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EXCEPTIONAL STUDENT EDUCATION

The purpose of the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department is to ensure the appropriate education of all students with disabilities by establishing high expectations, removing barriers for students and teachers, modeling effective practices, and sharing information and expertise. Programs and services are available for students ages 3 through 22 with autism spectrum disorder, deaf-blindness, emotional behavioral disorders, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, traumatic brain injuries, developmental delays and visual impairments. Services are available for infants and toddlers with vision and hearing disabilities. More information can be found on the Exceptional Student Education web page, accessible through the “Departments” link on the OCPS website, ocps.net.

The primary focus of ESE is to help students access the general education curriculum. A student’s primary educational needs, identified in an Individual Education Plan (IEP), are met through the use of accommodations, services, specialized instructional materials, and behavioral approaches that are research-based and exemplify best practices. Eligible students are served in the least restrictive environment, as appropriate to the student’s identified needs. Screening, evaluation and referral services are available to preschool children ages 3-5 at Preschool Diagnostic Intervention Services (PDIS). Parents who would like more information may contact the center by calling 407.317.3503. School-age children needing evaluation services are referred through their school staffing specialists.

Other Exceptional Student Education department resources include: Parent Support Team (407.317.3200, Ext. 2002614); Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource System (FDLRS - pronounced “Fiddlers”) and Florida Inclusion Network, which serves as a resource for parents and teachers of students with disabilities (407.317.3660); and the Florida Department of Education, which offers a parental choice program for ESE students through the John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program.

For specific information about the McKay program, please visit the OCPS McKay website at ocps.net (under the Departments tab), visit the FLDOE website at www.floridaschoolchoice.org or call the district office at 407.317.3275.

For more information about ESE programs and services, please contact your child’s guidance counselor or the staffing specialist at the school. You may also contact the Exceptional Student Education office at 407.317.3229.