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 therapyassistants, 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 andprovides observation sites and training for North Carolina. Inclusion is based 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 many inclusion 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-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. 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

     Lead School Psychologist

    Holli Farr



    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



    Executive Director of Exceptional Children and Mental Health Programs; District Crisis Coordinator

    Stephanie Lowe Ellis



    Visually Impaired

    Kelly Myers



    EC Student Services Support Lead/Behavioral Support

    Stephanie Moore



    Headcount and Data

    Tracy Curtis



    504 Coordinator

    Holly Williamson



    Out Reach Program

    Janet Winn



    Occupational Therapy

    Rebecca Moore



    Middle School Advisor

    Amy Dowdle



    Physical Therapy

    Katherine Davis




    Pam Watkins



    Preschool Coordinator

    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 July 30, 2018