511 Harrington Highway | Eden, NC | 336.627-2600

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Exceptional Children - General Information

Director of Exceptional Children's Program

Stephanie Lowe Ellis, Ed.S.

Contact Information: 336-627-2705 

The Rockingham County Schools (RCS) has extensive programs to meet the needs of students with disabilities.On Dec. 1, 2016, RCS was serving 2,066 students ages 3-21 who were identified as having special needs. About 12.5% of school age students are identified.Services for students with disabilities range from minor classroom and/or therapy supports to extensive full time programs. Services are based on Individualized Education Plans (IEP) which are developed jointly by parents and school staff at least annually and outline needed services as well as any accommodations and/or modifications required in the general education class and for testing. All students are expected to progress in the general curriculum and all students must be included in any state evaluations used for student or school accountability purposes. You may access at breakdown of this information per school Here and Here for a breakdown of the number of students identified within each disability category.

Services areprovided by over 200 staff including special education teachers, specialeducation teacher assistants, speech pathologists and assistants,psychologists, an audiologist, occupational and physical therapists and therapyassistants, an adapted physical education teacher, interpreter, as well ascurriculum coordinator, lead staff; hearing, vision, and autism consultants andsecretaries.

Students receiveservices in a variety of settings. RCS has model inclusive practices andprovides observation sites and training forNorth Carolina. Inclusion isbased on the belief that all students belong to the same system and that allstudents benefit from a unified, team approach to education.

Although we have manyinclusion programs, we also have traditional pullout and self-contained classesat some schools. A few students receive individualized alternative instructionor homebound services. Students are bused when necessary in order to receive anappropriate education program.

RCS has partnered withthe state through a special federal school improvement grant to provide a modelalgebra and prealgebra program to students with disabilities in inclusiveclassrooms; all students in these classes will benefit from this model program,teacher training, special textbooks and materials, and regular in-classconsultative services.

 In addition, RCS has community based instructional services for specific high school students with disabilities where they can learn job skills directly in community sites and work towards a High School Certificate or a High School Diploma through the Occupational Course of Study.

 All students in RCS who have identified disabilities receive free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Each student who qualifies for Exceptional Children’s services receives an Individualized Education Plan that is specifically tailored to their areas of need. This provides important information for individuals who work with and teach that student. 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 principal at the local school, or it is also helpful to contact the Director of Exceptional Children Program in the central office of the school system. Your child is important to us and we want to make sure that we address your concerns. Please contact the EC Director, Stephanie Lowe Ellis at 336-627-2705 if you have a concern that was not addressed at the school level. To discuss or make a complaint about services rendered, a parent may also view the NCDPI Dispute Resolution webpage or the Parent Right and Responsibilities In Special Education Procedural Safeguards.

If parents suspect that their child may have a disability, they are encouraged to discuss their concerns with the child’s teacher(s). They may also request consideration for referral for evaluation from their principal or counselor or they may call the special education department at central office (336-627-2705). For preschool students, parents with concerns should call the special education department at central office directly.


 Special Education Law requires that the first consideration for placement of students is the least restrictive environment (LRE). Thus the first consideration for any student with special needs is placement in the general education classroom or, for a preschool student, in a natural preschool setting. RCS’s commitment to inclusive practices means that we work hard to team with general education to provide the supports and instruction needed to maintain students in the general education or natural environments as much as possible.

 Inclusion means students with and without disabilities working side by side. As opposed to mainstreaming where students are placed back into general education classes without support,inclusion involves the addition of special education and related services to the general program whereby students with and without disabilities benefit fromthe resultant team of educators.

 Eligibility For SpecialServices

 The Public Schools ofNorth Carolina, Exceptional Children Division provides local units withdetailed procedures for the delivery of special education services. These rules and regulations are detailed Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities Department of Public Instruction.

For more information about Discipline Procedures, Child Find Process, and Transfer of Students- please visit the EC Staff Information Page by clicking here.

 RockinghamCounty SpecialEducation Directory

Administrative Team andSpecialized Assignments for Special Education Services

 The main contact number for special education services is 336-627-2705. Feel free to call the main number for any questions or information. Following is a detailed listing of special education contacts.




Email Address





Adapted Physical Education

Tisha Owens




Debbie Lassiter



Autism Advisor /Self Contained

Pam Watkins



Behavioral Support

Janet Winn



Program Lead/Compliance

Rhonda Brown



Program Lead/Home & Private School

Amy Wilson



Director of Exceptional Children

Stephanie Lowe Ellis



Visually Impaired

Kelly Myers



EC Student Services Support Lead/Behavioral Support

Stephanie Moore



Headcount and Data

Becky Garrison



504 Coordinator

Charity Bumpass



Out Reach Program

Janet Winn



Occupational Therapy

Rebecca Moore



Middle School Advisor

Amy Dowdle



Physical Therapy

Katherine Davis




Pam Watkins




Amy Rose



Program Coordinator

Pam Watkins



Day Treatment Director

Terry Aiken



Speech/Language Lead- School Age

Debbie Lassiter



State Testing for EC/Transition/HS Lead

William O'Neil








Medicaid Billing

 Parents whose children receive services from the Exceptional Children's Department of Rockingham County should know that IDEA 2004 [Title I B 612a12A(i) requires that school systems access Medicaid funds for funding services from state or local educational resources. Under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a parent's permission is required for the school district to release information about their child. This permission releases information needed in order to bill the North Carolina Medicaid program for services provided through the child's individualized education plan (IEP). Whether or not a parent gives permission to release this information will not affect their child's special education programs. Effective March 18, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education through the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services determined that the frequency requirement for obtaining parental consent to bill Medicaid should be revised to request a one time written consent from a parent before accessing a student's Medicaid benefits. Parents are entitled to have a copy of any information that is released to the Medicaid program and can revoke their permission at any time.

 Preschool Resources for Children with Disabilities

Children withDisabilities: Children with disabilities from birth to 3 years old areidentified through the Children’s Developmental Services Agency. On their thirdbirthday children with disabilities become the responsibility of the Rockingham County Schools. We work with a community collaborative committee to ensure a smooth transition to school programs. Children are served in home, child care,or center based programs based on an Individual Education Program (IEP) inorder that they receive free, appropriate public education including specialeducation services as well as any needed educational therapies. For more information this Q& A Form can be accessed. You can also go to the Office of Early Learning - North Carolina at http://www.earlylearning.nc.gov/index.asp

 More at Four: Children who are at risk may be determined eligible for More at Four services through the Rockingham County Partnership for Children (336-342-9676). These students are served at identified day care sites throughout the county or are served in school preschool classrooms. Students receive a rich curriculum helping them to become good learners and to be ready for school.

 For a better understanding of the Preschool Programs offered by Rockingham County Schools,you may click on this brochure: RCSPreschool Brochure

 For more information,please call the school's Central Office at 336-627-2705 or the Partnership at 336 342-9676.

 State Improvement Grants

Math: Through a grant awarded to Rockingham County Schools by the State Improvement Project, we pilot best practices in mathematics and implement and demonstrate these practices. We also provide math foundations to staff throughout the district. For more information,contact Amy Wilson at 336-627-2705.

Reading: Rockingham County Schools also has received a grant through the State Improvement Project to implement research proven reading programs. Our staff members have extensive training in reading foundations to serve all of the students in Rockingham County.  Both the SRA Corrective and Wilson Reading programs are being implemented with success. In addition, staff from across the county have been trained in Reading Foundations. For more information, contact Amy Wilson at 336-627-2705.

LEA Self-Assessment-EC Department Strategic Planning

The LEA Self Assessment is a system of collecting and analyzing data concerning outcomes for students with disabilities for the purpose of improving results. The stated primary focus of these monitoring activities is on improving education results and functional outcomes for all students with disabilities.

 Please look here for the EC Department Strategic Plan/LEA Self Assessment Goals.

For further information,questions or comments contact:

Stephanie Lowe Ellis, Ed.S., Director of Exceptional Children's Programs
Rockingham County Schools
511 Harrington Highway
Eden, North Carolina 27288
Phone 336-627-2705
E-mail: slellis@rock.k12.nc.us



Last Modified on March 12, 2017