Special Education Services

A full continuum of special education and related services is available to all children who meet specific eligibility requirements. Each school provides a variety of services to address the diverse needs of their student population. All schools are committed to providing services in the least restrictive environment. This commitment enables children to participate in and benefit from the general education curriculum as much as possible.

The goal of special education and related services is to support each student with a disability and address the student’s individual needs. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed in collaboration with parents, general education teachers and special education staff on a yearly basis. The IEP is reviewed at least annually. The child’s progress on their goals is reported to parents three times each year.

Students with disabilities who do not qualify for an individualized education program under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, may qualify for services under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 if the student (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of a physical or mental impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment. Questions about the identification, assessment and placement of students should be directed to Cynthia Gordon, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education, at (847) 357-5052.

A Child Study Team comprised of general and special education teachers, a nurse, psychologist, social worker, guidance counselor, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech/language pathologist and administrator is available in each school. The team collaborates to adapt curriculum and teaching strategies to meet individual student needs.

Special Education Parent Rights – ISBE

Cynthia Gordon, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services

Sheila McGreevy, Administrative Assistant

Jennifer Naddeo, Executive Director of Special Education

Heather Richards, Director of Special Education

Allison Schultz, Director of Special Education

Michelle Rhodes, Director of Special Education

Jenny Clark, Early Learning Center Principal

  • Step 1: Referral – A referral is a formal request that a child be evaluated for eligibility to receive special education. A school professional or a parent may make a referral if a disability is suspected that affects a child’s ability to perform at school. A referral is typically made after various forms of intervention have been utilized and documented through the Response to Intervention model.
  • Step 2: Evaluation – Once a child has been referred for an evaluation and parent consent is given, the school has 60 school days in which the evaluation must be completed. The evaluation is the collection of information from formal and informal assessments of the student, records, observations and interviews. The information obtained through the evaluation will be used to make key educational decisions for the child. A re-evaluation can occur at least every three years.
  • Step 3: Eligibility Conference – Upon completion of the evaluation, the parents will meet with a team of qualified professionals to interpret the evaluation data. Parents will be notified of the scheduled time, date, and purpose of the meeting at least 10 days in advance. At the conference, it will be determined if the child has a disability, if the disability is having an adverse impact on the child’s education, and whether special education services are needed.
  • Step 4: Individualized Education Program – If the child is eligible for special education services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed that will include specific goals and objectives that address the individual child’s strengths and needs. At the IEP meeting, the team will determine the appropriate special education services and educational environment for the child.
  • Step 5: Annual Review – The special education team will meet annually to review the current IEP, discuss the child’s progress, and develop new goals and objectives. Although the team will meet at least once per year for an annual review, parents may request a meeting at any time to discuss IEP goals, progress and/or concerns.

A child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) will include:

  • Present level of educational performance
  • Annual goals
  • Progress toward annual goals and how parent(s) will be informed
  • Short‐term instructional objectives/benchmarks
  • Specific special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and a statement of program modifications or supports for school personnel
  • Beginning date, amount, frequency, location, and an anticipated duration of services and modifications
  • Extent of participation in regular education programs
  • Language(s) or mode(s) of communication
  • Participation in assessments
  • Placement
  • Extended school year services

Additional information may also be provided in the IEP if needed based upon the evaluation results and input from school personnel.

Communication – Having open lines of communication between parents and all members of the special education team is a vital component in the success of the program. The use of email is encouraged for brief questions or sharing of information. Parents can request an IEP meeting or informal meeting at any time to discuss issues and concerns. All questions regarding a child’s special education program should be directed to the case manager. If the case manager cannot answer your question, he/she will help direct you to the appropriate person. Parents will receive progress updates on IEP goals in report cards each trimester.

Parent consent is required for initial placement in a special education program, and any significant changes in placement would be determined at an IEP meeting. All students will be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE), meaning that students will be placed in the educational program/setting that is most appropriate to his/her needs and least restrictive of his/her interactions with non‐disabled peers. The following locations may be determined as an educational environment:

  • General Education – With this placement, the child will receive specifically designed instruction with supplementary aids and services in the general education classroom.
  • Resource – With this placement, the child will receive specifically designed instruction in the resource teacher’s room for a part of the day. The child will be included in the regular education class to the maximum extent appropriate for the remainder of the day.
  • Co-Taught Classes – Students may benefit from enrollment in a class that is team‐taught by a general education teacher and a special education teacher. This is regarded as a general education environment.
  • Instructional Classes – With this placement, the child will receive specifically designed instruction in a special education classroom. With support, the child is included in the regular education class whenever appropriate.
  • District 54 Therapeutic Day School – With this placement, the child will receive specifically designed instruction in a special school.
  • Private Therapeutic Day School – With this placement, the child will receive specifically designed instruction in a special school. When the IEP team recommends this placement, funding for tuition and transportation is provided through the school district.

Case Manager: The case manager oversees the child’s Individualized Education Program. The case manager serves as the primary contact for questions regarding the child’s special education program. If the case manager cannot answer your question, he/she will help direct you to the appropriate person.

Resource Teacher: The resource teacher provides individualized instruction to help meet the educational goals of the child’s IEP. The resource teacher may work with the student in the general education classroom or in a separate room.

General Education Teacher: The general education teacher refers to the teacher who is with the child when he/she is mainstreamed in the general education classroom.

Instructional Classroom Teacher: The fully supported teacher refers to the teacher who instructs in the self‐contained district‐wide elementary class. This teacher helps carry out educational goals on the child’s IEP.

Special Education Administrator: The administrator who is in charge of and oversees the entire special education program in District 54

Paraprofessional: Paraprofessionals are staff members who assist special education students and teachers in special and general education environments.

Occupational Therapist (OT): An occupational therapist helps a child with fine motor development, daily living skills, and functional adaptations relating to the educational environment.

Physical Therapist (PT): A physical therapist helps a child with gross motor development, functional mobility, and muscle development.

School Psychologist: A school psychologist conducts assessments and evaluations of a child’s skills and abilities and devises interventions, which are then explained to the educational team.

Social Worker: A social worker assesses the child’s social and emotional needs. He or she may also help a child improve his/her self‐concept or help him/her integrate into the classroom.

Speech/Language Pathologist: The speech/language pathologist provides evaluations and treatment for a child in the comprehension and use of language as well as speech production.

Nurse: The nurse will collaborate with parents to obtain pertinent health information, in order to develop a care plan when there is a medical related condition that can interfere with a child’s learning ability.