This section provides sources of information to help families prepare and plan for services for children with Special Education needs.
Choosing a SchoolSpecial Education in Saint Paul Public Schools recognizes the importance of designing an educational experience to meet the unique needs of each student from birth to age 21.If your child is in a Special Education program and is in a resource program:
- You can apply and receive transportation if accepted to any school in your Area. Use the School Finder tool on our website to find a school in your Area.
- You can apply to a school outside of your Area, however, you will have to provide your own transportation.
- You can apply to a district magnet and are eligible to receive transportation.
A Resource Model is applied to all special education disabilities. It is when a student is in both general education and in special education. Resource Models apply to students who have been designated a Federal Setting I or a Federal Setting II.
A Specialized Program is applied primarily to ASD (Austim Spectrum Disorder), DCD (Developmental Cognitively Delayed) and EBD (Emotional/Behavioral Disorder) special education disability areas. Students might have another primary disability; however the Specialized Program is when a student needs the majority of their day in a Specialized Program within special education. Specialized Programs apply to students who have been designated a Federal Setting III.
Every child eligible for special education services has an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP team, which includes parents, focuses on helping each student develop the academic, functional and social skills they need to become as self-sufficient as possible.
For all families in special education, transportation will be provided to the area programs. If the parent chooses to go outside of their area, transportation will be required by the parents.
If your child is in a specialized program, you will have a designated program location within you Area. See the Special Education Parent Guide for more information on what services are available in your area. Parents who want to choose a specialized program outside of their Area, can do so through the application process. The parent will need to contact the Special Education department requesting their choice for an out-of-area specialized program. The Special Education department will work with theStudent Placement Center to determine if both the Special Education and General Education programs requested have spaces available. The parent also has to agree to transport their student to the new program if accepted.
Finally, if your child is in a specialized program you will have a designated program for your community area. Parents who want to choose a specialized program outside of their area, can do so through the application process. The parent will need to contact the special education department requesting that their choice for an out-of-area specialized program. The special education department will work with the placement office to determine if the specialized program has available spaces and the general education classroom has available space. The parent also has to agree to transport their student to the new program if accepted.
What is a Specialized Program?
For more information on resource and specialized programs, click here.
Opportunities for Special Education Families to Connect
Special Education Family Engagement events are planned throughout the school year for families of students with disabilities to connect with other families and resources, and learn additional ways to support their student for increased success.
Special Education Process
Saint Paul Public Schools provides special education and related services according to the mandates of the Federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act (2004) and the State of Minnesota's rules and statutes. The Saint Paul Public Schools' Total Special Education System (TSES) provides information about special education policies, procedures, and programs.
The Special Education Administration of the Minnesota Department of Education provides school districts like ours with detailed procedures for the delivery of special education services.
Special Education services are provided under the following areas of eligibility:
- Speech/Language Impaired
- Developmental Cognitive Disabilities: Mild-Moderate
- Developmental Cognitive Disabilities: Severe-Profound
- Physically Impaired
- Deaf-Hard of Hearing
- Visually Impaired
- Specific Learning Disabilities
- Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
- Other Health Disabilities
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Developmental Delay: Birth - 2 yrs. old, 3 - 6 yrs. old
- Tramatic Brain Injury
- Severely Multiply Impaired
Services and accommodations not related to the disabilities listed above may be provided through Section 504 plans.
Section 504 Plans
Saint Paul Public Schools is committed to providing a free and appropriate public education to each student with a disability within the school district’s jurisdiction. It is the intent of the district to ensure that students who have disabilities within the definition of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are identified, evaluated, and provided with appropriate education services.
For more information, please contact your child's school and ask to speak to the Section 504 building contact.
Notification and Consent for Reimbursement
Federal law (34C.F.R. 300.154) ensures that medical assistance pays for IEP health related services. Minnesota law (MS 125A.21) requires school districts to seek reimbursement from insurers and similar third parties for Individualized Education Program (IEP) health related services. IEP health related services may include assessments/evaluations and services for speech/language/hearing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, personal care assistance, assistive technology devices, interpreter services, special transportation, and mental health. This Minnesota law helps school districts access more funding for students with disabilities. To comply with the law, Saint Paul Public Schools is required to send you this notice/form.
- The District must obtain consent to seek reimbursement for IEP health related services from parents, or legal guardian. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has indicated that consent may be obtained through the school district consent form, or the Minnesota Health Care Program (MHCP) enrollment/re-enrollment form for medical assistance or MinnesotaCare (MA/MC)
- We will not bill your private insurance. If you have a combination of MA/MC and private insurance we will receive a statewide denial from MDE, or your insurance company, before billing MA/MC.
- Saint Paul Public Schools will access Medical Assistance (MA) or MinnesotaCare (MC) for reimbursement for IEP health related services that a child receives. There will be NO cost to the family and this will NOT affect the MA/MC coverage, including TEFRA, waivered programs, service limits or thresholds. The District may not require a family to sign up for MA/MC.
- Parents, or legal guardians, may ask for a copy of the records disclosed to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
- A consent may be revoked, in writing, at any time without affecting a child’s services. Revocation is not retroactive.
We appreciate your support and cooperation. If you have questions, you may call the Third Party Reimbursement Office 651-767-8191.
Third Party Reimbursement for Health-Related Services
Since July 1, 2000, Minnesota school districts are required to bill for Individualized Education Program (IEP) health related services that are listed on an IEP.
Covered IEP health related services through Medical Assistance include speech-language pathology and audiology services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing services, mental health services (social work services, and school psychologist services), Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS), personal care assistant (PCA)/paraprofessional services, interpreter services (including spoken language, and sign language), assistive technology devices and special transportation.
Services eligible for payment must meet all of the following criteria:
- Medically necessary
- Provided to an eligible MA or MinnesotaCare enrollee under the age of 21
- Included in the child/student's IEP or IFSP
- Health related services necessary for the child/student to benefit from his/her education
- Provided by qualified service providers within the service provider's scope of practice and/or licensure/certification
- Documented electronically on a service log in EdPlan
- Authorized by the child/student's IEP/IFSP/IIIP team; and
- Provided by the school during the school day
IEP Health Related Services eligible for Medical Assistance payment must meet the criteria from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) IEP Technical Assistance Guide
For assistance please contact the Third Party Reimbursement Office.
- Rob Arnold: 651-767-8189 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dina Funk: 651-767-8191 or email@example.com
- Kari Thein: 651-295-3593 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: 651-228-3649 (be sure to include the area code)
Address: 360 Colborne Street, 4th Floor, room 420, St. Paul, MN 55102
Assistive Technology Resources for Parents
Assistive Technology (AT) includes a broad range of tools from pencil grips to reading apps to high tech speech generating devices. Assistive Technology is defined 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 functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." in the Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Tech Act). All IEPs must consider a student's needs for assistive technology to recieve a free and appropriate education. If you have questions about assistive technology for your student, contact your student's IEP team.
Assistive Technology tips are compiled in SPPS Tech Talks for Parents which can be found in the links below.
Tech Talks for Parents
Augmentative Communication Resources for ParentsAugmentive and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems are powerful tools to help students learn to communicate. AAC helps students learn to understand and use vocabulary. AAC has even been shown to help students develop speech skills. But AAC isn't magic. Students, their teachers and their families need to practice using AAC to learn to how communicate with it.
Research based strategies can help students and their partners practice using AAC to learn to communicate more effectively. Resources for learning these strategies are available in the link below. These AAC Strategy resources have been translated into Hmong, Karen, Somali, and Spanish. Both the Talk and Point strategy (TAP) and Following the Child's Lead strategies are available.. More AAC Research Based strategies will be added in the future.
Communication is a basic human right. The National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities (NJC) developed the following statement, "All people with a disability of any extent or severity have a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their existence. Beyond this general right, a number of specific communication rights should be ensured in all daily interactions and interventions involving persons who have severe disabilities. To participate fully in communication interactions, each person has these fundamental communication rights: For a full list of the statement, go to https://www.asha.org/NJC/Communication-Bill-of-Rights/
Communication Bill of Rights
In 2009, Minnesota Statutes regarding restrictive procedures were passed, and were required to be fully implemented effective August 1, 2011. In 2013, 2014, and 2016, legislative amendments were made to the statutes governing the use of restrictive procedures. These provisions pertain to physical holding and seclusion, and apply to children with disabilities in public schools. The following documents are designed to assist staff in the emergency use and documentation of restrictive procedures in Saint Paul Public Schools. Use of restrictive procedures must be documented in the SPPS Restrictive Procedures online system.
The SPPS Restrictive Procedures Oversight Committee meets quarterly. The following are members for 2023-2024:
Restrictive Procedures may only be used by the following staff:
- Heidi Nistler, Office of Specialized Services, Assistant Superintendent
- Amy Johnson, Office of Specialized Services Assistant Director
- Dr. Leslie Hitchens, Principal of Maxfield Elementary School
- Tom Lucy, Social Worker
- Christina Scholl, ECSE Coach/Restrictive Procedures
- Theodore Larson, District Coach/Restrictive Procedures Training/PBIS
- Christina Richardson, Special Education Due Process Coach
To meet the requirements of the new statute, staff who use restrictive procedures shall complete training in the following skills and knowledge areas:
- Licensed special education teacher
- School social worker
- School psychologist
- Behavior analyst (certified by the National Behavior Analyst Cert. Board)
- Person with MA degree in behavior analysis
- Other licensed educational professionals, paraprofessionals, or mental health professionals who have completed a state-approved training program
Training requirements for use of restrictive procedures shall be met through the successful completion of the training sessions listed below. Trainings will be held throughout the school year.
- Positive behavioral intervention
- Communicative intent of behaviors
- Alternatives to restrictive procedures, including techniques to identify events and environmental factors that may escalate behavior
- De-escalation methods
- Standards for using restrictive procedures
- Obtaining emergency medical assistance
- The physiological and psychological impact of physical holding and seclusion
- Monitoring and responding to a child’s physical signs of distress when physical holding is being used
- Recognizing the symptoms of and interventions that may cause positional asphyxia when physical holding is used.
- Nonviolent Crisis Intervention and Restrictive Procedures Skills Training - This includes an eight-hour introductory training, plus refreshers every other year
- Restrictive Procedures Standards and Documentation Training
- Restrictive Procedures Skills Training