Special Education

Are you worried about your child's development?
For developmental concerns from Birth to Five years of age visit the SPARC website.
¿Está preocupado por el desarrollo de su hijo? Haga clic aquí para mas información.

Special Education Programs

Special education is not a specific program or place. Children with disabilities (birth to age 21) have a wide range of services/programs available based on their unique need(s). In compliance with federal and state law, students with disabilities are served in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent possible. Special education services are delivered in regular classrooms, in self-contained and resource room settings, on Conway campus, or at another educational location. Services are available including speech/language therapy, occupational and physical therapy, psychological assessment, and home-based instruction.

All special education students participate, as appropriate, in general education classrooms and receive core academic instruction by highly qualified general education teachers. Some special education program offerings in the district are very restrictive and these placements, while appropriate for some students, must be weighed carefully and viewed critically by an informed Individual Education Plan (IEP) team, which includes a student's parent(s). All placement decisions are formally reviewed and revised at the annual IEP meeting.

Staff Contacts:

Special Education & 504 Coordinator, Teacher: Mandy Lewis 
Preschool Coordinator (CELP):  Jennifer Thramer
School Psychologist: Jennifer Moyer
Speech/Language:  Lauren Mitchel
Occupational Therapy: Kristi Billgren
Physical Therapy: Laura Torseth
School Counselor:  Sallie Miller

Parent Procedural Safeguards

Special Education Criteria

We provide a wide spectrum of service options for the students we serve. Special education provides supplemental services to students with special needs who meet three criteria:

  • The student has a substantiated disability. This determination involves an evaluation process by a school-based team that also includes the parents. Thirteen categories are currently identified in special education:

    • Autism
    • Deaf/blind
    • Developmental delay
    • Emotional behavior disability
    • Health impairment (including deafness)
    • Hearing impairment
    • Intellectual disability
    • Multiple disabilities
    • Orthopedic impairment
    • Specific learning disability
    • Speech or language impairment
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Visual impairment (including blindness)
  • The disability adversely affects educational performance; and,
  • The adverse effects of the disability cannot be addressed exclusively through general education classes, with or without individual accommodations. (There are some students with disabilities whose needs can be addressed through accommodations within general education. These children do not qualify for special education. Instead, an individual accommodation plan is developed for each such student. These plans are known as 504 plans and are required of all school districts under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.)

Once a student is identified as eligible for special education services, the school district provides a free and appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet his or her unique needs.

Special Education Process

Disability Categories

Does my child have a disability?

Some children need extra assistance in their school career, and this need may be the result of a disability. Not all students who have disabilities need or qualify for special education services. Students qualifying as disabled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEIA) require "specially designed instruction" which is designed and monitored by a certificated special education staff member. Some students with disabilities do not require specially designed instruction, but do require formalized accommodations in order to access their education (see Section 504).

I suspect my child has a learning disability. What should I do?

If you suspect that your child has a learning disability of any kind, you should contact his/her teacher, school psychologist, counselor, or doctor for further information to determine whether the school can address the child's needs through the pre-referral (problem solving) intervention process.

Pre-Referral Intervention

Conway School has a student support/intervention process to support the success of students in general education classrooms. One of the main purposes of this team is to identify and attempt interventions in general education classrooms to support student access to the general education curriculum and activities, and achievement of district standards. Only after general education resources have been exhausted is a student from these teams to be referred for a special education evaluation.

When a team refers a student, they are saying that they suspect the student has a disability and needs specially designed instruction. The intent of this pre-referral process is to ensure the team has afforded the student all appropriate interventions appropriate to the general education setting, and to prevent the inappropriate referral of students to special education.


What is a referral?

A referral is a request for evaluation to determine if your child has a disability and may be eligible for special education services. When a referral is made, a specific timeline and process is followed.

Who can make a referral?

Anyone who is involved with the child may make a referral when there is a suspected disability. A referral is usually made by the parent, teacher, school psychologist, counselor or doctor.

Once my child is referred, will my child then be evaluated?

District staff and parents will study existing information and school records, and may talk with others who know the student, including teachers, family, and health care providers. Input about the student at school, at home, and at play creates a more complete picture of the student's strengths and needs. Within 25 school days, the district must determine whether the student should be evaluated for eligibility for special education services. After studying this information within the time limit, the district sends the parent written notice of whether or not an evaluation is needed. If the district recommends an evaluation of the student, the district must get the parent's written consent before the evaluation begins.

Initial Evaluation

Before a student receives an initial evaluation to determine special education services, the parent must be provided with a "Prior Written Notice" and a copy of "Notice of Special Education Procedural Safeguards". The parent must also give informed, written consent to evaluate the student. The "Prior Written Notice"explains the actions to be taken and will contain:

  • A description of what the school proposes or refuses to do;
  • An explanation of why the school has made this decision;
  • A description of other options that were considered in making the decision, and the reasons why those options were rejected;
  • A description of each evaluation procedure, test, record, or report that was used as a basis for the action to be taken;
  • A description of other factors considered in deciding on an action.

The "Notice of Special Education Procedural Safeguards" is a complete explanation of parents' rights and protections for children who receive special education services. This notice must be provided to the parent(s) upon:

  • Initial referral for evaluation
  • Each notification of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting
  • Reevaluation of the child
  • Registration of a due process complaint
  • Intent to revoke special education services

Parental Consent

It is the responsibility of the school to obtain informed, written parental consent before conducting the initial evaluation. The school will inform the parent of all types of testing instruments to be used. Parental consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. If a parent revokes consent, it is not retroactive, and does not negate any action that occurred after the consent was given and before the consent was revoked. If a parent refuses to provide consent, then a school may consider using mediation or due process as an avenue to pursue the evaluation of the student.

Once written consent is provided, the school must complete the evaluation and meet to determine eligibility within 35 school days, or such other time period as agreed upon by the parent and the school district.

Determining Eligibility for Special Education Services

Who's on the Team?

The evaluation team is made up of educational specialists with knowledge in the area of the child's suspected disability, and includes the parent. These team members include:

  • At least one of the child's general education teachers,
  • At least one special education teacher,
  • An individual to interpret the instructional implications of the evaluation results,
  • The child's parent(s), and
  • At the discretion of the school or parent, other persons with knowledge or special expertise about the child.

What does the team do?

Based upon the results of the evaluation, the evaluation team must determine if the child has one or more disabilities.

As a result of having one or more disabilities, the evaluation team must determine that the child requires specially designed instruction in order to benefit from the educational program. A child may NOT be determined to be in need of specially designed instruction (Special Education) if the greatest factor is lack of instruction in reading, math or limited English proficiency. Eligibility is determined by:

  1. The presence of a disability,
  2. Adverse educational impact, and
  3. The need for specially designed instruction.

The Evaluation Report

The evaluation report must include, but is not limited to:

  • A review of current evaluations, including types of tests and the results of those tests.
  • Information provided by the parents, including medical and developmental information and history;
  • Educational history, including the reason for referral, current classroom based assessments and observations by teachers and related service providers;
  • Determination of whether the child's educational problems are related to or resulting primarily from reasons of educational disadvantage;
  • Documentation that the child was assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability including behavior, assistive technology and current vision and hearing status;
  • A comprehensive developmental assessment (for preschool child);
  • A determination of whether the child has a category of disability (as defined by state law)
  • The child's present level of academic performance and current educational needs;
  • A determination of whether the child needs special education and related services;
  • A determination of whether any additions or modifications are needed to allow the child to progress in the general education curriculum, and;
  • Team findings on eligibility determination.

Information for the Parent

The school will provide the following documents to the parent:

  • Copy of the evaluation report, which will include documentation of the eligibility determination.
  • Prior Written Notice that will document the decisions made by the team.
  • Notice of Special Education Procedural Safeguards

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

Once a student has been determined to be eligible for services, the IEP team, writes an education plan. The student's parent(s) are an important members of this team. This plan contains, at a minimum, a statement of the students present levels of performance, annual goals and short-term objectives, statement of related services or supplementary aids and services, an explanation to the extent the student will and will not participate with typically developing peers, projected dates for beginning services, the location of those services, and how the student's progress will be measured and reported to parents. The IEP is the framework for ensuring that students with disabilities have a free, appropriate public education. The IEP team includes:

  • The parent(s) of the student;
  • At least one general education teacher (or preschool education provider) if the student is or may be participating in the general education environment;
  • At least one special education teacher of the student
  • A district representative who is qualified to provide or supervise specially designed instruction; is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and is knowledgeable about the availability of district resources.
  • An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results;
  • Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student including related services personnel as appropriate and at the discretion of the parent or school district/public agency,
  • The student (if appropriate);

Participants can serve in more than one capacity.


Services outlined in the IEP may occur in several different environments for students, however, students with disabilities are to be educated in the least restrictive environment. This means that students with disabilities should be educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent that they are allowed by their disability while still receiving meaningful educational benefit. The least restrictive environment requirement does not mandate inclusion or mainstreaming but rather focuses on participation in the general education environment with general education peers.

Conway School Follows all Federal IDEA and Washington State Guidelines, Policies and Procedures.  Those can be found at the following locations:

OSPI - Special Education
U.S. Dept. of Education - Special Education


Special Education Records which have been collected by the Conway School District related to
the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of Special Education in the
district, must be maintained under state and federal law for the period of six (6) years after
special education services have ended for the student. Special education services end for a
student when he/she no longer is eligible for services, graduates, completes his/her educational
program at age 22 or moved from the district. After six (6) years, the records are no longer useful
to the District, but may be useful to the parent(s)/guardian(s) or former student is applying for
social security benefits, rehabilitation services, college entrance, etc.
This notification is to inform parents/guardians and former students of the district's intent to
destroy the Special Education records of students whose special education services ended prior
to August 1, 2017. These records will be destroyed in accordance with state law unless the
parent/guardian or eligible student (adult) notified the school district otherwise.
The parent(s)/guardian(s) or eligible (adult) student may request a copy of the records in writing
or in person prior to October 1, 2023, at the following address:

Conway School District Office
19710 State Route 534
Mount Vernon, WA 98274

Please note that records will not be mailed but must be picked up in person. To ensure
confidentiality, persons receiving the records will be required to present identification and sign a
document indicating receipt of the records.

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