Overview

The Department of Exceptional Education meets the individual needs of students ages three through twenty-one who are eligible for special education and related services according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The department assists in the assessment process for determining special education eligibility.

A full continuum of services is available, ranging from the least restrictive to more restrictive environments, depending on the specific needs of the student. The department also supports schools in ensuring students with disabilities appropriately access the Georgia Performance Standards and provides specialized instruction as determined necessary by the individualized education plan (IEP).

In collaboration with students, schools, families, and the community, the Department of Exceptional Education assists students with disabilities in increasing academic performance and enhancing post-secondary options.

Child Find Requirements

Do you know a child who may have a disability? Can The Child Find help?

Have you heard of the Child Find mandate? It’s a legal requirement for our District to find children who have disabilities, or who may be suspected of having disabilities, and are in need of special education services.

Child Find is a federally established, comprehensive system designed to ensure that all children with a disability receive a free appropriate public education.
The DeKalb County School District maintains an active and continuing Child Find program designed to identify, locate and evaluate those children residing within the District’s boundaries who may be in need of special education and related services.

Children with disabilities from birth through age 21 are covered by Child Find. These children may be enrolled in a DeKalb County school, attend a preschool, Head Start or day care center, or attend a private or parochial school located within the District’s boundaries. Children who are home schooled, highly mobile, migrant, or homeless are also covered by Child Find.
The DeKalb County School District offers comprehensive special education services to eligible students ages three through 21 years. Children from birth to age three with developmental delays or disabilities will be referred to Babies Can’t Wait, Georgia’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers.
A referral can be made by anyone who has a concern about a child’s development. All referrals are considered confidential and the parent retains the right to refuse to provide consent for an evaluation.

Public school services include screening in the area of suspected disabilities, such as hearing, motor skills, communication, and general development. Evaluations target the “whole child,” including learning disabilities, speech and language development, physical impairments, vision or hearing problems, mental retardation, emotional disturbances, autism/pervasive developmental disorders, traumatic brain injuries or other health problems.

We offer a full continuum of services for all eligible students enrolled in the DeKalb County School District and for those students who are home schooled or enrolled in a private or parochial school located within the District’s boundaries. Services are provided at no cost to the family.

If you know of a child you suspect may have a disability, please urge his or her parents to contact:
The local school for school-aged children,
The Preschool Diagnostics Team at 678-874-6026 for three- and four-year-old children, or
The Special Education Department at 678-676-1809.

Students Receiving Special Education Services in the DeKalb County Jail

  • The number of youth age 21 and under at the Jail previously identified as IDEA eligible: 14
  • The number of youth age 21 or under at the Jail suspected of having a qualifying disability under the IDEA and referred for an initial evaluation: 0
  • The number of youth age 21 or under evaluated or re-evaluated for special education services: 1
  • The number of youth age 21 and under at the Jail who were provided an IEP meeting and had an IEP developed: 14
  • The number of youth provided with FAPE: 14
  • The number of due process complaints, mediation requests, state complaints, and OCR complaints filed by youth at the Jail: 0
  • The number of impartial due process hearings involving youth age 21 and under at the Jail: 0
*Updated 5/24/2022
*Data is subject to change daily

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

Senate Bill 10, as signed into law on May 18, 2007, created the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) Program. It allows parents of students who receive special education services to choose to transfer their child to another school, public school system, state school, or authorized participating private school. As long as it is authorized in State law and funded by the Georgia General Assembly, the GSNS Program will be available.

Parents/guardians can find out more about the program by visiting the GSNS webpage at http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Policy/Pages/Special-Needs-Scholarship-Program.aspx. Scholarship amounts for the 2018-2019 school year will be available on the Georgia Department of Education web page by mid-July 2018.

A student must meet the following eligibility requirements to participate in the GSNS Program during the school year:

  • Student Eligibility Criteria 1: A student must have a parent/guardian who currently lives in Georgia and has been a resident for at least one calendar year.
  • Student Eligibility Criteria 2: A student was enrolled and completed the prior school year in a Georgia public school in grades kindergarten through twelfth.
  • Student Eligibility Criteria 3: A student was reported attending a Georgia public school by a school district(s) during mandatory student counts conducted in October and March.
  • Student Eligibility Criteria 4: A student does not need to have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the entire school year to qualify for the GSNS Program. A student must have received special education services at some point during the prior school year through an IEP. A student must be reported by a school district(s) in either the October OR March student counts of that year OR in final student record as a student receiving special education services by the end of that school year.
If a student meets the eligibility criteria for the GSNS Program, the parent(s)/guardian(s) has the right to request a transfer from a student’s current public school to:

  • Another public school within their school system; or
  • Another public school outside their school system; or
  • One of the three State schools for the blind or deaf; or
  • A private school authorized to participate in the GSNS Program.
Yes, students who meet the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship eligibility criteria in law, now have greater public choice options available to them. Parent(s)/guardian(s) may request a public school within or outside their local school system.

The authority to allow or deny transfer requests belongs to a school system. School systems can create their own forms and set deadlines for transfer requests. Parents/guardians must contact a school system directly regarding the process the school system uses for public school transfer requests available through the GSNS Program. Many school systems have policies in place not to accept students from outside its system which is allowable through state law.

IDEA is a federal law that requires public schools to provide all children with disabilities a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). If you choose to remove your child from the public school—even if the state is providing some funds for the private school— then you are refusing parental consent to services under IDEA. Therefore, a private school is not required to provide the same services required of public schools. If you decide to return your child to a public school, your child would again be entitled to all rights and services pursuant to IDEA as long as the child remains eligible to receive services through an IEP.
November 2021

As a parent of a student who receives special education in the DeKalb County School District (DCSD), this letter serves to inform you about your options to exercise public and private school choice. Under a state law passed by the Georgia State Legislature in 2007 (SB10) and a revision passed in 2021 (SB47), parents of students who receive special education and students who receive services under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation of Act of 1973 may choose, if eligibility criteria are met, to transfer their child to another public school within their district of residence, another public school outside their district of residence, one of the state schools for deaf or blind operated by the state board of education, or a private school authorized to participate in the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS).

The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) Program (also known as Senate Bill 10 on the District’s School Choice website) is a school choice program available for special needs students attending Georgia public schools who are served under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. It is important to note that the application process is online, and selection is via lottery and based upon seat availability only.

Parents are encouraged to review the many documents available on the Georgia Department of Education website for more information about GSNS. Scholarship amounts for the 2022-2023 school year will be available on the Georgia Department of Education web page by mid-July 2022.

In order to qualify for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program, a student must meet the following requirements:

Student Eligibility Criteria 1– A student must have a parent/guardian who currently lives in Georgia and has been a resident for at least one calendar year, however, the one-year requirement shall not apply if the student’s parent is an active duty military service member stationed in Georgia within the previous year; AND

Student Eligibility Criteria 2– The student had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in effect during the previous school year; AND

  • This criterion includes students who received preschool special education services during the previous school year, who will be five years old by September 1st and entering kindergarten.
  • A student does not need to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the entire school year to qualify for the GSNS Program. A student must have received special education services at some point during the school year through an IEP. A student must be reported by a school district(s) in either the October OR March student counts OR in final student record as a student receiving special education services by the end of the school year.

Student Eligibility Criteria 3– The student spent the prior school year in attendance at a Georgia public school. Prior school year in attendance means that the student was enrolled and reported by a public school system or systems for funding purposes at the time of at least one FTE program count, conducted each school year in October and March. Prior school year in attendance shall not apply if:

  • The student’s parent is an active duty military service member stationed in Georgia within the previous year; OR
  • The student has been adopted or placed in a permanent guardianship from foster care pursuant to an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction within the previous year; OR
  • The student previously qualified for a scholarship as provided in state law.

If a student meets the eligibility criteria for the GSNS Program, a parent has the right to request a transfer from a student’s current public school to:

  • Another public school within their district of residence. In the DCSD, this type of transfer request is addressed during the School Choice Open Enrollment period (DCSD Application Window is January 7, 2022 – February 4, 2022); or
  • Another public school district outside their district of residence; (see website above for more information) or
  • One of the state schools for the blind or deaf operated by the state board of education; or
  • A private school authorized to participate in the GSNS Program (see website above for more information).

Parents may make requests for schools both in the district of residence and outside of the district of residence at the same time. Funds received through the GSNS Program can only be used to offset tuition and fees at a private school authorized by the State Board of Education to participate in the program. Funds cannot be used to offset the costs of out of district tuition, charter schools, or other options available under public school choice.

The GSNS application can also be accessed through the DeKalb County School District website at www.dekalbschoolsga.org/school-choice/.

A parent/guardian of a student eligible for the GSNS Program has three opportunities during a school year to transfer an eligible student from a public school to an authorized private school by the following dates for the qualifying school year:

  1. September 15th of each year- NO FILING OF INTENT FORM REQUIRED.
  2. December 15th of each year – Filing of intent form required (see the GaDOE website for the form).
  3. March 4th of each year- Filing of intent form required. A parent/guardian of a student eligible for the GSNS Program must file the Intent to File for Scholarship application and other required documents with the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) by 12 noon on December 15th of each year or March 4th of each year, if a parent/guardian intends to have a student participate in the private school choice option. Forms will not be accepted after these dates.

Parents are encouraged to contact the Department of Exceptional Education at 678-676-1809 to determine if the appropriate program is available at the schools being considered for a transfer within the District.

Lead Teacher Special Education Directory

wdt_ID LVL Title I School Name School Ph LTSE LTSE Office Phone # Coordinator Coordinator Phone # Asst Principal for Special Ed
1 ES x Allgood ES 6-676-5102 Allen, Karen 678-676-2073 Crystal Roberts 678-676-1898 Gwendolyn Kinsey
2 HS x Arabia Mtn HS 6-875-3602 Walker, Starlin 678-875-3647 Donielle Howard-Thomas 678-676-1920 Rheanolia Wynn
3 ES Ashford Park ES 6-676-6702 Wright, Jessica 678-676-2036 Crystal Roberts 678-676-1898 Tonya Edwards
4 ES x Austin ES 6-874-8102 Meade, Sarah 678-676-2087 Diane Williams-Shirley 678-676-1898 Angie Smith
5 ES x Avondale ES 6-676-5202 Dixon, Denise 678-676-2074 Diane Williams-Shirley 678-676-1898 Candace Sagers
6 ES x Barack Obama ES 6-874-4402 Robbins, Sabrina 678-676-2050 Jizel Alexis 678-676-1898 Pamela Wooley
7 MS x Bethune MS 6-875-0302 Atkins, Meshalette 678-875-0355 Deborah Mitchell 678-676-1894 Monica Black
8 ES x Bob Mathis ES 6-874-5802 Easley, Yolanda 678-676-1872 Diane Williams-Shirley 678-676-1898 Kesha Hill
9 ES x Bouie ES Theme 6-676-8202 Easley, Yolanda 678-676-1872 Diane Williams-Shirley 678-676-1898 Michele Alford
10 ES x Briar Vista ES 6-874-5902 Ennis, Jasmine 678-676-2059 Jizel Alexis 678-676-2069 April McCarthy
LVL Title I School Name School Ph LTSE LTSE Office Phone # Coordinator Coordinator Phone # Asst Principal for Special Ed

Parent Resources

Parent Mentors

Alexandra Wright, Parent Mentor
(678) 676-2105


Demetra Williams, Parent Mentor
(678) 676-2106

Free Resources for Monitoring the Development of Children

Dear DeKalb County Families:

As the Executive Director of Exceptional Education, I want to welcome you to the DeKalb County School District. Please know that the Exceptional Education Department is committed to providing the most appropriate educational programs for your child.

We have a dedicated team of professionals to assist you. As part of this dedicated team, I am pleased to introduce you to our Parent Mentors: Alexandra Wright and Demetra Williams. Their contact information is found on the website and on the Parent Mentor website. Select Our Mentors, Find a Mentor and choose DeKalb County.

Parent mentors work to build effective family, school, and community partnerships that lead to greater achievement for students, especially those with disabilities. At the school, district and state levels, these partnerships are essential to the success of parent mentors and ultimately to the enhanced outcomes for students and their families.

Parent mentors partner with parents to support them in becoming more engaged in their children’s educational programs. They share information, encourage participation in IEP meetings, and help identify needed resources and services. In schools, parent mentors partner with teachers, administrators, and other school staff to integrate family engagement into school and district. They are here to help and encourage you to reach out.

Thank you in advance for your continued support and interest.

Regards,

Mrs. Michele Summerlin
Executive Director

The mission of parent mentors is to provide information, support, and encouragement to the families of children who receive special education services and to the professionals who serve them.

Who are Parents Mentors?

Parents of children with disabilities, who are employed on a part-time basis by the school system.

What do Parent Mentors do?

  • assist families and educators in locating information and resources
  • provide workshops for parents and educators
  • provide confidential support for parental concerns and questions
  • provide a parent’s perspective to educators
Parent Mentor Brochure

Parents Rights

Summer Learning Resources Guide: English Language Arts

Free Resources for Monitoring the Development of Children

State-Defined Alternate Diploma FAQ for Families

State-Defined Alternate Diploma FAQ for Families – Spanish

Special Education Services and Supports: The GaDOE Division for Special Education Services and Supports includes programs and services that support local school districts in their efforts to provide special education and related services to students with disabilities.

Parents’ Rights: GaDOE webpage containing Parents’ Rights, Parents’ Rights videos (in English and Spanish), and Parent Information Fact Sheets.

Parent Information Fact Sheets: GaDOE webpage containing fact sheets on a variety of topics, from assistive technology and discipline to making sure your preschooler starts on a path towards high school graduation. These fact sheets are also available in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish Vietnamese.

Parent to Parent of Georgia: Parent to Parent of Georgia offers a variety of services to Georgia families impacted by disabilities or special healthcare needs.

Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership: The Parent Mentor Partnership was founded in 2002 when six school districts partnered with the Georgia Department of Education Division for Special Education Services and Supports to hire parent mentors to infuse family engagement into school and district activities. Mentors provide information to parents of students with disabilities to assist them in navigating the special education system and in identifying activities that could help improve outcomes for their children.

Student Success: Imagine the Possibilities: The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has required that each State Educational Agency (SEA) develop a State Systemic Improvement Plan that includes a comprehensive, multi-year focus on improving results for Students with Disabilities! Each state must develop a plan that will outline the development of strategies to increase state capacity to structure and lead meaningful change in Local Educational Agencies (LEAs). While the primary focus of the plan is on improvement for Students with Disabilities, the State must also address in its SSIP how the State will use its general supervision systems to improve implementation of the requirements of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Georgia will implement a systemic plan, “Student Success,” in FY16 to improve graduation outcomes for Students with Disabilities.

Dispute Resolution: There are several ways to come to a resolution in a dispute with the district over the rights and services afforded to students with disabilities and their families. The quickest and most efficient method is to contact the Executive Director for Special Education. The Executive Director can often assist a family to work out the differences with minimal time and conflict. When a resolution cannot be worked out locally, there are processes guaranteed to families of students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These include (1) formal complaints, (2) mediation and/or (3) a due process hearing.

Metro East GLRS » Resources for Learning at Home: The Georgia Learning Resources System (GLRS) is a network of 17 regional programs that provide training and resources to school system personnel, parents of students with disabilities, and other interested individuals to support the achievement, graduation rate, and post-secondary success of students with disabilities.

IEP Team Meeting Facilitation is an optional process, not required by the IDEA that state educational agencies (SEA) or school districts may provide to parents and schools. A facilitated IEP Team meeting is the same as any other IEP Team meeting, except that a facilitator joins the meeting.

What is IEP Team Meeting Facilitation?
IEP Team Meeting Facilitation is a collaborative dispute prevention and resolution process used when members of an IEP Team agree that the presence of a third party would help facilitate communication and problem solving. IEP Team Meeting Facilitation can be especially useful when there is a history of communication challenges or a meeting is expected to be particularly complex or controversial.

In a facilitated IEP Team meeting, an impartial facilitator helps to keep members of the IEP Team focused on the development of the IEP while addressing conflicts and disagreements that may arise during the meeting. At the meeting, the facilitator will use communication skills that create an environment in which the IEP Team members can listen to each member’s point of view and work together to complete the development of a high quality IEP.

2022 Parent Satisfaction Survey

Parent Letter

Dear Parent and/or Guardian,

In collaboration with the Georgia State Department of Education, the DeKalb County School District’s Department of Exceptional Education will conduct a 2021-2022 parent satisfaction survey for parents and guardians of students with disabilities. As always, our goal is to partner with families to raise the achievement and graduation rates for students with disabilities.

The Parent Satisfaction Survey helps the District and the State to measure and determine parent/family needs and perceptions of the success of parent engagement with the local schools. The survey is 10 questions and will be open to all families of students with disabilities.

The 2022 Parent Satisfaction Survey will be available until May 31, 2022. The link to the survey is included below and is also available on the Parent-to-Parent of Georgia website.

If a survey is needed in a language other than English, please reach out to your school’s Lead Teacher for Special Education.

We appreciate your assistance by completing this survey to help us achieve our goal of 100% participation.

Reimbursement for Special Education Services to Students in Private School or Homeschool

Governor Brian P. Kemp has issued a press release regarding Applications for Families of Children with Special Needs Reimbursement. You may access the press release below.

Please click on the link below to access the application. Applications for the Families of Children with Special Needs Reimbursement are open through May 14.

Student Records

To receive a copy of the student’s record, a written request with the signature of the parent(s), legal guardian(s), or student (if eighteen years or older) is needed to release records. A trained surrogate parent assigned by the special education department may also sign the request. The request should include the address and phone number of the person requesting the record. The request should be forwarded to the special education records office by mail or fax.

Special Education Records Office
East DeKalb Campus
5839 Memorial Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
SpEdRecords@dekalbschoolsga.org
678.676.1802
678.676.2027 (fax)

Request for Special Education Records Scheduled for Destruction
Destruction of Special Education Records

Parent/guardian consent is not required prior to disclosing student records/information to the following:

  • parent(s)/guardian(s), or eligible students
  • other school officials, including teachers within the Local School System (LSS) or legally constituted cooperating agencies (e.g., psycho educational programs, regional education service agencies (RESAs), or shared services) when access has legitimate educational purposes
  • in connection with a student’s application for or receipt of financial aid
  • to organizations, with the written approval of the Superintendent, conducting a study on behalf of an education agency to develop, validate, or administer predictive tests, to administer student aid, or to improve instruction (information will only be available to those conducting the study with all personally-identifiable data destroyed when they are no longer needed for the purpose of the study)
  • to accreditation agencies
  • in compliance with a judicial order
  • to authorized state or federal representatives evaluating or auditing federally supported educational programs
  • to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights
  • to officials of other schools or school systems in which the student seeks or is eligible to enroll, upon condition that the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) (1) be notified of the transfer, (2) receive a copy of the record if desired, and (3) have an opportunity for a hearing to challenge the content of the record
  • to a department of human resources (DHR), department of corrections (DOC), department of juvenile justice (DJJ), or department of labor (DOL) for the purpose of making appropriate education decisions
  • for any use or purpose other than meeting a requirement under this part

Questions and Answers

Parent(s), legal guardian(s), the student (if eighteen years or older), or a trained surrogate parent assigned by the special education department may obtain a copy of the student’s record at no cost.
Parent(s), legal guardian(s), the student (if eighteen years or older), or a trained surrogate parent assigned by the special education department may sign the “Authorization to Release” form.
Any and all records collected, maintained, and/or used in providing a free appropriate public education. This typically includes the individualized education plan (IEP), eligibility report(s), and assessment information if applicable.
Special education records are maintained until the records are no longer needed for educational planning purposes (i.e., student graduates with a high school diploma, reaches maximum age, etc.) and are destroyed in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) procedures.
Requests for records are usually processed within a week.

Transition

Contact

The Department of Exceptional Education Directory

Office/Programs Phone Number
Mrs. Michele Summerlin
Executive Director
Exceptional Education Department
678.676.1892
Mrs. Kiana King
Director
Exceptional Education
678.676.2378
Dr. Prudencia Jacobs
Coordinator III,
Budget & Human Capital Management
678.676.1899
Mrs. Watina April
Coordinator III, Section 504/Hospital Homebound (HHB)
678.676.1817
Dr. Darnell Logan
Coordinator III, Behavior Support
678.676.2378
Ms. Jizel Alexis
Coordinator II, Elementary School
678.676.2069
Dr. Allison Marks
Coordinator II, Section 504/Hospital Homebound (HHB)
678.676.1817
Dr. Erin Broyard-Baptiste
Coordinator III
678.676.1896
Dr. Linda Buck
Coordinator II, High School & Special Programs
678.676.1920
Dr. Sharenia Hunter
Coordinator II, Low Incidence Programs & Intellectual Disabilities
678.676.1896
Dr. Donnielle Howard-Thomas
Coordinator II, High School
678.676.1887
Ms. Rolanda Johnson
Coordinator II, Preschool Programs
678.676.1896
Ms. Kimberly Jones
Coordinator II, Student Records
678.676.1802
Dr. Deborah Mitchell
Coordinator II, Middle School
678.676.1887
Dr. Tamara Carter
Coordinator II, Speech-Language & Related Services
678.676.2030
Ms. Diane Williams-Shirley
Coordinator II, Elementary School
678.676.1898
Dr. Crystal Roberts
Coordinator II, Elementary School
678.676.1898

Address

DeKalb County School District
East DeKalb Campus
5839 Memorial Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083


Main Line:
678-676-1809


FAX:
678-676-1888
678-676-2027