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Click here to access the A to Z Special Education Operating Guidelines! 

Welcome to the Special Education Home Page! 

Here you will find recent communication from Special Programs Leadership and general information about Special Education.  Use the tabs below to find out information about Special Education in DISD. 

What's New in Special Education for the 2023-24 School Year?

There are many changes in Dickinson ISD as we open a new junior high campus and change grade bands on all of our pre-K-8 campuses and we have some changes in special education as well. We would like to take this opportunity to share some exciting developments regarding our special education programs. This section is organized into tabs answering the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions.

What changes did we make? We have eliminated the acronym names for our special education programs.

Individualized Education Plans (IEP) Focus: In line with our mission to personalize education, we are placing a greater emphasis on developing and implementing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Our team of dedicated special education teachers and staff will work closely with you and your child to create a tailored IEP that addresses their specific strengths and challenges, ensuring they receive the appropriate support and accommodations to reach their full potential.


Our new framework includes the following components:

  1. ECSE - Early Childhood Special Education - (ages 3-5) These services are provided to enable students to learn school ready skills. We have a range of instructional delivery options, including half-day programming for students who are 3 years old and a full day program that mirrors the pre-k full day program for children who turn 4 years old on or before 9/1. Level of support (LOS) is determined by the data from ECI, the FIE, and parent input with a focus on school ready skills.  Previously called PPCD, SEAS, SANDS.
  2. ICS -In Class Support (PK-12th grade) - These services are provided by special education staff in the general education setting. Special education staff can provide both external supports (provided materials, creating supplemental aids or other tools for the student to use in class) or by going into the class to provide support. Based on level of need determined by the ARD committee.  Level of support (LOS) is determined by data with an academic focus on instructional skills.  Previously called inclusion.
  3. BTC -Behavior Teaching Continuum (PK-12th grade) These services are provided by the Behavior Team to address BIP needs through coaching, social skills, and pull-out support based on level of need determined by the ARD committee.  Level of support (LOS) is determined by data with a behavioral focus on prosocial skills.  Previously BLP, ABCD.
  4. P/O -Pull Out Services (3 years -18+ years) These services are provided in a special education setting - students are pulled out of general education, for specific targeted instruction that could include one or more of the following: dyslexia, reading, writing, math, related services, modified, alternative or life skills based on level of need determined by the ARD committee.  Level of support (LOS) is determined by data with an academic and/or functional focus on targeted and/or prerequisite skills.   Previously RISE, SAILS, WAVE, TIDES, SEALS
  5. Medical/Fragile -Centralized Support (3 years -18+ years) - These services are provided in a specialized self-contained setting located at certain campuses centralized within the district.  The class has a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to support medical and/or fragile needs for alternative and life skills based on level of need determined by the ARD committee.  Level of support (LOS) is determined by data with a focus on alternative academics, assisted life skills, and self-care. Previously TIDES


Each component has a level of support associated with it that is determined by reviewing the data and in discussion with the ARD committee.


What is staying the same?


The names are changing but the full continuum of services for students receiving special education will remain the same. The changes we are implementing are aimed at enhancing the overall educational experience for all students, including those enrolled in our special education programs. We believe in providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment that also takes into account the diverse needs of each individual.


Every student who receives special education services will still have an IEP.  Our team of dedicated special education teachers and staff will continue to develop and implement Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for every student requiring specialized support. These IEPs will be tailored to meet your child's unique strengths and challenges, ensuring they receive the necessary and appropriate accommodations and interventions to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.


Inclusion!  We are proud of our inclusive classroom practices, which will continue to foster a sense of belonging for all students. In these classrooms, each child's abilities and contributions are valued and celebrated. Our teachers will continue to receive ongoing training to ensure they are equipped to create an inclusive and engaging learning environment. 


Request for Parent Support!  We value your input and encourage you to be active participants in your child's education. Regular parent-teacher communication is expected to keep you informed about your child's progress and any changes in the curriculum or support services. We are also committed to maintaining open and effective communication with parents and guardians.


Our goal is to create an educational community where every student can reach their full potential. By keeping the continuum of services intact while introducing improvements to our special education programs, we are working towards providing an even more enriching experience for your child.


As we implement changes to our special education programs in Dickinson ISD, we want to provide you with a clear understanding of who these changes will affect. The modifications to our services are designed to impact the following individuals:

  1. Students with Disabilities: The primary beneficiaries of these changes are students with disabilities who are currently enrolled or eligible for special education services. These changes aim to provide an improved and more inclusive educational experience tailored to their unique learning needs.
  2. Non-Disabled Peers: Inclusive practices in our classrooms benefit not only students with disabilities but also their non-disabled peers. By fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment, all students have the opportunity to develop empathy, understanding, and appreciation for individual differences.
  3. Parents and Guardians: As a crucial partner in your child's education, these changes will directly affect parents and guardians. You will be actively involved in the process, collaborating with teachers and school staff to develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and support your child's progress.
  4. Teachers and Support Staff: Our dedicated special education teachers and support staff will be impacted by these changes as they adapt their instructional methods and services to align with the new initiatives. Professional development and training will empower them to better cater to each student's needs.
  5. Administrators and School Leadership: School administrators and leadership teams will oversee the implementation of these changes, ensuring that they are effectively executed, and provide necessary resources and support to teachers and staff.
  6. School Community: The changes in our special education programs will influence the entire school community, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment where every student feels valued and encouraged to succeed.

We are committed to ensuring a smooth and successful transition for all individuals affected by these changes. Our goal is to create a positive and nurturing educational experience that benefits each student and strengthens our school community as a whole. 


If you have any questions or concerns about how these changes will impact your child or any other aspect of our special education programs, please feel free to reach out to us. Your child's campus compliance facilitator can answer many of your questions and you can also email Kim Davidson, Laura Batson or Laurie Rodriguez. We value your input and partnership as we work together to provide the best possible education for every student.



What was our process?  Research. Collaborate. Train. Communicate & Commit to Continuous Improvement.



The first phase of the process involved conducting research on best practices in special education and the latest advancements in the field. We sought insights from educational research, evidence-based interventions, and studies focused on inclusive classroom practices. We conducted a thorough review of our special education continuum of services, which included gathering input from teachers, parents and administrators. We reviewed our performance data on state and local assessments. We reviewed the Special Education Texas Legal Framework.


This research was essential in understanding the diverse needs of students with disabilities and identifying effective strategies to support their academic and social-emotional development. As part of our annual needs assessment process, we sought to identify areas of improvement within our current special education programs. This assessment helped us pinpoint specific challenges and opportunities for growth, guiding us in tailoring the changes to meet the unique needs of our students.



We met with our Special Programs Parent Advisory Committee.   We had conversations with students, parents and teachers during ARD committee meetings.  We also considered the best ways to communicate our efforts to the Texas Education Agency during our upcoming cyclical review. We reached out to other districts to gather information about their instructional and service delivery models. By engaging various stakeholders, we considered multiple perspectives to ensure that the changes reflected our vision and mission and the needs and aspirations of our school community.



To effectively implement the changes, we recognized the importance of providing professional development opportunities for our educators and support staff.  Our SDI (Specially Designed Instruction) team, led by Kim Davidson, provided professional development sessions throughout the year and this summer and they are committed to continuing this focus for the coming year.  Workshops, seminars, and training sessions were organized to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality services. The professional development focused on topics such as inclusive classroom practices, differentiated instruction, behavior management strategies, and individualized support


Communicate & Commit to Continuous Improvement: 

To effectively implement the changes, we recognized the importance of providing professional development oppor All campus administrators have received training in the new model. The change process is ongoing, and we are committed to continuous improvement. We will continuously assess the effectiveness of the changes, seek feedback from stakeholders, and make necessary adjustments to ensure that our special education programs reflect our values of creating confident learners and change makers!


Through research, collaboration, and professional development, we have created a strong foundation for our improved special education programs. These changes aim to foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment where every student can thrive and reach their full potential.

The full continuum of in class support (ICS), behavior training continuum (BTC) and pull-out (P/O) services are available on all campuses. Each student's ARD committee makes the determination of the student's least restrictive environment for his/her learning needs.


The 18+ transition program is housed at McAdams Junior High.


The centralized medical/fragile unit locations:

  • PK-3rd is located at Calder Road Elementary
  • Middle school is at Dunbar Middle School.
  • Junior high: Dickinson Junior High
  • High School:  Dickinson High School

These changes are effective beginning with the start of 2023-24 school year in August. 

The implementation actually began last year as we carefully planned the process to ensure a smooth and successful transition for all adults and staff so that they are ready to welcome your child.  Multiple training sessions and individual campus meetings have already taken place.  Special Programs staff will be visiting classrooms on a continuous basis throughout the school year.

We are eager to get the school year started and we appreciate your feedback, questions, and ongoing support as we work together to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment. Your child's campus compliance facilitator can answer many of your questions and you can also email Kim Davidson, Laura Batson or Laurie Rodriguez.

Why did we make these changes?  We want to clearly communicate the DISD Continuum of Special Education Services and Support.

Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."  We know that the continuum of special education services is a vital framework that ensures students with disabilities receive tailored support to meet their unique needs. It is our job to effectively communicate those services to parents, teachers and other service providers.

DISD has a 25+ years history of using an acronym to designate a specific program or set of services, e.g. WAVE at the high school, which stood for Woven Academics and Vocational Education.  The problem is, no one could really remember what the acronym stood for, and there was a temptation to make the “student fit the program” rather than design services to meet the needs of the students. During initial or transfer ARD meetings, parents would question the meanings behind the acronyms.  Other school districts would continually call us and ask what the acronyms meant. 


Therefore, we focused on three key goals of 1) addressing diverse needs, 2) personalizing education and 3) creating an inclusive environment.

Addressing Diverse Needs: One of the primary motivations for the changes in our special education programs is to address the diverse needs of our student population. We recognize that each student is unique, with varying strengths and challenges. The new changes aim to provide a more individualized approach, offering support services that cater to specific learning styles, abilities, and disabilities.

Personalizing Education: Our commitment to personalized education guides these changes. We firmly believe that tailoring instruction to each student's needs can significantly improve their academic progress and overall well-being. By offering a continuum of services, we can create a learning environment where every student receives the appropriate level of support required to succeed.

Creating an Inclusive Environment: Inclusion lies at the heart of our educational philosophy - “Inclusive of all” is the first phrase in our District’s vision statement. We want every student to feel welcomed and valued within our school community. The changes in our special education services seek to promote inclusive classroom practices, encouraging the participation and collaboration of students with disabilities alongside their non-disabled peers.

The changes in our special education programs have been driven by a strong commitment to meeting the unique needs of all students. By enhancing the continuum of services, personalizing education, promoting inclusion, and fostering parental involvement, we aim to create an educational environment where every student can reach their full potential. We believe that these improvements will contribute significantly to the success and well-being of all students in our school community.

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In accordance with federal and state laws, DISD provides special education to students who are evaluated with a full, individual evaluation (FIE) and determined by an Admissions, Review and Dismissal (ARD) committee to meet the Texas Education Agency (TEA) eligibility criteria as having a disability condition and to need specialized instruction to receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the student’s least restrictive environment (LRE).

Entry into special education: 

There are three primary ways a student is determined eligible for special education:
1. Child Find Process
  • ECI  transition (also known as Project Launch)
  • We have a monthly child find  intake process that is conducted by the DISD Child Find Assessment Team (Contact Kathy Linkey to scheduled your child.)
  • If your child is ages 3-6 and not currently enrolled in public school, CLICK HERE to complete the child find form.
  • If your child is already enrolled in one of our DISD schools, CLICK HERE to complete the parent inquiry form.
  • Private School Referral process - contact Maggie Burk for additional information. 



2. Campus RtI Referral Team
  • Each campus has an  RtI committee which can refer a student for a full, individual evaluation (FIE) which is conducted by a multi-disciplinary team led by either a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), a School Psychologist or an Educational Diagnostician.
  • Upon completion of the FIE, the student’s ARD committee will meet to review the evaluation, determine eligibility for services, and, if eligible, plan the students individualized education plan (IEP). (Contact your campus counselor)
3. Transfer from another district 
  • Students who are eligible for special education in another Texas district or from another state are entitled to immediate special education services upon enrollment in DISD. 
  • The parent should bring a copy of the most recent ARD or IEP paperwork to the campus ARDC facilitator.  If the parent is able to provide sufficient information, or the facilitator is able to obtain enough information from the sending district, then DISD attempts to match services as closely as possible. 
  • Otherwise, a “transfer” (or temporary) ARD is held and services are implemented pending receipt of full records. 
  • Within 30 school days of the initial verification or transfer ARD, the student’s ARD committee will meet to do a full ARD to finalize evaluation, goals, objectives, services and placement. (Contact your campus ARDCF)

Special Education is a system of specially designed instruction that includes both educational and related services for students who have been identified as having a disability and needing specially designed instruction. 


In Dickinson, we have a wide range of instructional supports ranging from in-class support, dyslexia instruction, and pull-out . self-contained classes (for highly supported academic instruction, life and functional skills, and behavioral instruction).  We also offer a variety of related services, such as occupational and physical therapy, assistive technology, counseling, and more.


All special education services are determined by the student's ARD committee.


Please visit our ARD Committee Process Page to learn more about the ARDC process.


Please visit our Evaluation Services page to learn more about our special education evaluation services.


Please visit our Special Ed Instructional Services Page to find descriptions of the variety of services we offer.


Please visit our Related Services Page to find descriptions of related services. 

Please visit our Special Programs Department Leadership Page to find links to all of our department staff.

TEA Required posting regarding Compensatory Services

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The SpedTex website offers a variety of resources for parents.  Parent support is crucial to creating a positive difference in a student's special education program. 

To go to SpedTex website, click on image:



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