Exceptional Education » Accessing Exceptional Ed. Services

Accessing Exceptional Ed. Services

Exceptional education services are accessed through a process of ReferralEvaluation, and Eligibility.

For School-Aged Children
The process of accessing services for school-aged children begins with the child's school and teacher. If you believe your child may need special education services, the first step is to contact the school to discuss your concerns with your child's teachers. Decisions involving exceptional education are individual to the needs of each child. You can also contact the Exceptional Education Department (423-442-5592) to be connected with someone who can assist with questions specific to your student and the referral process.
For Preschool-Aged Children / Early Intervention
Parents of children aged 3-5 who suspect the presence of a disability should contact the Exceptional Education Department (423-442-5592) to be connected with one of our School Psychologists to discuss an evaluation plan. School Psychologists and/or Speech-Language Pathologists evaluate children between the ages of 3 and 5 to determine eligibility and the need for exceptional education services. Educational needs are determined through parent interviews and child evaluation. Areas evaluated may include, but are not limited to: vision, hearing, speech and language, fine and gross motor, cognitive/pre-academic, social/emotional and adaptive development.


A parent, teacher, school counselor or others involved in a student’s education, who believe that a student may require services can make a referral to the School Support Team (S-Team) or the RTI2 Data Team.  Referral to the team will not necessarily result in a referral to exceptional education. The school district is required to seek ways to meet the unique educational needs of all children within the general education program prior to referring a child to exceptional education. The team develops a plan of instructional interventions and accommodations to meet the student’s needs within the general program. The team may determine that a student will be formally referred to determine eligibility for exceptional education services.


When a student is formally referred, the IEP Team is formed and develops the evaluation plan. The required members of the IEP Team include: parent(s), general education teacher, exceptional education teacher, an assessment specialist (often a school psychologist), and a local education authority/LEA (often a school administrator). Parental permission is required for all initial evaluations and placements. The school district has sixty (60) calendar days from the time permission is obtained to complete the evaluation and determine eligibility. 



The determination of eligibility for exceptional education services is two-pronged. After the completion of the evaluation, the IEP team meets to determine whether the evaluation results indicate that the student has one or more disabilities and whether due to the disability the student requires exceptional education services to make progress in the general education program. Disability categories and criteria are set by state and federal special education law. Students must be reevaluated for eligibility every three years.


The child’s eligibility to receive exceptional education and related services from a local school district may be terminated if an IEP team evaluation shows that:

  • The child no longer meets Tennessee eligibility standards; 
  • The child no longer requires exceptional education and related services; 
  • The child graduates with a high school diploma;
  • The child reaches 22 years of age before the start of a school year;
  • Parents request in writing that the child be removed from exceptional education (in which case, the LEA must stop all exceptional education and related services and return the child to general education).
School Psychologists:
Mistina Brown [email protected]
Danielle Reeves [email protected]
Ashlee Lawson Green  [email protected]
Speech Pathologists:
Karen Kirkpatrick   [email protected]
Kelsey Boring  [email protected]
Mallory Gruenenfelder   [email protected]
Betsy Mashburn  [email protected] 
Alicia Russell, SLT   [email protected]