Exceptional Student Education

Polk County’s Exceptional Student Education Department serves more than 18,000 students from preschool through 22 years of age. They include students with various disabilities as well as gifted learners.

Staff members work with students’ families and teachers to identify available services and programs to help these students succeed in school and in their lives beyond the classroom. Some examples of support services include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, mental health counseling, assistive technology and audiological evaluations.

We thank you for taking time to learn more about the ESE department and the special students who are our privilege to serve.

Need Help?

Support for ESE Students During Closures Related to Coronavirus

Polk County Public Schools has released its Instructional Continuity Plan (ICP), which details how learning will continue for the school district’s students while schools remain closed in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

PCPS understands its students with special needs face unique challenges during this time. We remain committed to providing the highest quality services we can and have compiled valuable information and resources to support our students and their families.


Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Prekindergarten services are provided to children ages 3-5 who meet the criteria for any of the disabilities as defined by the Florida Department of Education.


The Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) is a network of state and federally funded centers that provide support services to exceptional student educators, children, parents, and community agencies.

Transition Program

Polk County Public Schools has a “Continuum of Services” in place to support students and families with their successful transition from school to careers.


SEDNET is a network of 19 regional projects that are comprised of the major child-serving agencies, community-based service providers, students, and their families. Local school districts serve as fiscal agents for each regional project.


The Gifted Program provides educational opportunities to gifted students, helping them develop to their full intellectual potential and become more cognizant of their socio-emotional needs.

ESE Advisory Council

The ESE Advisory Council explores ways to improve services for students with various disabilities as well as
gifted learners.

ESE Programs & Related Services

ESE Activities

ESE Projects

Listing of Schools by Service Area:

Additional ESE Support for the West and North Central Areas: 863-648-3248

List of Schools:

Auburndale Central Elementary
Carlton Palmore Elementary
Clarence Boswell Elementary
Cleveland Court Elementary
Dixieland Elementary
Dr. N.E. Roberts Elementary
Edgar L. Padgett Elementary
Highlands Grove Elementary
James W. Sikes Elementary

Kathleen Elementary
Kingsford Elementary
Lake Alfred Elementary
Lena Vista Elementary
Lincoln Avenue Academy
Medulla Elementary
North Lakeland Elementary
Polk City Elementary

Bruce Wagner Elementary
Clem Churchwell Elementary
Scott Lake Elementary
Sleepy Hill Elementary
Socrum Elementary
Southwest Elementary
Valleyview Elementary
Wendell Watson Elementary

Additional ESE Support for the North East and South East Areas:  863-535-6485

List of Schools:

Alta Vista Elementary
Alturas Elementary
Anna Woodbury Elementary
Bartow Elementary Academy
Ben Hill Griffin Jr. Elementary
Bethune Academy
Chain of Lakes Elementary
Eagle Lake Elementary
Elbert Elementary
Floral Avenue Elementary

Frank E. Brigham Academy
Fred G. Garner Elementary
Frostproof Elementary
Garden Grove Elementary
Gibbons Street Elementary
Haines City Head Start
Highland City Elementary
Horizons Elementary
James E. Stephens Elementary
Jean O’Dell Learning Center

Lewis Elementary
Loughman Oaks Elementary
Palmetto Elementary
Pinewood Elementary
Sandhill Elementary
Spessard L. Holland Elementary
Spook Hill Elementary
Wahneta Elementary
Winter Haven Head Start

Additional ESE Support for Middle Schools: 863-499-2826

List of Schools:

Bartow Middle
Citrus Ridge: A Civics Academy
Daniel Jenkins Academy of Technology
Davenport School of the Arts
Doris A Sanders Learning Center
Dundee Ridge Middle Academy
Gause Academy of Leadership
Jere L. Stambaugh Middle

Jewett Middle Academy Magnet
Jewett School of the Arts
Karen M. Siegel Academy
Lake Gibson Middle
Lake Marion Creek Middle
Lakeland Highlands Middle
Lawton Chiles Middle Academy
Mulberry Middle

PACE Center for Girls
REAL Academies
Rochelle School of the Arts
Rosabelle W. Blake Academy
Sleepy Hill Middle
Union Academy

Additional ESE Support for High Schools: 863-956-2082

List of Schools: 

Auburndale Senior High
Bartow Senior High
Bill Duncan Opportunity Center
Department of Juvenile Justice – Out of County
Donald E. Woods Opportunity Center
East Area Adult School
Fort Meade Middle-Senior
Fresh Start Davenport
Fresh Start Lakeland
Frostproof Middle-Senior

George W. Jenkins Senior High
Haines City High School
Harrison School for the Arts
International Baccalaureate at Bartow High
International Baccalaureate at Haines City High
Kathleen Senior High
Lake Gibson Senior High
Lake Region Senior High
Lakeland Senior High
Mulberry Senior High

Ridge Community High
Ridge Technical College
Ridge Teen Parent Program
Roosevelt Academy
Summerlin Academy
Tenoroc High
Traviss Technical College
West Area Adult School
Winter Haven Senior High

Additional ESE Support for School Improvement: 863-535-6485

List of Schools:

Combee Academy of Design & Engineering (CODE)
Crystal Lake Elementary
Crystal Lake Middle School
Denison Middle
Dundee Elementary Academy
Eastside Elementary
Griffin Elementary
Inwood Elementary

Jesse Keen Elementary
John Snively Elementary
Kathleen Middle
Lake Alfred Polytech Academy
Lake Shipp Elementary
Laurel Elementary
McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy
Oscar J. Pope Elementary

Philip O’Brien Elementary
Purcell Elementary
Shelley S. Boone Middle
Southwest Middle
Walter Caldwell Elementary
Westwood Middle
Winston Academy of Engineering