Special Education Services

  • Full Appropriate Educational Services

    The St. Mary Parish School Board has adopted a policy of free, appropriate public education for all exceptional children residing within its jurisdiction.  Through its Child Find Program, the Board continues to place a priority on locating, evaluating, and placing eligible exceptional children.

    Program Services

    Special Educational Services are being offered to all exceptional children from birth through 21 years of age.  These include infants with special needs and children who have intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments, autism, multiple disabilities, developmental delays, speech or language impairments, emotional disturbances, learning disabilities, visual impairments, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, traumatic brain injuries, and who are gifted, and/or talented. 

    Program models include self‑contained classes, combination classes, resource room services for the disabled and gifted/talented, speech therapy, adapted physical education, preschool classes, infant home‑based program, physical therapy, occupational therapy, extended school year program, hospital homebound instruction, and hearing-impaired services. 

    Other special educational services/projects include a surrogate parent program, Child Find, Special Olympics, Very Special Arts, community-based instruction, vocational transitional team, and assistive-technology. 

    For additional information regarding program services, visit the Special Education Department webpages.

    Screening Evaluation

    If a child is experiencing difficulty in school (behavioral, academic, communication, medical needs, etc.) and the parent or teacher requests one, a School Building Level Committee (SBLC) meeting may be scheduled at the school to discuss the concerns.  The SBLC is a general education data driven, decision making committee. Members include the child's classroom teacher, a parent or legal guardian, an administrator, the SBLC facilitator in the school, and any other persons requested by the school or the parents.  The purpose of the SBLC committee is to discuss concerns and to implement or review school-based interventions, designed to address the child's problems.  Referrals for Section 504-eligibility consideration are made through SBLC, as are referrals to Pupil Appraisal.  All requests for evaluation must be processed through the SBLC.

    Parents are notified of the screening and if any further evaluation services are recommended, the parents are asked to sign appropriate permission forms.  The law mandates that referrals be processed as quickly as possible and that no evaluation take more than 60 working days (about 3 months) from receipt of parental permission for the evaluation to be completed.

    Students must be evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team and classified as exceptional before special education services can be provided.  The evaluation team may be composed of a psychologist, educational diagnostician, speech pathologist, social worker, audiologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and/or an adapted physical education teacher.  Request for screening may come from a parent, teacher, principal, designated school personnel, physicians, or any other professionals interested in the child’s well-being.

    If you have any concerns about screening, first call your child's teacher or the SBLC Facilitator at the school your child attends.   If you have further questions about the evaluation process, you may contact Bonnie Miller, Coordinator of Pupil Appraisal Services, at (337) 828‑1767 or e-mail bmiller@stmaryk12.net.

    Due Process

    Current federal law requires that parents be given notice before the school identifies, evaluates, places, or designs a program for any child requiring special education services.

    An evaluation cannot begin without the parents' or legal guardians’ written consent.  Parents can refuse to have their child evaluated.  If the school believes an evaluation is in the best interest of the child and the parent refuses the assessment, an impartial hearing officer may request an informal or formal conference.  The parents may appeal this decision.

    If parents consent to an evaluation, the findings must be explained to the parents.  If they disagree with the findings, they may request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).

    Before placement in a special education program, an IEP‑Placement meeting must be held for writing the Individualized Educational Program for the child.  The parent is a participant in these conferences.  If the placement is to be changed, the parent must approve the changes before their implementation.

    The above are “excerpts” from Due Process Information given to all parents who give permission for their child to be evaluated.  We encourage you to read the information whenever you have reason to request an evaluation for your child.

    If you desire a copy of the above information, contact Debra McClarity at the Office of Special Education at (337) 828‑1767 or e-mail dmclarity@stmaryk12.net.

    IEP Placement

    IEP-Placement Conferences:  Within thirty calendar days after the written initial evaluation report is disseminated, the IEP‑Placement meeting will be held at the school the child attends.  In the case of a home-based preschooler or hospital/homebound placement, the meeting may be held in the child's home.  The IEP/ITP‑Placement Committee will be composed of a representative of the Office of Special Educational Services, (who will conduct the meeting and explain the results of the evaluation and programs available), the parents, or legal guardians, the principal, the classroom teacher (who will describe classroom behavior and performance), the special education teacher (who will write the IEP), and other individuals at the discretion of the parent or school system.  In addition, related services personnel will attend if appropriate.  The parents will be encouraged to contribute to the writing of the IEP with suggestions of what they would like their child to accomplish in the program.

    If at any time the parent has a concern about the placement or wishes the child to be dismissed from a special education program, the parent should contact Debra McClarity, Federal Programs Director, or Bonnie Miller, Coordinator of Pupil Appraisal Services at (337) 828‑1767.  After receiving the request, another IEP-Placement meeting will be scheduled.

    Child Find

    The St. Mary Parish School Board in cooperation with other public agencies is making an effort to identify, locate and evaluate:

    • All children under its jurisdiction suspected of having a disability, and in need of special education and related services.
    • All children under its jurisdiction suspected of being gifted or talented in visual arts, music or theatre and in need of special education and related services.

    This includes children enrolled in public schools, private schools, public/private preschool/daycare programs, or not enrolled in a school.  Inquiries and referrals should be made to the Child Find Coordinator, Bonnie Miller, at (337) 828‑1767 or e-mail bmiller@stmaryk12.net.

    Dropout Prevention

    St. Mary Parish is striving to prevent special education dropouts.  Potential dropouts are identified and strategies/techniques are used to prevent the students from dropping out of school.

    An IEP Committee member is required to conduct an exit interview with the special education student who wishes to drop out and his/her parent/guardian.  Students who leave Special Education without graduating are informed of their rights and encouraged to return to school.  A letter is sent to special service dropouts once a year.

    For further information concerning dropouts, contact the Office of Special Education (337) 828‑1767.

    Title IX

    St. Mary Parish is in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 mandates.  These mandates dictate with certain limited exceptions that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

    The School Board has designated one person to coordinate the non-discrimination efforts for the school system as well as to ensure and assure that prompt and equitable resolution of student complaints alleging discrimination be effectively processed through the Board's established grievance procedure.

    Parents with questions or concerns about Title IX should contact Barbara Lancelin, Title IX Coordinator, at the Office of Special Education at (337) 828-1767.

    Harassment Policy

    The St. Mary Parish School Board opposes any and all forms of intimidation and/or harassment.  Harassment is a form of misconduct, which undermines the integrity of academic relationships of a school.  Thus, the learning environment requisite to a school's mission must be one in which all individuals are free to develop relationships, learn without fear of intimidation, humiliation and degradation from the unwanted and unacceptable behavior of another which is intended to or has the effect of harassing, degrading, or intimidating the listener on the basis of religion or on the basis of personal, immutable characteristics including, but not limited to racist behavior, sexual harassment, physical and/or verbal abuse, and personally damaging statements made about others.  Therefore, strong disciplinary steps will be taken against any member of a school's educational community who engages in any type of harassment. 

    Persons with concerns about harassment should contact Debra McClarity, Federal Programs Director, at 337-828-1767.



    Updated 06/08/2023
    Bonnie Miller