• Special Education

    District Special Education Services

    Minnesota Public Schools are required by law to provide a free, appropriate education to all children with handicaps birth through 22 years of age. As part of our districts commitment to this law, we encourage parents who have questions regarding the special needs of their children to contact the Director of Special Education, Heather Harms, at 507-835-5046.

    "Special education" is instruction, specific to the child, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. It is important to note: Students with disabilities are general education students first. They receive special education support services in conjunction with the general education curriculum. Special education is an instructional service, not a place. Special education services must be reasonably calculated to allow the student to benefit from instruction. If the student is receiving benefit from the special education services, the student will progress at his/her own individual rate. A student who has a disability will always have a disability and would not be expected to progress in all areas at the same rate as his/her regular education peers. 

    What is a Disability?

    A disability is a lifelong disabling condition often associated with a physical, mental, or communication impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, including education.

    Who Can Receive Special Education Services? The child must meet MN state eligibility criteria in one or more of the following areas:

     Autism Spectrum Disorders


     Deaf/Hard of Hearing

    Developmental Cognitive Disability: Mild/Moderate

     Developmental Cognitive Disability: Severe-Profound

     Emotional or Behavioral-Disorder

    Developmental Delay (birth to age 7)

    Other Health Disability

    Specific Learning Disability

    Physical Impairment  Severe Multiple Impairments Visual Impairment
    Speech/Language Impairment Traumatic Brain Injury  

    An evaluation is used to document the existence of a disability. Below average academic performance alone does not qualify a student for special education.

    How Does a Student Receive Special Education Services?

    The school districts special education programs and services are designed to meet the needs of students with various disabilities from birth to age 21. If a student has met Minnesota eligibility through a comprehensive evaluation, then a multi-disciplinary team of parents and professionals will meet to write goals to improve the areas of educational need identified for the student. These goals will be written on a document called an Individual Educational Program (IEP), an Individual Service Plan (ISP), an Interagency Individual Intervention Plan (IIIP) or an Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP) for students ages 2 and under.

    Special education programs require parents to participate in making decisions for their child. If a parent is not available, a surrogate parent will be appointed. 

    Specialized instruction may be provided in the areas of need. Special education areas of need may include:                                                             



     Math Skills

     Self-Help Skills

     Motor Skills



    Organizational Skills 

    Social Skills

    Transition Skills

    Emotional Skills


    Related services such as occupational therapy, Physical therapy, Speech, Developmental Adaptive Physical Education (DAPE), etc. are provided if it is determined the child would not be able to meet their instructional goals without this service. Related Services cannot be provided unless the student is already receiving a special education service in a disability area, such as a learning disability. The related service is only provided if the student requires the service in order to make progress on IEP/ISP/IIIP/IFSP goals. 

    What Should I Expect When My Child Receives Special Education Services? 

    Parents should expect to participate as a team member in decisions regarding their childs' special education program. A student should receive instruction that has been individualized to meet their specific needs. 

    Special education teachers will work with general education teachers to provide the appropriate adaptations within the general education setting. Adaptations can include highlighted textbooks, shortened assignments, class notes, as well as other aids to assist students to succeed in school.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    









Contact Us

  • Heather Harms 
    Director of Special Education

    Linda Hullopeter
    Assistant Director of Special Education

    Andrea Robbins
    Help Me Grow

    Angie Lund
    Administrative Assistant

    Vilay Miller
    Office Assistant/Due Process Clerk
    Mon.-Fri. 7am-3:30pm