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 is 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 in 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 on ESE District Staff to the left), or the Exceptional Student Education office at 850-487-7160.
Para-to-Teacher Support Program
The Para-to-Teacher Support Program is holding a virtual question-and-answer session on September 28, 2023, at 6 p.m. ET (5 p.m. CT). Program Director, Dr. Keri Fogle will discuss funding opportunities for paraprofessionals who already hold at least an associate degree, the equivalent number of college credit hours, or a bachelor’s degree in a noneducation field. The Para-to-Teacher Support Program is a state-funded grant program that has supported more than 200 paraprofessionals in earning their degrees to become special education teachers throughout Florida. For further information, requirements, and colleges and universities where paraprofessionals can receive financial support while earning their initial certification in special education, go to the Para-to-Teacher Support Program website.
To request the Zoom link for the virtual session, contact the program at email@example.com.
Accessing Learning Ally New to Learning Ally or need a refresher?
Learn about their more than 80,000 human-read audiobook library, identify and enroll eligible students, assign a great first book, and develop a communication plan to share with families by attending a live session or watching a 15-minute Rapid Launch Session. Please know that your Florida team is here to assist you in the launch of Learning Ally this school year.
To watch a 15-minute Rapid Launch Session, go to To view the Florida Rapid Launch Session for Learning Ally video, click here.
Please know that your Florida team is here to assist you in the launch of Learning Ally this school year. For questions, contact Learning Ally at https://learningally.org/Solutions-for-School/school-grants/Florida.
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.
Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Endorsement Tuition Support Program
Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Endorsement Tuition Support Program The ESE Endorsement Tuition Support Program provides financial assistance to ESE educators or speech-language pathologists who are teaching students identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Prekindergarten (PreK)/ESE in Florida public schools. Information about this endorsement tuition support program is being disseminated to assist teachers seeking an endorsement in ASD or PreK/ESE. Please include announcements of this ESE Endorsement Tuition Support Program in regional notices, listservs or newsletters for teachers. To view the application, go to https://florida-ese.org/tuition-support. For further assistance, contact Melanie Morales at ESESupport@fiu.edu.
Para-to-Teacher Tuition Support Program Live Recruitment Zoom Session If you are a paraprofessional working with students with disabilities, now is the time to follow your passion for the classroom and earn a bachelor’s degree in exceptional student education (ESE). If you already have an Associate in Arts degree or equivalent college coursework, you can join a live recruitment Zoom session and learn more. Please join Dr. Keri Fogle and Russell Gremillion, co-directors of the state-funded Para-to-Teacher Tuition Support Program, on June 29, 2021, at 4 p.m. EDT. They will discuss the program’s requirements and the application process and then answer questions on earning your bachelor’s degree in ESE, deaf education or visual disabilities. For program information on the Para-to-Teacher Tuition Support Program, go to https://paratoteacherprogram.com. To receive a link to join the session, contact Dr. Keri Fogle at firstname.lastname@example.org or Russell Gremillion at email@example.com.
The Special Education Innovation Network The Special Education Innovation Network is a newly formed national group of special education researchers, nonprofit organizations and assistive technology software developers. Each member of the network has developed an education technology tool with an award from the Small Business Innovation Research programs at the United States Department of Education’s (USDOE’s) Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, and programs at the National Center for Special Education Research at IES and the Office of Special Education Programs at the USDOE. To view the directory of the tools titled, “READY NOW: Education Technology Resources to Support Special Education Practitioners and Children and Students with or At Risk for Disabilities,” go to http://signetwork.org/content_page_assets/content_page_3/Ready%20Now%20Special%20Educatio n%202020.pdf. For more information or questions, contact Peg Sullivan, director, Florida’s State Personnel Development Grant, and director, Working with the Experts for Occupational and Physical Therapists, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Mary Walsh, program specialist, Bureau of Exceptional Student Education, at Mary.Walsh@fldoe.org.
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 https://autismnavigator.com/webinar-2021-summer-training-institute/. For additional information and inquiries regarding For additional information and inquiries regarding the Summer Training Institute, contact Catherine Zenko at email@example.com.
“No person shall on the basis of sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age, color, pregnancy, disability, military status or genetic information be denied employment, receipt of services, access to or participation in school activities or programs if qualified to receive such services, or otherwise be discriminated against or placed in a hostile environment in any educational program or activity including those receiving federal financial assistance, except as provided by law.” No person shall deny equal access or a fair opportunity to meet to, or discriminate against, any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, or any other youth group listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society.
An employee, student, parent, or applicant alleging discrimination with respect to employment, or any educational program or activity may contact:
Tonja Fitzgerald, Divisional Director
Equity Compliance Officer (Students)
Leon County School District
2757 West Pensacola Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32304
Wallace Knight, Director
Equity Compliance Officer (Employees)
Title IX Compliance Officer
Leon County School District
2757 West Pensacola Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32304
A student or parent alleging discrimination as it relates to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act may contact:
Jennifer Benton, 504 Specialist
Telephone: (850) 487-7160Fax: (850) 487-7823Address: 3955 W. Pensacola Street,Tallahassee, FL 32304Cathy Shields, Director IICompliance, Operationsand Districtwide Programs850-487-7160Brooke Brunner, Director IIEarly Childhood ProgramsK-12 ESE Curriculum850-922-2099Melissa Barton, CoordinatorCompliance850-487-7160Jennifer Benton, Program SpecialistSection 504850-487-7160Christy Fulater, CoordinatorESE and Gifted Instructional Supports850-488-1652Jenni Jenkins, CoordinatorBehavior Services850-487-7160Kristy Ward, Project ManagerTransition Services850-487-7323Heather Willis-Doxsee, CoordinatorDistrictwide ESE Services850-561-8944