Special Education

Director of Student Services

Ms. Natalie Mitchell,
Mr. Nathan Vent  
School Psychologists

Ms. Lashanda Shumpert, Administrative Assistant

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides for a free appropriate public education for all individuals with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21.

Elementary School District 159 provides and maintains appropriate and effective educational programs and services for every child with a disability who is between the ages of three (3) years of age up to graduation from 8th grade. Exceptional children served by District 159 must have an identified disability in any of the following exceptionalities: Visual Impairment, Hearing Impairment, Physical and Health Impairment, Speech and/or Language Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Behavior Disorder, Mental Impairment, Other Health Impairment and Autism.

The goal and purpose of such educational programming is grounded in the following:
1.) Enhance the educational experiences of all students with unique learning needs by providing a broad range of high quality programs and services;

2.) Maintain learning environments that empower youth with disabilities to become adults leading purposeful lives which include meaningful work, satisfying friendships, and maximizing self-sufficiency and independence within the community;

3.) Maintain conditions in our schools and communities that encourage meaningful and mutually enriching relationships among all students, without regard to disabilities or differences; and

4. ) Expand the knowledge and skills of staff, parents, and the community so that they may work together to implement and maintain effective and beneficial educational programs and supports to meet the learning needs of each and every student.

The Department of Student Services implements state and federal laws and regulations governing special education to ensure that identified students receive full educational opportunities. It also provides leadership through the development of policy and implementation documents and provides guidance to staff, schools and the community as a whole regarding the implementation of special education programs and services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the primary federal legislation that authorizes state and local aid for special education and related services for children with disabilities.

New instructional supports have been employed in all our schools and include cutting edge technology. These instructional supports provide diagnostic components and related individualized prescriptive learning activities that are aligned to the students’ needs. On-going professional development has been provided in response to the staff with respect to the implementation of these excellent instructional supports.

In addition to the services employed at our schools, Elementary School District 159 is a member of the South West Cook County Special Education Cooperative that provides comprehensive programming and supports for low-incidence students.

School District 159 provides all eligible children who are residents of the District with a comprehensive program of Special Education which includes:
  • Systematic procedures for identifying and evaluating the need for Special Education and related services;
  • A continuum of programmatic and related services to meet the specific needs of children for Special Education which may include, but is not limited to any of the following:
    • Regular Classes;
      • Speech and Language Services, Psychological Services, Health Services, Social Work Services, Hearing Itinerant, Vision Itinerant, Adaptive PE, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and other related services for students with disabilities who require these services as per the IEP;
    • Special Classes
      • Special schools services;
      • Resource services for students who require Special Education for less than 50% of the school day
      • Instructional classroom services for students who require Special Education services for more than 50% of the school day
    • Home/hospital services, and
    • State operated or nonpublic services.
  • Qualified personnel who are employed in sufficient numbers provide:
    Appropriate and adequate facilities, equipment and materials;
    Supervisory services;
    Instructional and Resource services;
    Related services; and
    Transportation services.
    Interaction with parents(s)/guardian(s) and other concerned persons that facilitates the educational development of children with disabilities.
Parents may inquire about pre-intervention services of case study evaluation at any time. Written parental permission must be secured before a Special Education case study evaluation can be conducted. If you suspect your child has a disability that is effecting your child's progress in school, please contact the building principal in your neighborhood school to request a referral for intervention or a case study evaluation. The principal will share your request with the school's Intervention Team. A representative of the Intervention Team will communicate with you regarding the process for intervention or consideration of a case study evaluation. In addition, the Intervention Team member will provide you with a document explaining Procedural Safeguards and Responsibilities for Parents/Guardians of Children with Disabilities (English or Spanish)

For additional information on special education services please contact  Director of Student Services at (708) 720-6638.