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 are provided by over 200 staff including special education teachers, special education teacher assistants, speech pathologists and assistants, psychologists, an audiologist, occupational and physical therapists and therapy assistants, an adapted physical education teacher, interpreter, as well as curriculum coordinator, lead staff; hearing, vision, and autism consultants and secretaries.

 Students receive services in a variety of settings. RCS has model inclusive practices and provides observation sites and training for North Carolina. Inclusion is based on the belief that all students belong to the same system and that all students benefit from a unified, team approach to education.

Although we have many inclusion programs, we also have traditional pullout and self-contained classes at some schools. A few students receive individualized alternative instruction or homebound services. Students are bused when necessary in order to receive an appropriate education program.

RCS has partnered with the state through a special federal school improvement grant to provide a model algebra and prealgebra program to students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms; all students in these classes will benefit from this model program, teacher training, special textbooks and materials, and regular in-class consultative 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. To discuss or make a complaint about services rendered, a parent can call Carol Ann Hudgens, Facilitation and Complaints at NCDPI at 919-807-4024.
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 (336-627-2709). 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 from the resultant team of educators.

Eligibility For Special Services

The Public Schools of North Carolina, Exceptional Children Division provides local units with detailed procedures for the delivery of special education services. These rules and regulations are detailed in Policies Governing Services for Children With Disabilities Department of Public Instruction.
Rockingham CountySpecial Education Directory
Administrative Team and Specialized 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



Assistant Superintendent

Cindy Corcoran



Visually Impaired

Kelly Myers



Student Services Support Lead                      

Stephanie Moore



Headcount and Data

Becky Garrison



504 Coordinator

Jill Bullock



Out Reach Program

Janet Winn



Occupational Therapy

Rebecca Moore



Middle School Advisor

Amy Dowdle



Physical Therapy

Katherine Davis



Assistant Director of Support Services

Holly Williamson



Preschool Coordinator

Amy Rose 



Program Coordinator

Pam Watkins



Day Treatment Director

Terry Aiken
634-3209   taiken@rock.k12.nc.us

Speech/Language Lead- School Age

Debbie Lassiter



State Testing for EC/Transition/HS Lead        

William O'Neil




Pam Watkins



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 with Disabilities: Children with disabilities from birth to 3 years old are identified through the Children’s Developmental Services Agency. On their third birthday 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) in order that they receive free, appropriate public education including special education 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:  RCS Preschool 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.

Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists lead the process in development, implementation, and coordination of the occupational therapy program. Screening, evaluation, educational program and transition planning, therapeutic intervention, and exit planning is provided 
for students identified with disabilities that interfere with their ability to perform daily life activities or participate in necessary or desired occupations. Professional judgment and clinical knowledge are used to develop individualized programming based on occupational performance deficits in the areas of personal care, student role, interaction skills, process skills, play, community integration/work, and 
graphic communication. Occupational therapist regularly collaborates with other disciplines and services at departmental and system levels.  Please click here for the RCS OT Brochure for more information. 
LEA Self Assessment- EC Departmetn 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.

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



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