Department of Special Needs
Director of Special Needs & Riverside Early Learning Center Principal
Fort Dodge Community School District is committed to help each child achieve his/her level of educational excellence. As a District, we understand that not all children develop educationally at the same rate, but our team is committed to ensuring that every child leaves school every day feeling successful. The Special Needs Department does this by providing specialized instruction and a variety of educational programs for students who cannot sufficiently benefit from only general education.
Our goal is to ensure that all students ages 3-21 with disabilities receive a free, excellent education that meets the student’s needs in the least restrictive environment. This means that special education services are provided in the general education classroom to the maximum extent. A collaborative effort is required between parents, support staff, and regular educators in order to enhance the independence and success of each student.
Fort Dodge Community School District’s Special Education Department offers a continuum of educational resources for students with disabilities. Programs such as Head Start, preschool, and Transitional Kindergarten are offered to children from 3-5 years old. Housed at Riverside Early Learning Center, these programs allow children to learn and develop in a cohesive environment specifically focused on the needs of young children.
Programs at the K-12 level focus on everything from academic and behavioral needs, to significant cognitive delays and mental health issues. The Senior High also provides five programs in which the curriculum focuses on work experience.
The Fort Dodge Community School District is in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requirements outlined by the Iowa Department of Education. According to state targets, our District excels in areas of transition, demonstrating our strength to prepare students with special needs for a postsecondary setting or the world or work. Last year, 100 percent of our special education students age 16 and above received measureable, annual Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals and transition services.
Determining the Need for Special Education Services
Determining the need for special education services is done by utilizing a collaborative approach. A problem solving team of parents/guardians, school instructors and staff, and a representative from the area education agency (AEA) will work together to review interventions and identify areas of concern.
If a student is found to be eligible for special education services, then an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed which sets goals/objectives for educational needs as well as necessary accommodations, such as, transition services for students with disabilities who are 14 years old or more. The IEP is created by a team of individuals who understand the student’s needs best. The plan honors individual learning styles and meets the student at their current level.
Steps in the Special Education Process
· Child Find (Disability Suspected)
· Determination of Eligibility/Disability
· Development and Approval of the IEP
· Ongoing Monitoring