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.


    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 Office of Special Education Website at www.stmaryk12.net/specialservices.


    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 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 Anna Bonin, Coordinator of Pupil Appraisal Services, at (337) 828-1767 or e-mail abonin@stmaryk12.net.


    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 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, Supervisor of Special Education or Anna Bonin, Coordinator of Pupil Appraisal Services at (337) 828-1767.  After receiving the request, another IEP-Placement meeting will be scheduled.


    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, Anna Bonin, at (337) 828-1767 or e-mail abonin@stmaryk12.net.

    During the course of a school year, a student may (due to illness or injury) be unable to attend school for a prolonged period. When a student has to be out of his or her classroom for a long period of time, he or she is bound to be concerned, perhaps frustrated by the prospect of being so far behind in academic work upon returning to school.

    To help fulfill the basic health and instructional needs for the student of St. Mary Parish, the Department of Special Educational Services offers a Hospital Homebound program.

    A student is eligible for Hospital Homebound instruction when he or she is projected to be unable to attend school as a result of physical illness or accident for a minimum period of two weeks (10 school days). The student is not dropped from the school roll and is counted present and in attendance while on Hospital Homebound.

    If a student is in need of this service, parents/guardians have certain responsibilities. They are as follows: 

    1. A parent/guardian or adult family member should contact the school the child attends and ask to speak with the SBLC facilitator.
    2. This facilitator will secure the necessary information in order to give the parent the appropriate forms.
    3. When the "Physician’s Form" is received by the family, it should be taken to the child's doctor (physician). Upon completion of the form by the physician, the form should then be returned to the SBLC facilitator at the school.
    4. The facilitator will then set up a meeting at the school to discuss possible modifications and/or accommodations, which could keep the child in school (at least part of the day).
    5. The facilitator will then send a copy of the forms completed at this meeting and the medical form to the Facilitator of Nurses at the COC.

    If there are no modifications and/or accommodations that can be made to allow the student to remain in school, the Facilitator of Nurses in charge of Hospital/Homebound will review the summary of the SBLC meeting and medical form to determine if the child is eligible for homebound services.

    Once the student has been approved for Hospital Homebound Instruction, the parent/guardian should realize the following:

    1. Homebound instructors are assigned according to certification and the instructional needs of the child in question and are therefore expected to be accepted by the family. Acceptance or rejection of this person dictates the extent to which services will be available. Should the family be unwilling to accept the assigned homebound instructor, the St. Mary Parish School Board shall not be held responsible for providing this service. Questions arising over teacher assignment should be brought to the attention of the Office of Special Education.
    2. A responsible adult family member shall be on the premises and available during the entire teaching time.
    3. All parties in the home should be appropriately dressed throughout the homebound session.
    4. Regular study periods should be established for the student as suggested by the teacher.
    5. The learning space provided shall be adequate to accommodate the pupil and teacher in accordance with the pupil's physical and mental involvement.
    6. The student and teacher shall be afforded an environment conducive to instruction and as free from distractions as possible.
    7. A parent, guardian, or adult family member in attendance is responsible for initialing the monthly time sheet for homebound instructors unless the student is of legal age.
    8. The student should receive any necessary nursing care before the teacher’s arrival. The student’s doctor’s appointments should be scheduled at times other than those set aside for instruction if at all possible.
    9. Homebound students are considered present for school. In the event a student is not home to receive instruction at the designated time, the absence will be reported to the primary school.  Any cancellation of the teaching sessions must be reported by the Homebound Teacher.  Recurring absences will be dealt with on an individual basis.  These absences will be reported to the Supervisor of Special Education or Designee.  If necessary, the student may be dropped from the homebound program.
    10. If the period of confinement requires an extension of services a “Notice of Hospital Homebound Extended Eligibility” form must be resubmitted to the SBLC Committee.
    11. Since the student is placed on homebound because of a physical or psychological inability to attend school, it is understood that the student should not be away from the home environment unless it is for medical attention. Homebound students may not participate in or in attend school sponsored events without a full medical release from their primary care giver.  All homebound students seen at school sponsored/public events for reasons other than their medical issues will receive a review of their case with termination of services as a possibility.
    12. Hospital Homebound teachers do not administer midterm and final exams. All midterm and final exams are to be taken at the student's school. Arrangements must be made between the family and the school.
    13. Hospital Homebound Services for pregnant students begin on the actual delivery date or upon medical documentation of complications. The inability to secure babysitting services is not an acceptable reason to file for an extension of Hospital Homebound Services.

    The best place for a child to receive an education is at school.  Therefore, every effort is made to return the child to school as soon as possible.

    Hospital/Homebound services are not intended for long-term service.

    For further information concerning this service, contact the Central Office Facilitator of Nurses Lydia Duval at (337) 836-9661.

    For further information concerning homebound teachers, contact Barbara Lancelin (blancelin@stmaryk12.net) at the Office of Special Education at (337) 828-1767.


    The Special Olympics program in St. Mary Parish originated in 1974 with 18 students.  Today it provides services for the low incidence population that are mentally disabled.  The basic objectives of this program are: 

    • To provide one with successful experiences in sports.
    • To gain confidence and self-mastery which will enable students to build a positive self-image.
    • To provide opportunities for socialization.
    • To assist in the transfer of skills learned in the classrooms (self-help, academics, and communication) to a more natural environment.

    Over the years this program has shown its value and worth and is now an integral part of the curriculum for the mentally disabled.

    This program is a year-round program.  The school system participates in the following official Special Olympics sports: bowling, basketball, and track, and field.  There are levels of competition: local, area, district, state, and every four years, international.

    Special Education teachers and volunteers who are involved in this program attend training schools throughout the year to become certified as Special Olympic coaches.

    Special Olympics is sponsored by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, Louisiana Special Olympic Inc., St. Mary Parish School Board (Special Education Department), and the communities throughout this parish.

    If further information is needed, please call (337) 828-1767 and ask for Steve Harris (sharris@stmaryk12.net). 


    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.


    Transition planning is designed to help students with disabilities and their families plan for life after high school and identify long-range goals. Transition planning describes the anticipated support needs of 16-21 year old at-risk students with specific disabilities. Post-school activities can include college, vocational training, employment, continuing, and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation. The transition plan and process provides the foundation for coordinated efforts between the student, parents/guardian, school and adult service providers.

    For further information, contact Dr. Katherine Drexler at (337) 828-1767 or e-mail kdrexler@stmaryk12.net.


    The St. Mary Parish School Board Department of Special Educational Services believes that every person has the ability to obtain a certain degree of functional independence across integrated environments. Toward this end of maximum self-actualization, community-based instruction is provided with the belief that every student, regardless of the severity of his or her disabilities, is capable of living and working in the community.

    Community-based instruction is provided as a component of the Special Education Program for secondary special education students. Developmentally age respectful vocational classroom activities are designed to teach students to become proficient in accordance with IEP goals and objectives applied in the community. Community-based participation provides hands-on vocational and functional experiences normally performed by their “non-disabled” peers to facilitate successful post school outcomes. 

    The ultimate goal of the St. Mary Parish School Board is to provide a model of community-based training that provides work-based learning opportunities for students with disabilities across environments.

    For further information contact Dr. Katherine Drexler at (337) 828-1767.


    St. Mary Parish has instituted assistive technology services, which provide resources for students with special communication and daily living needs.  Through this resource, students found to be in need are provided with new and innovative technological aids that will assist them in developing functional and independent communication and daily living skills.  These services assist teachers and families to maximize the potential of their students and children that are in need of unique training and technological aids.  Assistive technology is provided in a team approach.  The team may include regular and special education teachers, nurses, educational diagnosticians, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.


    Extended School Year Services (ESYS) are provided for eligible students with disabilities who require special education instruction and related services in excess of 180 days.  The legal basis for extending the school year for certain students with disabilities is stated in Section 450 of Bulletin 1706:  Regulations for Implementation of the Exceptional Children's Act (R.S. 17:1941 et. seq.) and in court decisions handed down relative to the 180-day rule. These decisions have reaffirmed the Federal Legislative intent to ensure a free and appropriate education based on educational programming designed to meet those needs.

    All students in Special Education, excluding the academically gifted, must be screened annually to determine eligibility regardless of previous participation or nonparticipation in the Extended School Year program.

    For further information contact Dr. Katherine C. Drexler at (337-828-1767)


    The program of education for the gifted/talented in St. Mary Parish is based on the philosophy of individual worth and the individualization of instruction.  Individualization of instruction involves a differentiation of curriculum.  The educational experiences to which the gifted/talented student is exposed must be appropriate for his/her characteristics.

    The St. Mary Parish School Board’s gifted/talented system has a resource model parish wide to service students in grades K-12. The program is based on a curriculum that provides enrichment, which goes beyond normal classroom activity by offering students greater latitude of inquiry.

    The St. Mary Parish School Board’s program for the gifted/talented is devoted to the pursuance of academic attainment and increasingly sophisticated levels of conceptualization.  Since the participating students do exhibit distinctively high achievement levels, the curriculum must transcend the learning activities of the regular program.  Our gifted/talented programs are designed to provide challenging learning opportunities and reward students with learning experiences.

    For further information on gifted/talented programming, call Bridget Guillot or Debra McClarity (337) 828-1767.  Questions regarding identification of gifted/talented students should be addressed to Anna Bonin, Coordinator of Pupil Appraisal.


    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 Debra McClarity, Supervisor of Special Education, at the Office of Special Education at (337) 828-1767


    St. Mary Parish School Board is in compliance with implementation of 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (39 U.S.C. 794).  Section 504 states, in part, that "no otherwise qualified disabled individual...shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance...."

    Parents with concerns about children who are suspected of having a disability, which interferes with a major life activity, should contact the child's teacher or the SBLC facilitator in the child's school.  For further information on Section 504, contact Anna Bonin, Coordinator of Pupil Appraisal Services at (337) 828-1767.  504 disabilities may include, but are not limited to characteristics of dyslexia, ADHD, or health problems.

    St. Mary Parish follows Bulletin 1903 for dyslexia procedures.


    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, Supervisor of Special Education, at 337-828-1767.


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