Special Education

Our special education program provides services for qualifying children and students from birth to age 21. 

RPS is committed to providing a free appropriate education designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. We will provide the support and related services necessary to implement the special educational program and assure that students' and parents' rights are followed in this process.

How do I make a referral?

If there is a concern about your child, you, your child’s teacher, or an outside provider can refer your child to the building Child Study Team (CST). In the majority of cases the building will implement systematic interventions in an attempt to improve your child’s functioning in the area(s) of concern. Some buildings have a separate Intervention Team for this purpose. If after two interventions your child continues to be significantly behind his/her peers in the area(s) of concern, the CST at the building may decide to pursue an evaluation to consider Special Education or Section 504. 

Referrals to the CST can take place at any time. If referrals are received with less than 30 school days remaining in the school year the evaluation may carry over to the following school year. For students who have immigrated to the United States and whose primary language is not English, there is no minimum time requirement the student needs to attend school before they can be referred to CST.  However, the CST will often need to determine if the main reason for the lack of progress is due to English proficiency. There are times that a parent has a medical report or a report from another outside provider that may include a diagnosis. While this  information is valuable and will be considered, the school will still need to complete their own evaluation for determining Special Education or Section 504 eligibility.

If you have questions please contact your building administrator or Student Services at (507) 328-4310.

More Information:

Early Intervention Services - Birth Up to Age 3

Early Intervention are services provided to a child and their family when the child has been found eligible based on a medical condition or delay in development, according to state criteria. These services occur within the child's natural setting and are often family-centered. Services may be provided by an early childhood special education teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and/or other providers based on eligibility and need.

If you have concerns about your child's development you can call (507) 328-4523 or make a referral online at MN Help Me Grow. Screening, evaluation and services are free to students who meet eligibility criteria.

What to expect after a referral:
  • RPS staff will follow up with parents within two weeks of receiving the referral.
  • Once an evaluation plan has been developed and signed, it will be completed within 45 calendar days, year-round.
  • Once a child qualifies, the team will develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP).
  • Services can begin once the parent has signed consent for the plan. Services are provided year-round.
  • Services are provided primarily in the home or daycare.

Early Childhood Special Education - Age 3 to K

Special education services are provided to eligible children age 3 up to Kindergarten entrance for those who meet special education state criteria. These services are often delivered in a center-based setting based on the unique needs of each child. Services may be provided by an early childhood special education teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and/or other providers based on eligibility and need.

If you have concerns about your child's development you can call (507) 328-4523 or make a referral online at MN Help Me Grow. Screening, evaluation and services are free to students who meet eligibility criteria.

What to expect after a referral:
  • RPS staff will follow up with parents within two weeks of receiving the referral.
  • Once an evaluation plan has been developed and signed, it will be completed within 30 school days.
  • Evaluations and services are provided during the school year, following the RPS calendar.
  • Once a child qualifies, the team will develop an Individual Education Program (IEP).
  • Services can begin once the parent has signed consent for the IEP. Services are provided during the school year.
  • Services are generally provided at Rochester Public Schools buildings, primarily at Mighty Oaks and Hoover Early Learning Schools.

K-12 Special Education

The focus of K-12 special education is to ensure a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for eligible students identified to have a disability and who are in need of individualized and specially designed instruction.

This instruction must provide progress towards goals and objectives through collaboration between parents or guardians, students, and professional staff who:

  • assist in identifying students with disabilities using the multidisciplinary team process
  • implement due process standards in collaboration with the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Team
  • provide the appropriate specialized instruction to students through their IEP, base on the child's disability-related need
  • monitor the student's progress based on the goals and objectives written in the IEP
  • actively participate in professional development to remain current with special education statutes, rules, regulations and best practices in specialized instruction
What to expect after a parent referral:
  • RPS staff will follow up with parents within two weeks of receiving the referral.
What to expect after a teacher referral:
  • Teacher or staff member observes concerns with an individual student and talks to the parent about interventions and strategies that are unique to the student. Sometimes interventions are first discussed with the building intervention team. If there is progress, the teacher or staff member will continue with the intervention. If there is not progress, the teacher or staff member will try a second intervention. If that is successful, the teacher or staff member will continue with it. If there is not progress, the teacher will contact the parent again and submit a referral to the building Child Study Team (CST). The team will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the student and determine if an evaluation is necessary. The parent will be contacted about developing an evaluation plan.
  • Once the evaluation plan has been developed and signed by the parent, the team has 30 school days to complete the evaluation and give parents a written report. The team will also schedule a meeting with the parent to discuss the results. 
  • If the student qualifies for special education services by meeting entrance criteria for any one of the 13 areas, the team will develop an Individual Education Program (IEP). The school is not able to begin providing services until the IEP has been signed.
  • IEPs are developed annually, and the comprehensive evaluation is completed every three years.

Categorial Disability Criteria and Related Services

  • Criteria Includes:
    • Impairment in social interaction
    • Impairment in communication
    • Restricted repetitive or stereotyped pattern of behavior
  • Criteria Includes:
    • Visual acuity of 20/60 or less in better eye with correction
    • Limited ability to access educational media without modification
  • Criteria Includes:
    • Visual acuity of 20/60 or less in better eye with correction
    • Limited ability to access educational media without modification
 
  • Criteria Includes:
    • Meets criteria for a Visual Impairment
    • Meets criteria for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Criteria Includes:
    • Cognitive ability 70 or below
    • Adaptive skills below the 15th percentile
  • Criteria Includes:
    • Cognitive ability 55 or below
    • Adaptive skills below the 15th percentile
  • Criteria Includes:
    • A diagnosed physical or mental condition or disorder
    • A delay of 1 .5 standard deviations in two or more developmental areas
    • Cognitive, physical, communication, social/emotional, adaptive
  • Criteria Includes:
    • Significantly different behaviors or disordered thought process or aggressive behaviors
    • Adverse effects on educational performance
    • Behavior severely interferes with the student or other students' educational performance

 

  • Criteria Includes:
    • Medical documentation of a health condition
    • Adverse effects on educational tasks
    • Unsatisfactory educational progress
  • Criteria includes:
    • Medically diagnosed physical impairment
    • Functional, motor or educational performance is impacted by the impairment
  • Criteria includes:
    • Qualifying under at least two of the following disabilities; DHH, Pl, DCD, BVI, EBO, ASD
  • Criteria includes:
    • Severe underachievement in the classroom
    • Severe discrepancy between cognitive and achievement skills as noted by 1.75 standard deviation.
  • Criteria for the following disorders must be documented by two measures:
    • Fluency disorder
    • Voice disorder
    • Articulation disorder
    • Language disorder
  • Criteria includes:
    • Medical documentation
    • Functional impairment
Related Services:
  • Physical Therapy (PT)
  • Occupational Therapy ( OT)
  • Speech and Language Services (S/L)
  • Audiology Services with Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH)
  • Vision Services
  • School Social Work Services (SW)
  • School Psychology Services
  • Assistive Technology (AT)
  • Developmental and Adaptive Physical Education (DAPE)
  • Behavior Support Services
  • Work Experience

Helpful Resources

Special education services can be helpful to children with disabilities. When misunderstandings or problems arise about how to make the special education services work for you and your child, the parental rights notice is one place to start.

The parental rights notice (also called procedural safeguards) provides an overview of your parental special education rights. These rights are the same rights that belong to adult students between the ages of 18 and 21. The notice addresses key rights such as providing informed consent and procedures for disagreeing with the district. 

Students and others with disabilities have the same rights and responsibilities as other people. They control their own lives, make their own choices and contribute to their community. Person-centered practices focus on interests, needs, strengths and dreams. Using the best information, person-centered practices empower individuals to make informed choices about where they will learn, work, live and play.