ESE Parent Symposium: Passport to Everything Exceptional Virtual Event

This event is a collaboration between Polk County Schools, FDLRS/FIN, and community agencies, for the purpose of providing resources and information to parents of students with disabilities.

Register
https://whova.com/portal/registration/esepa_202110/

Travel Packages are Set to embark October 23, 2021 from 8:30am – 3:00pm

  • What are in Class Service Delivery Models?
  • Building Independence in Students with Disabilities
  • Understanding the World of ESE
  • Using Accessibility Tools to Help Your Child Succeed
  • What is an Inclusive Classroom?
  • Assistive Technology for the Home Environment
  • Understanding Quality Individual Education Plans
  • Visual Strategies
  • And a host of other sessions
  • ABCs of Behavior

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.

PreK

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.

FDLRS

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

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.

Gifted

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

Assistive technology includes items that assist students with completing tasks independently. Click here for more information.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by an uneven developmental profile and a pattern of qualitative impairments in social interaction or communication, and the presence of restricted, repetitive, and/or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

The Autism Support Team for Polk County Public Schools provides information to schools, parents and students about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), such as Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. The team consults with schools and supports the staff and students when needed. It also offers a variety of training opportunities for teachers, support staff, and administrators. The team provides information to parents about various supports offered in our community.

A student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing has hearing loss that, aided or unaided, impacts the processing of linguistic information, and which adversely affects performance in the educational environment. The degree of loss may range from mild to profound. Click here for more information.

A student is classified as developmentally delayed when:

He or she is between birth and 2 years of age and has a delay in one or more of the following:

  1. Adaptive or self-help development
  2. Cognitive development
  3. Communication development
  4. Social/emotional development
  5. Physical/motor development

Or the child is 3-5 years of age and is developmentally delayed in one or more of the following areas:

  1. Adaptive or self-help development
  2. Cognitive development
  3. Communication development
  4. Social or emotional development
  5. Physical development, including fine, gross, or perceptual-motor

Dual-sensory impairments affect both vision and hearing, the combination of which seriously impairs a student’s ability to acquire information, communicate, or function within the environment. Children may also have a degenerative condition that will lead to such an impairment.

This classification is applicable for children aged birth through two (2) years of age who are diagnosed with a physical or mental condition known to have a high probability of resulting in developmental delay or disability. Such conditions can include genetic disorders, metabolic disorders, neurological abnormalities and injuries, or severe attachment disorder.

A student with an emotional/behavioral disability has persistent — meaning they are not sufficiently responsive to implemented evidence-based interventions — and consistent emotional or behavioral responses that adversely affect performance in the educational environment that cannot be attributed to age, culture, gender, or ethnicity.

  • The definition includes the terms:
    • Persistent” — Not sufficiently responsive to implemented “observed” evidenced-based interventions; exhibited for an extended period of time (six months prior to referral)
    • Consistent” — Exhibited in two or more settings; one setting must be school, others may be home, community, and/or transitioning to/from school
  • Requires that emotional/behavioral characteristics be present for at least six months prior to referral, except in “extraordinary circumstances.”
  • Allows for “extraordinary circumstances.”
    • For eligibility determination (prior to six months) to address the acute onset of mental illness.
    • The exception must be approved by the ESE director.
    • IEP team reviews placement within one year.
  • Adversely affects educational performance in the educational environment that cannot be attributed to age, culture, gender,and ethnicity (compared to peer group.)
  • Requires that schools and evaluation teams consider the student’s response to academic and behavioral interventions (RtI), which have been implemented with fidelity, before making a determination of Emotional Behaviors Disabilities.
  • Eligibility criteria include both internal and external factors as a means to identify students:
    • Students may be considered as having an emotional/behavioral disability if they present internal factors that show as feelings, symptoms, or fears.
    • These factors may result in both internal and external manifestations.
    • Must prove that “external” factors are a result of “internal” factors.
    • Cannot be eligible if only “external” factors are present.

Functional Behavioral Assessment and a Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan are required for eligibility determination. Must show that the BIP has been implemented with fidelity.

A homebound or hospitalized student is a student who has a medically diagnosed physical or psychiatric condition that is acute or catastrophic in nature, or a chronic illness, or a repeated intermittent illness due to a persistent medical problem, that confines the student to home or hospital, and restricts activities for an extended period of time. Click here for more information.

An intellectual disability is defined as significantly below average general intellectual and adaptive functioning manifested during the developmental period, with significant delays in academic skills. The developmental period refers to birth to eighteen (18) years of age.

Language impairments are disorders of language that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the student’s typical learning environment, and results in the need for exceptional student education. Language impairment is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. These include:

  • Phonology – Phonology is defined as the sound systems of a language and the linguistic conventions of a language that guide the sound selection and sound combinations used to convey meaning;
  • Morphology – Morphology is defined as the system that governs the internal structure of words and the construction of word forms;
  • Syntax – Syntax is defined as the system governing the order and combination of words to form sentences, and the relationships among the elements within a sentence;
  • Semantics – Semantics is defined as the system that governs the meanings of words and sentences; and
  • Pragmatics – Pragmatics is defined as the system that combines language components in functional and socially appropriate communication.

The language impairment may manifest in significant difficulties affecting listening comprehension, oral expression, social interaction, reading, writing, or spelling. A language impairment is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.

Technical Assistance Contact: Joanne Stidham

A student who requires occupational therapy is one whose physical, motor, or neurological deficits result in a significant dysfunction in daily living skills, academic learning skills, adaptive, social or emotional behaviors in the educational setting. A student is eligible only when there is an existing ESE eligibility area and additional support from the occupational therapist is needed to achieve T/IEP goals.

Contact: Kenny Hodges, (863) 412-7649
Technical Assistance Contact: Del-Jean Ross

A student who requires occupational therapy is one whose physical, motor, or neurological deficits result in a significant dysfunction in daily living skills, academic learning skills, adaptive, social or emotional behaviors in the educational setting. A student is eligible only when there is an existing ESE eligibility area and additional support from the occupational therapist is needed to achieve T/IEP goals.

Contact: Dr. Kenny Hodges, 863-535-6485

Technical Assistance Contact: Del-Jean Ross

Orthopedic impairment means a severe skeletal, muscular, or neuromuscular impairment. The term includes impairments resulting from congenital anomalies (e.g. including but not limited to skeletal deformity or spina bifida), and impairments resulting from other causes (e.g., including but not limited to cerebral palsy or amputations).

Technical Assistance Contact: Joanne Stidham

A student who receives physical therapy is one who requires a specially prescribed program directed toward the development, improvement, or restoration of neuromuscular, or sensori-motor function, relief of pain, or control of postural deviations to attain adequate performance and achieve T/IEP goals in an educational setting. A physician’s prescription is required.

Contact: Kenny Hodges, (863) 412-7649
Technical Assistance Contact: Del-Jean Ross

A specific learning disability is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest in significant difficulties affecting the ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematics. Associated conditions may include, but are not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, or developmental aphasia. A specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of a visual, hearing, motor, intellectual, or emotional/behavioral disability, limited English proficiency, or environmental, cultural, or economic factors.

Technical Assistance Contact: Phyllis Hill

Speech impairments are disorders of speech sounds, fluency, or voice that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the educational environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education.

  • Speech sound disorder – A speech sound disorder is a phonological or articulation disorder that is evidenced by the atypical production of speech sounds characterized by substitutions, distortions, additions, or omissions that interfere with intelligibility. A speech sound disorder is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.
    • Phonological disorder – A phonological disorder is an impairment in the system of phonemes and phoneme patterns within the context of spoken language.
    • Articulation disorder – An articulation disorder is characterized by difficulty in the articulation of speech sounds that may be due to a motoric or structural problem.
  • Fluency disorder – A fluency disorder is characterized by deviations in continuity, smoothness, rhythm, or effort in spoken communication. It may be accompanied by excessive tension and secondary behaviors, such as struggle and avoidance. A fluency disorder is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.

Voice disorder – A voice disorder is characterized by the atypical production or absence of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, or duration of phonation that is not primarily the result of factors related to chronological age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or limited English proficiency.

Technical Assistance Contact: Joanne Stidham

Students who are visually impaired include students who are blind, have no vision or have little potential for using vision or students who have low vision. The term visual impairment does not include students who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual perceptual and/or visual-motor difficulties.

Contact: Stephanie Gardner, 499-2907

Technical Assistance Contact: Roberta Dailey

A traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects educational performance. The term applies to mild, moderate, or severe, open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one (1) or more areas such as cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem-solving, sensory, perceptual and motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information processing, or speech. The term includes anoxia due to trauma. The term does not include brain injuries that are congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma.

Technical Assistance Contact: Melanie Peter

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