- Non-Public Schools
- Related and Itinerant Services
Developmental Cognitive Disability (DCD) program
A developmental cognitive disability program is designed for students who have significant delays intellectually and who have deficits in adaptive behavior or functional skills.
This program features
- Teachers that are trained in researched-based curriculum and strategies that help students that need academic content linked to real life activities.
- Curriculum (alternate achievement standards) and alternate assessments that incorporate functional skills and related services to assist in student development.
DCD Resource Room Programs:
Students are with their peers in General Education classes for more than half the day and receive additional support from a teacher specifically trained to work on adapting/modifying their academics, work on independence and functional skills, and address other educational needs.
DCD Specialized Programs:
Students spend 60% of the school day in a separate Special Education classroom with a teacher specifically trained to work with students who have significant academic, functional, communication, motor, and health needs.
Emotional Behavioral Disorder (EBD) program
Emotional behavioral disorder program is designed to help students who are withdrawn, have anxiety, have aggression or disordered thought patterns.
This program features:
- Trained staff that work with students on building consistent routine by using positive behavior reinforcements and support as well as individualized behavior plans.
- Nurture Heart, an adopted framework, is used to work with the students when they have emotional reactions.
EBD Resource Room Programs:
Designed for students that need additional support in their General Education classroom. Students receive indirect consultation from a specially licensed Special Education teacher, paraprofessional or in a co-taught instructional model.
EBD Specialized Programs:
Students are taught in structured environment to help reduce high levels of withdrawal, anxiety, and/or aggression. Students spend 60% of their school day in a separate Special Education classroom with a teacher trained to work with students that have significant emotional and/or behavioral responses and academic needs. Students continuously work toward accessing General Education.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) program
The Autism program is designed for students who need support social interaction, communication and the presence of restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behaviors, interests and activities.
ASD Resource Room Programs:
Students are in General Education classroom with their peers and receive additional support from teachers trained to use ASD researched-based strategies to adapt/modify academics, increase independence, learn social/communication skills, and address other educational needs.
ASD Specialized Programs:
Students spend 60% of the school day in a separate Special Education classroom with a teacher trained to use ASD researched-based strategies to teach students who have significant academic, functional, social, communication, motor, and/or health needs.
Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) Services
Specialized services are based on student need, from full inclusion in general education classrooms to site-based specialized programs.
Itinerant DHH Services:
Itinerant teachers provide services to students in schools and homes throughout the district. The itinerant teachers support students' full inclusion in their neighborhood school with small group and individual instruction.
Infants, toddlers, and preschool age children who are Deaf or have a hearing loss access services in natural settings including home, child care or preschool. (Click here to learn more about Early Childhood Special Education.)
Site-based Specialized DHH Programs
Site-based programs in preschool, elementary, secondary, and transition are designed for students who are Deaf or have a hearing loss. Specialized services include teachers, related service providers and support staff who use sign language, sign language interpreting, captioning and visual supports.
ESY Specialized Program Summer Sites - For students who qualify ESY
Early Childhood Special Education - located at Rondo ESCE
- Half Day AM: 8:30 to 11:00 (150 minutes)
- Half Day PM: 11:00 to 1:30 (150 minutes) for 3 and 4 year olds
- Full Day for 4 year olds- 300 minutes (times to be announced)
- Monday through Friday
- June 21 to July 15
- K-8 Students - located at Rondo ESY
- 7:30 to 12:30 (300 minutes)
- Monday through Friday
- June 21 to July 15
- High School students & Focus Beyond Pathway 2 - located at Washington Technology Magnet
- 8:45 am to 1:45 pm (300 minutes)
- Monday through Friday
- June 22 to July 15- Start date change due to location change
- Students enrolled at Bridge View who qualify ESY & Focus Beyond Pathway 1 - located at RiverEast
- 8:45 am to 1:45 pm (300 minutes)
- Monday through Friday
- June 21 to July 15
- Students enrolled at Journeys who qualify for ESY - Gordon Parks
- 8:45 to 1:45 (300 minutes)
- Monday through Friday
- June 22 to July 15
Note: The first day of Extended School Year (ESY) for program sites will be 6/21/22. On 4/19/22, the SPPS Board of Education approved a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a School District holiday which will be observed on 6/20/22.
K-8 SPPS Summer Learning Programs and Credit Recovery
- ESY services align with calendar of SPPS Summer Learning Program
ECSE Inclusive Sites
- Discuss with your child's IEP manager
St. Paul, MN 55102 Please encourage your staff to contact the psychologist assigned to your building to discuss referral concerns before filling out the Pupil Performance Review Form. Questions about the referral/assessment process can be addressed to Damion Smith, Lead Psychologist, at 651-744-8068.
Information for Parents of NonPublic Students
Special Education Services for Students Attending NonPublic Schools
The Saint Paul Public Schools provides special education and related services to eligible students attending nonpublic schools with disabilities, as required by Section 34 CFR 300.134 of the regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Special Education and related services are provided to children identified as having a disability in one of the 13 disability categories:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Blind—Visually Impaired
- Deaf Blind
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Developmental Cognitive Disabilities
- Developmental Delay
- Emotional or Behavioral Disorder
- Other Health Disability
- Physical Disability
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Children suspected of having a disability can be referred for a comprehensive special education evaluation by parents, administrators, teachers or other private school staff. The “child find” process initially involves gathering information about the child, his/her background and educational concerns. To make a referral contact the SPPS Office of Specialized Services at 651-767-8321.
An evaluation plan is created with input from parents and educational staff. Since the evaluation plan covers multiple domains, several professionals may be involved in completing the testing. The plan lists the areas to be assessed, evaluation tools to be administered, and the title of the professional assigned to complete the testing. Parents must sign in agreement with the evaluation plan before any testing begins. Once the evaluation plan is signed, the team has 30 school days to complete the testing and provide evaluation results to parents in the form of an Evaluation Report.
If the child qualifies for special education and related services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed that includes goals and objectives focused on educational needs identified in the evaluation. Services may include direct or indirect service as well as accommodations to general and special education. Progress reports and IEP meetings are held to inform parents and administrators of student growth. Parents must sign in agreement with the IEP before services can begin.
If direct special education services are listed in the IEP, the services are arranged and typically provided at a public school site as determined by the Saint Paul Public Schools. Additionally, Transportation from the private school to the public school is provided.
Developmental and Adapted Physical Education Teacher
What is Developmental Adapted Physical Education (DAPE)?
DAPE is specialized instruction to allow for safe and successful gross motor participation in physical education or special education setting for those students who meet initial Minnesota eligibility criteria. St Paul Public Schools follows the philosophy and standards of the National Association for Sports and Physical Education when determining if the development or achievement and independence in school, home and community settings are inadequate to allow success in the regular Physical Education. We assess looking at the whole child and any needs identified in the following domains: psychomotor, cognitive, affective, and physical fitness. (NASPE, 2013)
According to our Minnesota DAPE Best Practice Operational Guide, (Sept, 2012) Developmental Adapted Physical education is specifically designed physical education instruction and services for students with disabilities who have a significant delay or disorder in physical development. Developmental Adapted Physical Education instruction for pupils age 3-21 may include development of physical and motor fitness, fundamental motor skills and patterns, individual and group games and sports. Students with conditions such as obesity, temporary injuries, and short term illness or disabilities are termed special needs students. Special needs students are not eligible for Developmental Adapted Physical Education.
The DAPE teacher is a direct service provider, not a related service provider, because physical education for children with disabilities is a federally mandated component of special education services. This means that physical education needs to be provided to the students with a disability as part of the special education services that a child receives. This is in contrast to physical therapy and occupational therapy which are related services. (MN DAPE Best Practice Operational Guide, September, 2012)
Occupational Therapy (OT) for Ages 0-3
Children ages birth to three provide services in the home, daycare, and community settings. OT focuses on students’ fine motor, functional, adaptive behavior, play, self help skills, sensory processing abilities, positioning and assistive technology. Occupational Therapist in birth to 3 work not only with the child, but also with their families, caregivers, and community agencies. The OT provides resources and assist with coaching the family and caregivers with their child’s daily routines in their home and community. A OT could be a primary service provider for children in birth to 3.
Occupational Therapy (OT) for Ages 3-21
Children/students ages three to 21 are usually provided services in a pre-school, school or for some children ages 3-5 in their daycare or home. School Based OT focuses on students’ fine motor, functional, self help skills (such as bathrooming, self feeding, dressing), sensory processing abilities, positioning and assistive technology needs for written expression, organization, self care and sensory processing. Occupational Therapists also assist in adaptations or the modification of educational tasks, environments or routines during the school or child’s day.
Occupational therapy is a related service, to receive OT in the schools, students must first qualify for special education and then secondly demonstrate needs that impact their ability to function in their educational environment as determined by the program OT with input from the educational team. For a specific time or episode of need, the occupational therapist will use a continuum of service (direct, indirect or both) to support student needs.
Scope of Practice
Occupational Therapy (OT) as an educational support service can be quite different from an OT in a medical setting. School based therapists focus on assisting students to acquire the functional abilities necessary to access educational materials and adapt to their educational environment. The focus is to build skills, adapt tasks, expectations and environments in order to facilitate the student’s success within their educational setting. Occupational therapist will train/support other providers and staff to carry out procedures or techniques to improve student performance.
Physical Therapy (PT) for Ages 0-3
Children ages birth to three are provided services in the home, daycare, and community settings. PT focuses on students’ physical and adaptive development, specifically related to the ability to acquire independent mobility and transitional movement, access play/learning opportunities and maintain optimal physical health (flexibility, circulation and respiratory function) through movement, positioning, and the use of adaptive equipment. PT includes services to address the promotion of perceptual motor development, fitness and endurance, and functional motor skills. PT offers recommendations for adaptive equipment to promote learning and independence.
Physical Therapist in birth to 3 work not only with the child, but also with their families, caregivers, and community agencies. The PT provides resources and assists with coaching the family and caregivers with their child’s daily routines in their home and community. A PT could be a primary service provider for children in birth to 3.
Physical Therapy (PT) for Ages 3-21
Children/students ages three to 21 are usually provided services in a pre-school, school or for some children ages 3-5 in their daycare or home. School Based PT focuses on students’ physical and adaptive development, specifically related to the ability to acquire independent mobility and transitional movement, access play/learning opportunities and maintain optimal physical health (flexibility, circulation and respiratory function) through movement, positioning, and the use of adaptive equipment. PT includes services to address the promotion of perceptual motor development, fitness and endurance, and functional motor skills. PT offers recommendations for adaptive equipment to promote learning and independence.
Physical therapy is a related service. To receive PT in the schools, students must first qualify for special education and then secondly demonstrate needs that impact their ability to function independently in their educational environment as determined by the educational PT; with input from the educational team. The physical therapist will use a continuum of service (direct, indirect or both) to support student needs for a specified time or episode of need.
Scope of Practice
Physical Therapy (PT) as an educational support service can be quite different from an PT in a medical setting. School based therapists focus on assisting students to acquire the functional abilities necessary to access educational materials and move around and adapt to their educational environment. The focus is to build skills, adapt tasks, expectations and environments in order to facilitate the student’s success within their educational setting. It is the role of the physical therapist to train/support other providers and staff to safely carry out procedures or techniques to improve students’ performance.
School PsychologistSchool Psychologists evaluate eligibility and continuing need for special education services as a part of a multidisciplinary team. School Psychologists evaluate and complete assessments that address various needs in cognitive and social-emotional functioning areas.
Role of a School Psychologist:
- Administer psychological and educational tests, and other assessment procedures as part of comprehensive special education evaluations;
- Interpret assessment results;
- Obtain, integrate, and interpret information about student behavior and conditions related to learning;
- Consult and collaborate with staff and families to support student’s needs in the classroom setting;
- Participate as a member of the Student Assistance Team (SAT) to provide support in developing appropriate interventions to support academic and social-emotional needs in the classroom setting
Student Population Served:
School Psychologists evaluate students as part of initial special education evaluations and reevaluations with parent/guardian consent. School Psychologists work with Student Assistance Teams (SAT) to develop interventions for general education students. Parents/guardians are notified when students are referred to SAT.
School Social Worker
School social workers help students to address barriers to learning through an ecological perspective in which the student is viewed within the context of the classroom, the family, the community and culture. School social workers understand and assess the functioning of an individual student within the context of multiple environments. School social workers provide services to all students related to the student’s social and emotional adjustment to school, family, community and society. School social workers are the link between the home, school and community providing direct and indirect services to students, families and school personnel to promote and support students’ academic and social success.
School social workers are prepared to provide a breadth of services. They may provide ongoing or short term crisis intervention directly to students. School social workers serve as a resource for students and their families when social emotional and behavioral concerns interfere with school performance. Inclusive would be possible life threatening situations, immediate loss of a significant person in the student's life, extreme emotional upset, or a traumatic stress situation. The school social worker may provide short term intervention and/or consultation to students, parents, classroom teachers, or administrators regarding implementing pre-referral interventions, referrals to the student assistance team or child study team or appropriate community resources. All SPPS social workers can provide training on Trauma Informed Care (TIC) to staff as well as incorporate TIC concepts into interventions and supports.
The role of the school social worker in the school system is determined partially by the funding source of the position. School social workers whose positions are funded by regular education funds serve primarily regular education students. Like special education social workers, they provide individual and group counseling, teach social skills, and work to promote school success, including assisting with supporting student attendance. All school social workers may assist in crisis such as homelessness, death in school, the threat of suicide, or suspected child maltreatment. In addition, all SPPS social workers can provide training on Trauma Informed Care to staff.
Speech and Language Pathologist
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) in the school setting are an integral part of a school’s special education team. SLPs identify students who have communication disorders in the areas of articulation, language, voice and fluency (stuttering) and provide both direct and consultative special education services to children ages birth through twenty-one. The development of communication skills is crucial for success in schools, especially in the areas of literacy and social skills. When problems with articulation, language, voice quality or fluency adversely affect a child’s educational progress, the SLP works with the team to address the specific needs of the student.
According to Minnesota State special education criteria, a child may meet eligibility as a student with a speech-language disorders in four areas: articulation disorder, language disorder, voice disorder or fluency disorder. Students with other primary disabilities (e.g. developmental delays, learning disabilities, physical impairments, mental cognitive impairments or autism) may demonstrate communication problems that co-occur with their primary disability and require direct or indirect specialized services from an SLP.
SLPs work with students with identified speech and/or language impairments at all St. Paul schools and sites. In early ed, this includes homes, daycares and other community settings. These services may include screenings, pre-referral consultations, referral for evaluation and services. In keeping with federal and state mandates, SLPs design intervention activities that support state and district standards and grade level expectations, and often use curriculum-based intervention with materials adapted from the general education classroom.
Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s building SLP if they have questions or concerns regarding their child’s speech, language or academic progress.
Physical/Health Disabilities Teacher
The Role of the Physical/Health Disabilities Teacher
The Physical/Health Disabilities (P/HD) teacher is licensed to provide services for students age birth to 21, and is involved with educational evaluations and if they meet state criteria, interventions for students who have a medical diagnosis physical disability. Physically Impaired (PI) is defined as a medically diagnosed, chronic physical impairment - either congenital or acquired - that may adversely affect physical or academic functioning and result in the need for special education and related services (MN Rule 3525.1337). By law, a teacher licensed in P/HD must participate on student evaluations and subsequent education plan when considering the category of Physically Impaired (PI).
As a member of an evaluation and/or IEP team, a P/HD teacher addresses educational needs that support students full access and participation in activity similar to their classmates.
The itinerant teacher for the physically impaired, will consult with the educational staff who work with a student with a physical impairment. The P/HD teacher provides indirect consultative service for students who meet the special education criteria for physically impaired.
Consultative services include:
- Providing information about the student’s medical diagnosis and educational considerations.
- Based on the educational implications related to the medical diagnosis, consulting with team to identify appropriate accommodations and/or modifications.
- Assisting the classroom teacher set realistic expectations for the student.
- Collaborating with other team members, to assist with the evaluation process and IEP accommodations.
- Assisting teams with identifying students who may need to follow the building evacuation plan for students with limited mobility.
- What do parents do when their child is struggling in school?
- What is special education?
- Who is eligible to receive special education services?
- How do I find out if my child is eligible to receive special education services?
- What will happen with the results of the evaluation?
- What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
- What information is included in an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
- What is the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)?
- Where can I review the continuous improvement monitoring process?
When a parent is concerned that their child may have a disability and is not making expected progress in development or in school the parent can also request that an evaluation be done by specialists in special education. The evaluation involves special testing, observations, parent and school staff reports. A child must meet certain requirements when tested to be able to receive special education services.
Special education uses special instructional methods and, when needed, special services from a speech clinician, school social worker and other specialists to meet the individual needs of a child with a disability.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities. Schools must evaluate students suspected of having a disability.
IDEA has been amended several times since Congress first passed it in 1975 and covers children from infancy until they are 21 years of age, at no cost to the parents. The goals of IDEA 2004 are to:
- Ensure that all children with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), just like their peers.
- Ensure that schools provide special education services in the child’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
- Ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected.
- Assist states in the implementation of a statewide, systems of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.
- Ensure educators and parents have the necessary tools to improve educational results.
- Assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities.
Not every child who appears to struggle in school will receive special education services under IDEA.
IDEA lists 13 different disability categories under which 3-21-year-olds may be eligible for special education and related services. The disability categories listed in IDEA are:
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Blind/Visually Impaired (VI)
- Deaf-Blind (DB)
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH)
Developmental Cognitive Disabilities - mild/moderate (DCD)
- Developmental Cognitive Disabilities - severe/profound (DCD)
- Developmental Delay (DD)
Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD)
- Other Health Disabilities (OHD)
- Physically Impaired (PI)
- Severely Multiply Impaired (SMI)
- Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)
- Speech or Language Impairments (S/LI)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
The request for an evaluation can be made by the parent, the school, therapist, or other individual(s) who are involved in the education or care of the student. The evaluation not only determines if a student has an educational disability, but also shows what services and supports that the child might need.
In order to start an evaluation, the school must provide a notice of proposed evaluation form, called a Prior Written Notice/Consent to Evaluate, that outlines the assessment tools that will be used in the evaluation, such as an intellectual assessment, observations, parent interviews, academic testing, motor assessments, and anything else that appears to be a need that will be completed within the evaluation. The district must receive the parent’s written consent before proceeding with the evaluation.
Once written consent has been provided, the evaluation team has 30 school days to complete the initial evaluation for school age students.
Once the evaluation pieces are complete, a comprehensive evaluation report is written by the team. A copy of the evaluation report is provided to the parents by the due date.
**If the evaluation results show and the team determines that the child does indeed have a disability and has special education needs, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is created and will be based off of the evaluation.
A comprehensive evaluation is completed every 3 years.
**If the evaluation results show and the team determines that the child “not eligible” to receive special education services, under IDEA, the school system must tell the parent(s) in writing and explain why your child has been found “not eligible,” as well as provide you with information about what you can do if you disagree with the decision. Being that your child was evaluated and continues to show concerns, meeting with the teacher and other school personnel can help to determine what can be done within the regular education classroom to address the concerns further. This could include involvement in remedial programs, tutoring, etc.
An IEP is an “Individualized Education Program” that is written every year for a child with a disability. It is written by a team that includes the parent, special education professionals and an administrator. The IEP describes a child’s strengths and current skills, what skills will be worked on during a school year, the services that the child will receives and other help such as transportation, adjustments in the classroom , etc that will be provided to the child.
As part of the IEP team, it is important as a parent to discuss your child’s strengths and abilities as well as share your concerns regarding your child. The parent must agree with what is in the IEP before school staff can carry out the IEP.
According to the law, an IEP must include the following statements regarding your child:
- His or her present level of educational performance, which could include information concerning: academic achievement, social adaptation, prevocational and vocational skills, sensory and motor skills, daily living skills, speech and language skills
- Specific special education and related services to be provided, who will be providing them, and how often they will be provided
- Dates for when the services will begin and how long they will continue
- Percentage of the school day in which your child will participate in regular education and special education programs—least restrictive environment
- Annual goals along with short-term instructional and measurable objectives that assist the child in achieving the goals
- Transition plan, when applicable (used in grades 9 and above)
- State assessment information
It is the law that a child with a disability be educated with children without disabilities as much as appropriate. The child with a disability must receive special education services so that the child will make progress on IEP goals and objectives. This can require that the student be removed from the general education classroom as appropriate.
News and Events
Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC)
Monday evenings from 6-8 p.m.
- in-person- Administration Building, 360 Colborne St., Saint Paul, MN 55102
- virtual via Zoom
Attend as a guest or become a member. RSVP kindly requested but not required.
SEAC works to make a difference in the lives and outcomes of students with disabilities by:
- using our shared knowledge and experience
- informing and educating each other
- providing opportunities to learn and connect
- promoting collaboration with educators, departments and programs, and community organizations
- influencing change in SPPS
Other ways to connect: