The mission of the Exceptional Children Division is to assure that students with disabilities develop mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially through the provision of an appropriate individualized education in the least restrictive environment.
Within the Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (Department of Public Instruction), are detailed procedures that outline the rules and regulations that NC public schools must follow for the delivery of special education services. Services are provided under the following areas of identification:
• Autism Spectrum Disorder (AU),
• Developmental Delay (DD),
• Serious Emotional Disability (SE),
• Hearing Impairment (HI),
• Intellectual Disability (ID),
• Multiple Disabilities (MD),
• Other Health Impairment (OHI),
• Orthopedic Impairment,
• Specific Learning Disability (SLD),
• Speech or Language Impairment (SLI),
• Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI),
• Visual Impairment including Blindness (VI).
If you are new to PCCS and have a child who has been receiving special education services, contact Elizabeth Berkebile, EC Coordinator (at the elementary campus) or Nancy Revels, EC Teacher (at the secondary campus). Be prepared to provide documentation of your child’s special needs (such as a copy of the student’s Individual Education Plan). When school is not in session, you may contact:
Exceptional Children (EC) Department, P.O. Box 3706 Gastonia NC 28054
Elementary Phone 704-853-2428 Secondary Phone 704-853-4640
If you are concerned your child might be in need of special education and/or related services, you should contact the EC Department.
Exceptional Children’s Coordinator/Teacher: Elizabeth Berkebile
High School Teachers: Nancy Revels, Barbara Scruggs, Kyle Finks
Middle School Teachers: Ilene Dellinger, Sharon Abernathy
Elementary School Teachers: Claudia Blackwood, BJ Waelz
What is Project Child Find?
An effort coordinated by your local school system and the Exceptional Children Division, State Department of Public Instruction, to:
• Locate and identify children and youth ages birth through 21 with disabilities who are in need of special education and related services.
• Inform parents and/or guardians of the services available from their local school system and other state and community agencies.
Who are the Children?
Children and youth who have been diagnosed or are suspected to have intellectual, physical, or emotional disabilities and are unable to benefit from a regular school program without special assistance.
What help is available?
• A complete evaluation and, if appropriate,
• An Individualized Education Program for children with a disability beginning at age three,
• An Individual Family Service Plan for each child with a disability if applicable
• A referral to other agencies when needed.
The special education process is a collaboration between families and PCCS. It is important for parents of children with disabilities to understand their rights throughout this process.
Procedural Safeguards: Handbook on Parents’ Rights
As stated in the Procedural Safeguards: Handbook on Parents’ Rights, Public Schools of North Carolina, Exceptional Children Division, “The IDEA requires schools to provide parents of a child with a disability a notice containing a full explanation of the procedural safeguards (legal rights) available under the IDEA and the federal regulations.” Additional information can be found at the US Department of Education’s searchable website at http://idea.ed.gov/.
Advocates and Attorneys
Special Education Services believes that collaboration between district staff and parents is the best way to make decisions related to the development of a student’s IEP. From time to time, parents may wish to bring a representative to an IEP meeting, such as an advocate or attorney. If you need additional information about this, please contact Elizabeth Berkebile, EC Coordinator.
Any person who has a concern about the education of a student with a disability can raise the issue in one of several ways. For example, it is always appropriate to discuss the matter with the student’s teacher or the school administrator (Holly White, Ernie Bridges, or Jennifer Purdee. Also, a person may contact the Coordinator of Exceptional Children Program, Elizabeth Berkebile, to discuss their concerns and to work towards a resolution. In additional, any person may contact the Department of Public Instruction Exceptional Children’s Division for disputes concerning a student with a disability.
Information for dispute resolutions can be found at https://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/dispute-resolution/due-process-hearings The consultants for dispute resolution work with parents, traditional local educational agencies, charter schools, state operated programs and other individuals to resolve disputes. They provide information about facilitated IEP meetings, mediation, formal written complaints and due process hearings. They also investigate formal written complaints.
504 Rehabilitation Act
PARENTAL RIGHTS REGARDING SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973
PCCS is committed to complying with federal law and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which ensures a free and appropriate education to each student with a disability. Under the Act, anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity may be considered handicapped. The school has responsibilities to identify, evaluate and provide appropriate education services for all students eligible as having a disability under Section 504. Parents are entitled to be fully informed of decisions regarding their child’s education and to be advised of those rights to challenge any of the decisions.
Parents have a right to:
Receive notification that your child is being evaluated and identified as handicapped.
Receive notification that an educational plan is being developed.
Have evaluation and educational decisions made from a variety of information sources and by persons who know your child, the evaluation data and placement options.
Examine all relevant records.
Have your child receive a free and appropriate public education which includes being educated with non-handicapped students to the maximum extent appropriate and receiving reasonable accommodation in school and school-related activities.
Have periodic reevaluations and an evaluation prior to any significant change in educational program.
Have an informal conference with the school principal and the multi-disciplinary team and, if your concerns are not addressed, you may request an impartial hearing.
Request an impartial formal hearing if there is disagreement related to actions regarding your child’s identification, evaluation, educational program or placement and be represented by counsel.
Please contact the school for questions or concerns regarding your child’s education.
For additional information regarding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, contact Becky Maxon, 504 Coordinator at 704-659-4808 ext. 4358.