Special Education Services
Our goal in MMSD is to ensure all students with disabilities receive their federally guaranteed free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment, thus promoting inclusive schooling.
Student services advances a diverse, expansive continuum of services and placements essential for both IDEA adherence, and for realizing inclusive schooling. MMSD also offers an array of services to students with disabilities attending private and parochial schools. Special education services are provided in all of our schools so that students may receive the services they need in their home schools. Once a student is evaluated, and determined to have a disability & require special education, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed that describes what services the student will require.
- Assistive Technology
- Case Management
- Deaf & Hard of Hearing
- Early Childhood Special Education
- Extended School Year (ESY)
- Health Services
- Occupational and Physical Therapy
- Program Modifications and Supports
- Psychological Services
- School Social Work
- Specially Designed Instruction
- Speech & Language
- Supplementary Aids and Services
- Transition Services
- Specialized Transport
- Vision Services
Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.
- Federal Definition
Do you want to learn more about assistive technology?
- Common AT Terminology
- Understanding Assistive Technology Basics - AT 101
- Center on Technology and Disability
- Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
- Wisconsin AAC Network
- MMSD's Instructional Technology Resources for general instructional technology resources
For more information about AT in MMSD, please contact:
- Joanne Grassman, Assistant Director of Student Services, AT Coordinator
- Anna Cliff, M.S., OTR/L, AT Specialist and Program Support Teacher for Assistive Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Carly Sandgren, M.S., CCC-SLP, Communication Accessibility Specialist, email@example.com.,us
- Jana Uhler, Literacy Accessibility Specialist (Accessible Educational Materials-Specialized formats/Bookshare), firstname.lastname@example.org
- General Inquiry or AT Questions? email@example.com
Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the Madison Metropolitan School District who meet criteria for Hearing Impairment established in PI 11.36 in the Wisconsin Administrative Code may receive services of a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing directly at a center-based program or indirectly in their home school from an itinerant teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Henderson Elementary, Sennett Middle, and LaFollette High are the Center-based schools in the MMSD. These were established in the mid 1970’s so the staff and students at these schools are familiar with interpreters in the classroom and using sign language.
Center-based schools provide opportunities for:
- Direct communication in a variety of settings, with and instruction by teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing who sign.
- Learning community of students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing that provide communication and interaction with peers that use sign language.
- Educational sign language interpreters support communication access in academic, non-academic, and extracurricular environments.
- Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and reside outside of the attendance areas of Henderson, Sennett, or LaFollette may be placed at these schools through the IEP process to address specific needs in the areas of: communication accessibility, language acquisition, participation, social-emotional development, and academic achievement.
Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing may attend their neighborhood school. These students will have a building-based case manager and DHH disability-related services through their IEP:
- Itinerant teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
- Speech and language therapist to increase communication skills
- Audiologist to repair and perform regular checks on equipment
Employees with the DHH Program at MMSD
- 5 Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- 21 Sign Language Interpreters
- 1.5 Audiologists
- LaFollette offers American Sign Language as a foreign language up to level 4.
- Sennett Middle & Henderson Elementary incorporate signs around the schools, and it is typical for classrooms that have an interpreter in them to teach sign skills to the hearing students.
The Early Childhood Special Education program provides administrative leadership and oversight for all aspects of the District’s Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program, including supervision and evaluation of ECSE staff, Child Find activities, professional development planning for ECSE staff, and the provision of related services. All children deserve a quality childhood so they become joyful, lifelong learners, active contributors to healthy communities, and productive members of society. The goal of the Madison Metropolitan School District Early Childhood Special Education program is to provide comprehensive screening to children ages 3-5, to evaluate children using multiple assessment measures and thus implement quality Special Education services to children who qualify for Special Education in a variety of natural environments, including Preschool Community Childcare Services.
For more information go to the WI DPI website: Early Childhood Special Education
Child Find Screening
Child Find is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires states to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. Child Find is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening and evaluation designed to locate, identify, and refer as early as possible all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of an Early Intervention Program (Part C) or Early Childhood Special Education (Part B) services of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA requires all states to have a "comprehensive Child Find system" to assure that all children who are in need of early intervention or special education services are located, identified, and referred. For more information go to the WI DPI website: Child Find Screening
Each month, MMSD Program Support Teachers and Speech-Language Clinicians are available to screen children ages 3 to 5 and provide parents with information regarding their child’s developmental progress. An Early Childhood Request for Assistance form must be completed to participate in screening and when making a referral for an initial special education evaluation. The Child Find Information Line (608)663-8471 is available for families if they need assistance in completing the Request for Assistance and when making an immediate referral to evaluate their child for Special Education. To request a Child Find Screening or initiate a Special Education referral for your child submit an Early Childhood Request for Assistance.
Special Education Evaluation
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states that all local education agencies (LEA) in Wisconsin must provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) to children age 3 to 21 who have a disability. Children are evaluated to determine if they meet Special Education Eligibility. Early Childhood Special education programs operate under the supervision of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Special education and related service professionals may provide consultation to staff, direct services to the child, training related to the disability, and other services that are identified in the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Early Childhood Regular Education Support Team
The Early Childhood Regular Education support team is designed to provide Early Childhood Care and Education Centers and parents of children ages 3-5 with support, consultation and problem-solving.
The following are three basic types of Requests for Support that would typically be addressed:
- Classroom support and consultation: These may be concerns related to a specific classroom or group of children.
- Centerwide: Several teachers or classrooms at the center may have a similar need for support and consultation.
- Child specific: Staff can request support and consultation about an individual child’s development. A Request for Assistance for a Child Find Screening must be made prior to classroom observations and consultation.
What are some possible outcomes of regular education support?
- Universal screening of all children in a community preschool program.
- Suggestions of possible interventions to be tried by parents and center staff with an individual child or group of children, and subsequent data collected so the effectiveness of these strategies can be determined.
- An in-service presentation or training related to a specific topic that several or most center staff may be interested in may be offered. These may be conducted by MMSD staff or other professionals in the area who are willing to share their expertise with your site.
Questions: Contact Theresa Grueneberg at (608)663-8428 or firstname.lastname@example.org or the Child Find Information Line at (608)663-8471
Extended School Year (ESY) services are services provided during times when schools are otherwise not in session. ESY services are determined on an individual basis and are necessary for providing FAPE to a child (consider whether student progress made during a school year would be significantly jeopardized if student does not receive ESY during the summer) to prevent regression or to help maintain acquisition of a skill during a critical stage of learning.
Health services provide a holistic health perspective related to the physical, mental and social emotional health of students. The School Nurse is responsible for coordinating and managing health needs of individual students during the school day as well as promoting health and safety for all students.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes occupational therapy and physical therapy as related services. Related Services are those necessary to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. Federal and state laws govern the provision of school-based occupational therapy and physical therapy.
Assistant Director Student Services
Program Support - OT/PT
Please see staff directory at your school for OT/PT staff information.
School psychologists serve many roles in the Madison Metropolitan School District. We can be found observing classrooms, working on targeted skills with groups of students, testing in the one-on-one setting, and any number of other functions within a school.
The school social worker is a core member of the school’s integrated pupil services team; this team works collaboratively, in partnership with teachers, administrators, families, and community organizations, to design and deliver a comprehensive, coordinated, and customized system of student supports
Specially designed instruction includes instruction by a special education teacher in any of the core academic areas. Specially designed instruction adapts the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the student.
For more information on what SDI is and who can provide it, see the newly updated DPI page on Specially Designed Instruction, which includes What is SDI and Who Can Provide it?
A speech or language impairment, as per PI 11.36 (5)(a) of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, means "An impairment of speech or sound production, voice, fluency, or language that significantly affects educational performance or social, emotional, or vocational development." A child is identified as having a speech/language impairment if he/she meets Wisconsin state eligibility criteria in one or more areas of oral communication. Speech/language services are provided to those children who are identified as having both a speech/language impairment and a need for special education. In addition, some children receive speech/language services as a related service if the IEP team determines these services are needed in order for the child to benefit from his/her special education program.
Speech and language services in public schools are provided to children ages 3 - 21. In the Madison Metropolitan School District, Speech/Language Pathologists are assigned to provide services to children in each school building. Students at the Early Childhood level (ages 3-4) are provided services on an itinerant basis, with consideration of the child's natural environment e.g. home, pre-school, child care, HeadStart, and 4K school sites. Itinerant services are also provided to those 18-21 year olds identified as having special education needs.
- Jan Chynoweth, Assistant Director Special Education - email@example.com
- Theresa Grueneberg, Administrative Assistant - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lisa Kirby-Mangas, Program Support Teacher - email@example.com
- Renee Ritchie, Program Support Teacher - firstname.lastname@example.org
Can't find what you're looking for? Please e-mail and let us know!
Transition services help students with disabilities and their families think about their life after high school and identify long-range goals designing the high school experience to ensure that students gain the skills and connections they need to achieve these goals.
Some students with disabilities may receive “specialized transportation” as part of either their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan (504 Plan). In order to be eligible for specialized transportation, an IEP team or 504 team must determine that specialized transportation is a service that is required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education or is required to provide equal access to the regular education environment.
The Vision Department will provide opportunities for children and youth who are blind or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, to develop the skills necessary to lead vocationally, personally, socially satisfying, productive and more independent lives through the use of assistive technology, braille, expanded core curriculum, travel skills, etc. so they are community, career and college ready.
Why do we have a Vision program?
The majority of the information transmitted to the brain is through the visual system. When children experience vision loss, it is more difficult to get the same level of information to the brain. The Madison Metropolitan School District employs a team of vision professionals to evaluate students with vision loss, assess their functional vision and recommend instructional accommodations and additional instruction that may help students access their curriculum and environment.
What does the Vision Department do?
The vision staff teach the Expanded Core Curriculum. The ECC is a disability-specific set of skills that compensates for vision loss and is foundational to all other learning. It focuses on independence, assistive technology, vocational training, social engagement and more to prepare your child for his or her fullest life possible.
How? Range of Programming
- Full inclusion in regular education classes with the use of accommodations
- Observations and Consult with staff and family
- Material production/accommodations (e.g. accessible formats)
- Push into classrooms for instruction or support TVI or SEA
- Pull out direct instruction one on one or co-treating with other teachers/therapist
- Homebound instruction for medically fragile students
- WSBVI Placement - Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (K-12) in Janesville, WI
- Little Peanuts Specialized Preschool at WCBVI (3-5)
Who are we?
Itinerant Vision Teachers
Leanette Dieck (Office at Memorial High School)--West
Naomi Hrdina (Office at Lincoln Elementary School)--West/South Central
Kelsey Tiradani (Office at LaFollette High School)--East/Downtown
Jana Uhler (Office at LaFollette High School)--East/West
Orientation and Mobility Teacher
Brynn Guzzetta (Office at LaFollette High School)
Traci McDonald (Office at LaFollette High School)
Vision Assistants (SEAs):
Lori Nieman (Itinerant)
Lori McGowen (Itinerant)
For information on vision services within MMSD, please contact:
- Joanne Grassman, Assistant Director of Student Services
- Chris Jaramillo, DHH and Vision Program Support Teacher
OBVI (Office of Blind and Visually Impaired) (trainings, support)
Vision Forward (trainings, education, camps, Braille Games, store, support etc.) (Milwaukee)
Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired - assessments, on site trainings, support groups, store, scholarships etc. (on Williamson St. in Madison)
Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (located in Janesville)
Wisconsin Center for the Blind and VIsually Impaired- rent equipment weekend and summer camps, assessments, & Short Course information (Janesville)
Lion's Camp (summer camp held in Rosholt, WI for youth and adults usually in August)
Access to Independence (provides advocacy, resources, and services to people of all ages and disabilities in Dane, Columbia, Green, and Dodge counties in South Central Wisconsin)
Blind and Low Vision Products:
Vision Forward Store- Milwaukee (e.g. cooking aids, assistive technology, adapted games, sunglasses)
American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Books, materials, and technology for low vision and blindness
HumanWare (sells blind and low vision technology: braille note takers and portable and stationary electronic magnifiers)
Adaptive Information Systems Inc. (local business that provides assistive technology support and sells devices and software for the blind and visually impaired)
LS&S (specializes in products for the blind, visually impaired, deaf, and hard of hearing, collection of low vision aids, hearing helpers, daily living aids, and information designed to help gain independence)
Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk (customers with disabilities get support with Microsoft Office and Windows to include product issues, accessibility issues, and assistive technology)
Apple Accessibility Support (Official Apple Support web pages; 800-MY–APPLE 800–692–7753)
Students with Multiple Disabilities:
Students with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI):
Free Braille Books
Wisconsin Braille (Free books, where to locate braille materials)
Braille Bug Site (games, info)
Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Free classes to acquire knowledge and skills)
Perkins School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (Education, library, and accessibility resources)
Braille Library and Transcribing Services in Madison
Large Print and Braille:
Helen Keller National Center (online classes, supports, resources, programs etc.)
Wonderbaby (Resources for parents)
AFB Family Connect (Parent support and resources)
Paths to Literacy (Research, resources, strategies, activities)
Parent to Parent of Wisconsin - connecting with other families
Information about eye conditions and diseases : National Eye Institute
- ABLE Accounts (a tax-advantage savings account available for qualifying persons with disabilities)
Orientation and Mobility Resources:
Vision Evaluation Info:
Ocular Report (Needed to determine eligibility for visual impairment)
Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Resources:
Bookshare (free audio and digital braille books)
Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) (free audio and braille books, book player, and book reader app)
Learning Ally (audiobooks-paid subscription)
Parent's consent to bill Medicaid provides millions in additional revenue to school districts by billing Wisconsin Medicaid for medically necessary services provided in school for eligible children.