• Summer Training Institute on Autism Registration is open for the 2021 Florida State University Summer Training Institute on Autism, which will be on June 15-17, 2021. This three-day online training institute is presented at no cost and will focus on issues surrounding individuals with autism across a lifespan. Each day has a different topic and consists of three informational segments delivered synchronously via Zoom. Topics covered include decreasing the stigma of autism, managing grief and trauma, racial disparity, and literacy strategies for multilingual students with disabilities.

    To register and view the agenda, go to For additional information and inquiries regarding For additional information and inquiries regarding the Summer Training Institute, contact Catherine Zenko at

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  • McKay Scholarship Notification

    Dear Parent or Guardian:

    We would like to inform you that all Florida School districts are required to notify parents of students with disabilities that their student(s) may be eligible to participate in the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program, commonly known as the McKay Scholarship Program.  This program was created to provide educational options to parents of disabled students. 

    For more details, please visit for the full notice letter.

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    Stay connected with what is happening in the ESE world and connect with other parents of students with disabilities to share resources and engage in supportive dialogue through the LCS DAC website and Facebook page. See links below.


    LCS ESE District Advisory Council Website


    LCS ESE District Advisory Council Facebook Page 



    Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Endorsement Tuition Support Program

    The ESE Endorsement Tuition Support Program provides financial assistance to ESE teachers who are teaching students identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or prekindergarten (PreK)/ESE in Florida public schools through a grant sponsored by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services at the FDOE. Please include the announcement of the ESE Endorsements Tuition Support Program in regional notices, listservs and newsletters for teachers. For more information and to download the application, go to For questions, contact Melanie Morales at



    Learning Ally



    College matters










    As our students return for instruction for the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year, we are still faced with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these circumstances, Leon County Schools has planned for additional students to return to school buildings following CDC and Department of Health guidelines while also giving parents the option of having their students receive instruction remotely through the LCS Digital Academy. 

    Students who are eligible for exceptional student education (ESE) or 504 services and accommodations have identified academic, social emotional, and/or behavioral needs. Whether a student is identified as a student with a disability under IDEA or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, all services and accommodations indicated on active individual student plans will be provided.  

    Regardless of the educational environment chosen by the parents, consideration for students’ social-emotional well-being will be a priority. When is it appropriate and feasible (i.e., when reliable and relevant data can be collected), student teams will assess what impact school closures and/or instructional format had on a student’s levels of performance, critical skills, needs, and what revisions, if any, are necessary to make the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan. 

    IEP teams will review all progress made towards IEP goals during the time of crisis. Additionally, students will continue to participate in the general benchmark assessments. That information will be used in combination with the progress towards goals, to ensure that there is a clear plan for individual interventions and measuring the students’ response to those interventions. The established Multitiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework is the standard for providing these interventions and measuring student progress. 

    During this period where classroom routines and instructional settings may be different than during a typical school year, student specific educational planning teams (for either Individual Education Plans or 504 plans) may need to convene to review proposed goals, services, and accommodations and address how to best meet student needs during this time. Student case managers may be reaching out to parents to schedule these meetings. Parents may request these meetings as well.  


    For more information and latest updates regarding Leon County Schools’ 2020-2021 instructional options, click here: or visit the Leon County Schools Website, COVID19 tab.  


    For information on course information specific to ESE students, click this link: ESE Digital Academy Courses. *ESE specific courses are proposed and recommended through an IEP meeting and are based on student performance data review and individual student needs.  


    If you have questions regarding your child’s individual needs or wish to request an IEP or 504 review meeting, please contact the school your child is enrolled in. And, as always, the district ESE office is here to assist-850-487-7160. 


    Adpating to Wearing a Mask   


    We recognize that some of our students may not be able to tolerate wearing a mask. We also recognize that some of our students may have a difficult time adjusting to new routines related to altered instructional practices and classroom routines/settings related to COVID safety practices.  The IEP team will work with students and families to assist in desensitizing students in their wearing masks and adjusting to their new routines.

    Students will not be denied educational services if they cannot tolerate wearing a mask due to their disability or medical condition.

    In order to assist your child in getting ready to wear a mask and in understanding changes in routine due to COVID-19, below are some tips and resources:


    Wearing a mask for children:


    Tim & Moby Video About the Corona Virus:


    Wear A Mask Song with Dr.’s Bop & Pop


    Wear A Mask & Social Distancing:


    Printable Social Stories:

    Wearing A Mask Social Story: (pdf)



    COVID Related Stories for Students,1,jQsmd-Cgcv3iAACvMKXm8Or2m035EBtg9x2meDG-hrXzmRUGuYRBgZriAMhlDEnQhdzx8kdaNwGh7BTxkBNiyQenJurOPCtbGRPMOs7IiQJ_jcpGBRhr&typo=1


    I Can Wear A Mask Social Story:


    Website with COVID Social Stories:

    Social Stories are printable and in MSWord format so the stories can be personalized.

    The topics include:

    Understanding the Corona Virus

    Social Distancing

    Wearing Masks (adult & children versions)

    Non-Handshake Greetings

    Change In Schedule


    What Can I Do When I Am Feeling Bored

     Link for more info on the above sessions




    Our Mission

    It is the mission of the Exceptional Student Education Department to ensure that schools provide opportunities and programs that encourage students to develop academic and social skills commensurate with their abilities. The commitment of the ESE Department is to assist all school personnel in the appropriate identification, placement, and programming for exceptional students. It is recognized that parent training, community awareness, and services to families are essential to student success. This website is designed to give you an overview of the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department of the Leon County School District in Tallahassee, Florida, and the many services available to students that qualify for ESE programs. If you are new to Leon County, information is included that will facilitate your child's entrance into our district and, if applicable, into an appropriate exceptional program. A brief description of each exceptional program and its eligibility requirements are provided as well as other valuable information regarding your child's Individual Education Plan (IEP).


    The Exceptional Student Education Department is committed to giving exceptional students the means of achieving their annual goals as specified on each student's Individual Education Plan while educating them in the least restrictive environment.


    If you have any questions please contact the counselor at your child's school, the ESE Program Specialist assigned to your child's school (listed in ESE District Staff to the left), or the Exceptional Student Education office at 850-487-7158.


    Please click on link for the FLDOE Tuition Support Program for SLP, ASD, PreK, and Para-to-Teacher

    FLDOE Tuition Support Program




    Virtual Tips

    tips 2

    tips 3



    Special Ed. Connection

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  • Telephone: (850) 487-7160
    Fax: (850) 487-7823
    Address: 3955 W. Pensacola Street,
    Tallahassee, FL 32304
    Cathy Shields, Director II
    Compliance, Operations
    and Districtwide Programs
    Brooke Brunner, Director II
    Early Childhood Programs
    K-12 ESE Curriculum
    Melissa Barton, Coordinator for
    Jenni Jenkins, Coordinator
    Behavior Sevices
Last Modified on June 5, 2021