Dear Families and Parents of Students with Disabilities:
As you are aware beginning March 16, 2020, the Cobb County School District school buildings and offices were closed in accordance with Governor Kemp’s guidance and to prioritize staff and student safety; however, the educational process has continued through remote learning provided by staff to support students including digital and physical (e.g. work packets, textbooks, workbooks) as well as instructional resources for students while they are at home.
Understanding that students who are eligible for special education services with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) have unique needs, the District has maintained a commitment to providing appropriate support to students with disabilities. The Special Education Department has been considering guidance from GADOE and USDOE as it relates to providing instruction and services to students with disabilities. Special Education teachers are working to ensure students’ access to the curriculum comparable to all students based on individual needs. Additionally, although special education services may look different, teachers are considering students’ needs when providing learning opportunities that address their IEP to the most appropriate extent.
As we work to maintain the success of student learning, it is extremely important for families and schools to collaborate and communicate regarding services for students with disabilities. We hope that you and your family remain safe and healthy during this unprecedented event. Moreover, we hope that the transition to remote learning continues to be seamless. As always, our goal is to ensure that students have access to appropriate services and supports. If you have any questions related to Special Education, please feel free to email your child’s case manager or the support and services administrator (SSA) for your child’s school.
Brenda Carter and Jessica Coleman
Director of Special Education and Director of Special Education Compliance
Queridas Familias y Padres de Estudiantes con Discapacidades
Como es de su conocimiento, los edificios y oficinas del Distrito Escolar del Condado de Cobb se cerraron de acuerdo con la orientación del gobernador Kemp para priorizar la seguridad del personal y los estudiantes; sin embargo, el proceso educativo ha continuado a través del aprendizaje a distancia proporcionado por el personal para apoyar a los estudiantes, que incluye materiales en línea y en papel (paquetes de trabajo, libros de textos, libros de trabajos) así como recursos de instrucción para los estudiantes mientras están en casa.
Entendiendo que los estudiantes que son elegibles para los servicios de educación especial con Programas de Educación Individuales (IEP por sus siglas en inglés) tienen necesidades únicas, el distrito ha mantenido el compromiso de proporcionar el apoyo adecuado a los estudiantes con discapacidades. El Departamento de Educación Especial ha estado considerando la orientación de GADOE y USDOE en lo que se refiere a proporcionar instrucción y servicios a los estudiantes con discapacidades. Los maestros de educación especial están trabajando para garantizar que el acceso de los estudiantes al currículo sea comparable a todos los estudiantes según las necesidades individuales. Además, aunque los servicios de educación especial pueden tener un aspecto diferente, los maestros están considerando las necesidades de los estudiantes cuando brindan oportunidades de aprendizaje que abordan su IEP en la medida más adecuada.
Mientras trabajamos para mantener el éxito del aprendizaje de los estudiantes, es muy importante que las familias y las escuelas colaboren y se comuniquen con respecto a los servicios para estudiantes con discapacidades. Esperamos que usted y su familia se mantengan seguros y saludables durante este evento sin precedentes. Además, esperamos que la transición al aprendizaje a distancia continúe sin dificultades. Como siempre, nuestro objetivo es garantizar que los estudiantes tengan acceso a los servicios y el apoyo adecuado. Si tiene alguna pregunta relacionada con la Educación Especial, no dude en enviar un correo electrónico al administrador del caso de su hijo o al administrador de servicios y asistencia (SSA por sus iniciales en inglés) de la escuela de su hijo.
Brenda Carter y Jessica Coleman
Directora de Educación Especial y Directora de Cumplimiento de Educación Especial
Ms. Carter serves as an Assistant Director of Special Education for the Cobb County School District. She has worked in education for 30 years with 20 years of experience in leadership. Ms. Carter was an Assistant Principal at McEachern High School, a Special Education Cluster Supervisor and a Special Education Lead Teacher. She has a vast amount of experience working with students with disabilities that ranges from Pre-K through 12th grade, including all categorical disabilities. Ms. Carter is passionate about her job and how she serves students, teachers, and parents.
Lisa Briley, Assistant Director
770-426-3328 | Email
Lisa Geiger serves as an Assistant Director of Special Education for the Cobb County School District. Mrs. Geiger has worked in the area of Special Education throughout her career. She has worked as a teacher for students with disabilities in a range of classroom settings from Special Needs Preschool through high school. In addition to her role as a classroom teacher for Cobb County Schools, Mrs. Geiger has served as a Special Education Lead Teacher, Education Program Specialist, Cluster Supervisor, and Support and Service Administrator. With a student-centered focus, she is passionate about collaborating with all stakeholders to promote the success for all students.
George Morgan, Assistant Director
770-426-3328 | Email
Mr. Morgan serves as an Assistant Director of Special Education for the Cobb County School District. Mr. Morgan has worked in education for over a decade and has served in a variety of roles within the district. Mr. Morgan began his career as a middle school teacher at Haven Academy and has supported students with a variety of exceptionalities over the course of his career. In addition to serving as a middle school teacher, Mr. Morgan has served as an Administrator at Hillgrove High School, a Special Education Cluster Supervisor and an Education Program Specialist. Mr. Morgan continues to serve as a champion for students with disabilities within the district and is excited about the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity.
Jessica Coleman is the Director of Special Education Compliance. She supports all schools within the District in the IEP process. Jessica has 14 years of experience in the field of education. Her experience includes teaching in a small group classroom and providing support from a District level as an Autism Trainer, Education Program Specialist, Supervisor and now currently as an Assistant Director. Jessica earned a Bachelors degree in Business Administration and Special Education and also has a Masters and Specialists degree in Educational Leadership.
Kelli Cox, Assistant Director
Special Education Compliance
770-426-3417 | Email
Kelli Cox is the Assistant Director of Special Education Compliance. As an educator, she has over 15 years of classroom experience as a teacher for students with disabilities of all ages and grade levels. In addition, she has leadership experience with Cobb County School District at the school level as well as experience in leadership positions in other school systems. As a member of the Support and Services team, she supports teachers and schools in the Cobb County School District in their implementation of Special Education programs. She is passionate about working as a team in order to ensure success of all learners. Her philosophy as an educator follows a quote from Margaret Mead, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
Below you will find a link to the IDEA Parent Survey. This survey is very important for the District, parents and students. The IDEA Parent Survey helps the state determine parent perceptions of the successes of parent engagement between the local school and themselves. The IDEA Parent Survey will be open from January 15, 2020 – May 31, 2020. The information is gathered as a component of the State Performance Plan, Indicator 8: Percent of parents with a student receiving special education services who report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving results for children with disabilities. The data collected is reported in the Annual Performance Report and on the system profile about each system. Each state is required to conduct a parent survey collection process to measure parent/family needs and perceptions.
Georgia’s parent survey is available to all families of students with disabilities. The survey will be administered through an online link and can be found on the websites listed below.
Direct link to the parent survey: www.gadoe.org/Parent-Survey
Websites: GaDOE http://www.gadoe.org/ci_exceptional.aspx or
- Problems with the online survey: Submit a firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-869-1011.
- Questions about the Parent Survey: Contact Anne Ladd at email@example.com or Sharon Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Families want to answer the survey by phone: Contact the Special Education Help Desk at 404-657-9968.
- Questions about Parent Survey Dashboard data: Contact Linda Castellanos at email@example.com.
The District will use the survey results to help plan for the future of Special Education. Your survey responses are confidential and will be combined with the survey responses of other parents at your child’s school to identify areas in need of improvement. It should only take ten or fifteen minutes to complete the survey. Thank you for your time and participation to complete this survey. Your input is very important to the district.
Welcome to Cobb County Special Education
Welcome to the Cobb County School District Special Education website. It is our hope, on this page, you will find the information you are looking for concerning students with disabilities. If you are a parent of a student with a disability, please see the link below to our Parent Mentors’ page for additional information and resources.
Please use these helpful FAQs to find the information you are looking for:
If you have questions regarding your student’s special education transportation, Click HERE to access the special education transportation website.
A Facilitated IEP Team Meeting is the same as any other IEP team meeting, except that a facilitator from the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) joins the meeting. The facilitator helps with communication among team members, and does not make decisions about the student’s IEP. The goal of a Facilitated IEP Team Meeting is to develop an IEP that is supported by team members and benefits the student.
In a facilitated IEP Team meeting:
- Families and schools agree to have a facilitator join an IEP Team meeting.
- Facilitators maintain open communication and ensure that everyone at the IEP Team meeting can participate fully.
- If disagreements arise during the meeting, a facilitator can help the Team clarify and resolve them.
- The facilitator typically does not address issues that are not related to the student’s IEP.
Who can request a Facilitated IEP Team Meeting?
- Any parent whose child is in a Georgia school district participating in the GaDOE’s FIEP Team Meeting program, which includes the Cobb County School District
How do I request a FIEP?
- Submit a completed request form to the GaDOE
- For a request form, CLICK HERE
Why would I request a FIEP?
- To have a trained facilitator from the Georgia DOE create an environment in which the IEP Team members can listen to each others’ point of view and work together to create a quality, student-focused IEP
Click below for additional information pertaining to the Facilitated IEP Team Meeting process.
What are the high schools graduation requirements for students with significant cognitive disabilities?
Special Education Records Room
514 Glover Street Marietta, Georgia 30060
Special Education Records Clerk
770-426-3599 | Email
Special Education Records Clerk
770-514-3874 | Email
Nakia is an educator that values diverse learners and their unique needs. She has been in education for over 20 years, where she has served as a teacher as well as a school and district administrator. Nakia is passionate about providing services for students with special needs under special education and Section 504. As the Coordinator for Support and Services for the district, she brings a unique perspective on Section 504, Homebased Instruction and Special Education Compliance procedures which can be used to enhance student learning. She attended Florida A&M University where she obtained her Bachelors in Elementary Education and Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Nakia has her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Clark Atlanta University.
A Section 504 Plan is an educational plan describing what accommodations or related aids and services will be provided to meet the individual educational needs of the eligible student as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met.
Students eligible under Section 504 may require a documented plan. “Appropriate Education” means comparable to the one provided to general education students. If the 504 Team determines that a plan is required then Section 504 requires that reasonable
accommodations be made for the child with a disability. Section 504 requires that the school provide reasonable accommodations, supports and auxiliary aides for the student. The school will also afford the opportunity to access the same as non-disabled peers allow the child to participate in the general curriculum.
Services under Section 504 require schools to eliminate barriers that would prevent the student from participating fully in the programs and services offered in the general curriculum.
The local school will evaluate a student to determine eligibility based on a parent referral or under child find.
The evaluation information needed is determined by the multi-disciplinary committee gathered to evaluate the student. The committee should include persons knowledgeable about the student, and should review the evaluation data to determine if they have enough information to make a knowledgeable decision as to whether or not the student has a disability. The Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.35(c) requires that school districts draw from a variety of sources in the evaluation process so that the possibility of error is minimized.
The determination of substantial limitation must be made on a case-by-case basis with respect to each individual student.
An impairment in and of itself is not a disability. The impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities in order to be considered a disability under Section 504. A physician’s medical diagnosis may be considered among other sources in evaluating a student with an impairment or believed to have an impairment which substantially limits a major life activity. Other sources to be considered, along with the medical diagnosis, include aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, and adaptive behavior.
The 504 Coordinator varies at each school. It may be the Assistant Principal or the Professional School Counselor at the school. Please contact your school directly to identify the 504 Coordinator.
Dr. Bobbie Ealy has taught students with disabilities for over 25 years. She has experience in the classroom from Pre-K through 12th grade. She is passionate about providing access to the educational environment for students with hearing loss, vision loss, orthopedic impairments, and adaptive physical education needs. Dr. Ealy has also worked in early intervention and at the post-secondary level. She is currently the Supervisor for Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Vision Impaired, Orthopedically Impaired, Adaptive PE and Hospital-Homebound Medically Related services.
Dr. Steven Benson is the Special Education Supervisor who supports the Autism Program. He has 10 years’ experience as a teacher for students with special needs, 6 years as an Autism Trainer, and 5 years of leadership experience in the district. His certifications are in Educational Leadership, Special Education Adapted Curriculum, Special Education Behavior Disorders, Special Education General Curriculum, Special Education Physical and Health Disabilities, Special Education Learning Disabilities, Math/Science/Social Studies and Language Arts Cognitive Level P-12.
Stephanie Smith is the Special Education Supervisor that supports the Emotional Behavioral Disorder program. She has served as an educator in the classroom for 14 years. She has also supported the behavioral needs for students throughout the district as a behavior trainer. Stephanie Smith is dedicated to supporting teachers in meeting the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students.
Special Education Nursing:
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes a provision for nursing services to students, with a recognized disability or disorder, to access and benefit from their special education program. Potential access to special education nursing begins with the assessment process that is initiated by the IEP team.
- The determination for nursing services must be addressed through the IEP team after a nursing assessment.
- The Special Education nurse consults with and provides training for students, parents, teachers and staff concerning various medical conditions and delegated medical procedures. The special education nurse develops individualized healthcare plans and provides treatment as ordered by a physician. Special education nursing services are identified and documented in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) include a provision for educationally relevant Occupational Therapy to assist students, with a recognized disability or disorder, to access and benefit from their special education program. Services are intended to support a student in achieving Individual Education Plan (IEP) based objectives and are not for medical or rehabilitative reasons. An educational need for therapy services must be identified through the IEP team and evaluation process. Students with a 504 Plan may also receive accommodative services of Occupational Therapy in order to create equal access to the general education curriculum and environment.
- Occupational Therapy in the educational environment focuses on functional outcomes and includes various intervention strategies and supports. Some of these are implemented by other school personnel with the collaboration of the school-based therapist.
- Potential access to Occupational Therapy begins with the evaluation process that is initiated by the IEP team, 504 Plan team, Response to Intervention team, or parent, when an educationally related concern is identified and documented in an IEP meeting, 504 meeting, Response to Intervention meeting, or Direct Parent Referral meeting. The parent or legal guardian of the student will be asked to sign a Consent to Evaluate to start the process.
- Occupational Therapy services in the school setting are educational in nature and are designed to support the child in their role of being a student. Areas for possible intervention include motor skills, self-care skills, adaptive skills, and social-emotional regulation. The occupational therapist may use a variety of approaches such as creating activities to promote learning, modifying activities or environments to improve access, and collaborating with and educating school staff, students, and parents.
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes a provision for educationally relevant Physical Therapy to assist students, with a recognized disability or disorder, to access and benefit from their special education program. Services are intended to support a student in achieving Individual Education Plan (IEP) based objectives and are not for medical or rehabilitative reasons. An educational need for therapy services must be identified through the IEP team and evaluation process. Students with a 504 Plan may also receive accommodative services of Physical Therapy in order to create equal access to the general education curriculum and environment.
- Physical Therapy in the educational environment focuses on functional outcomes and includes various intervention strategies and supports. Some of these are implemented by other school personnel with the collaboration of the school-based therapist.
- Potential access to Physical Therapy begins with the evaluation process that is initiated by the IEP team, 504 Plan team, Response to Intervention team, or parent, when an educationally related concern is identified and documented in an IEP meeting, 504 meeting, Response to Intervention meeting, or Direct Parent Referral meeting. The parent or legal guardian of the student will be asked to sign a Consent to Evaluate to start the process.
- Physical Therapy services in the school setting are educational in nature and are designed to support the student in physically accessing the school environment. Physical therapists require a prescription from a physician in order for services to be provided. The school-based physical therapist primarily focuses on supporting environmental access, functional mobility, motor skills training, monitoring and maintenance of therapeutic equipment, and collaboration and training of school staff, students, and parents.
Cobb’s Special Education Parent Mentors enhance communication between parents and educators, ultimately leading to greater success for students with disabilities. The goal of the Parent Mentors is to help parents understand their role in their children’s education and to provide guidance and resources to help them navigate the Special Education process.
As parents of students with disabilities, Cobb’s Special Education Parent Mentors provide resources to families of children with special needs while helping them navigate Special Education. As mentors, they are part of the broader Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership, whose mission is: “Building collaboration and communication between families and educators ultimately leads to greater success for children with disabilities.”
Our Parent Mentors are Stacy Greene and Antoinette Nichols. To find out more information about our Parent Mentors, click above to visit their website.
Early Childhood Special Education Identification and Services
Cobb County School District’s Special Needs Preschool (SNP) program provides specialized instruction and related services to all children ages 3 through 5, who qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA, Part B, Section 619). The SNP program ensures the provision of a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment to all children who are found eligible. Services are based on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) which is developed in collaboration with SNP staff members and the parents of each child eligible for early childhood special education services. The SNP program provides a continuum of special education instructional services to eligible children. Speech-language therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy may also be available to eligible preschoolers as recommended in the IEP.
Referral and Evaluation
The SNP program provides referred preschoolers with comprehensive evaluations in the areas of communication, cognitive, social-emotional, motor and adaptive skills. These evaluations are provided by a team of professionals which may include psychologists, educational diagnosticians and therapists. Children may be referred for an evaluation by parents, physicians and community agencies.
Early Childhood Special Education Services
Preschoolers who qualify for special education services may be served through the community based, facility-based or home-based models or unique combinations of the three models.
The community-based option provides specialized instructional activities to children in community preschool and daycare settings, dependent on the child’s specific needs, as outlined by the IEP team. Services generally consist of direct teaching from a Special Education teacher through a combination of individual and group activities, as well as consultation with community professionals. Cobb County School District (CCSD) SNP teachers collaborate with parents, caregivers, and community professionals to incorporate skill-building strategies into the child’s daily activities.
Facility-based services provide instruction in classroom settings located in many elementary schools within the CCSD. The curriculum is language rich and emphasizes skill development in the areas of communication and early literacy, social development, self-help, cognition and other skills as designated in each student’s IEP. Facility-based services are provided by a Special Education teacher with paraprofessional support. Integrated therapy services are provided.
Home-based services may be deemed appropriate when the fragility of a child’s health would prohibit the child’s participation in another service delivery option or when home-based services are the recommended service delivery for the child.
Dr. Kathy Arnold Johnson has worked in education for 27 years. She has taught general education, special education, and various adult education classes. Dr. Arnold Johnson has presented workshops and trainings on specialized instruction at the local district, university, state and national levels. Dr. Arnold Johnson is currently a supervisor of Specialized Teaching and Learning and Assistive Technology in Cobb County School District.
Janice is a lifelong learner and speech-language pathologist who is passionate about providing high quality speech and language services to students who have speech and language disorders. As speech-language pathologist she has been practicing for over 25 years. Additionally, as the program supervisor for speech pathology and educational diagnosticians, she is excited about providing top quality evaluations and services to students of the Cobb County School District.
Helen was previously the Coordinator for Assistive Technology in the Special Education Department for 10 years. Prior to accepting her current leadership role, Helen served the Cobb County School District as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Helen is committed to collaborating with leaders, teachers, staff, parents and students in our goal to support student success. She is passionate and contagious with her belief that ALL students can be independent, lifelong learners when provided with the right tools for their tool belt. During her 28 years serving in the CCSD, she has facilitated many professional learning sessions at the local and state level on the use of assistive technology in the classroom.
Kristin Pewitt is the Transition Coordinator for the Cobb County School District. She coordinates the Transition Services Programs for students with disabilities who are 18-22 years old. Kristin also works with the Transition Services staff that support classroom teachers, students, and families. She has 10 years of classroom experience as a teacher for students with disabilities and an additional 10 years of experience working with students with disabilities who are transitioning from school to the post-secondary world. Ms. Pewitt is dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities achieve their post-secondary goals and become valued members of the community.
The Transition Academy and the SETS program are Transition Services programs for students who are at least 18 years old, have participated in GAA, and have completed the academic and graduation requirements for graduation. Students must apply to participate in either program.