Special Education

Virginia Schools Special Education Vision Statement

We believe ALL students can learn.  Virginia School District Special Education provides programming that is inclusive, collaborative and individualized to meet the needs of our students.  School, parent and community partnerships are essential to foster the strengths and potential of each student to become resilient, independent citizens.

The Virginia School District is part of The Northland Special Education Cooperative comprised of 11 cooperating independent school districts and one private residential school.

Determining Special Education Eligibility

The Virginia School District must follow certain state procedures to determine if a child has a disability and is eligible for special education services.  A student with a disability must meet eligibility criteria under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.)  Parents are involved in the process of determining whether their child has a disability.  If you suspect that your child may have a disability, the first step should be to contact your child’s teacher to discuss your concerns.  As a result of this discussion, your child may be referred to a Child Study Team (CST) for additional review.  The Child Study Team is a group of educators representing both general and special education staff who review student progress.   The team will suggest pre-referral interventions or strategies designed to first assist students within the general education setting.  After four weeks of documenting the interventions, and its noted the student still does not show adequate progress, the Child Study Team may suggest a special education evaluation. The parent will be invited to attend a evaluation planning meeting.  Parents are encouraged to share any outside assessments or evaluations that may have already been completed outside the school (i.e. medical documentation of ADD/ADHD etc.).  This will assist the team in making better decisions as to what additional testing may be needed.  A parent’s signature is required before our school psychologist can proceed with the educational evaluation.  The school then has 30 school days to complete the assessment.  Once an evaluation is completed, the parent and team will meet to review the assessment summary and ultimately determine whether the student has a disability and qualifies for special education service/support.

The following are educational disabilities identified under IDEA:


If a child is determined eligible for special education services an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be developed for students.  This plan includes:

  • your child’s present level of academic and functional performance
  • annual goals and how your child’s progress toward meeting the IEP goals will be measured
  • description of special education and related services
  • the amount, frequency, location, and duration of special education services
  • support your child needs to succeed in regular education
  • support your child’s teacher needs to teach your child
  • the extent to which your child will be in regular education classes and receive the general education curriculum
  • a transition plan for life after high school for children 14 and older
  • and how you will be informed about your child’s progress


The IEP must be reviewed annually and if appropriate, a new IEP with new goals is developed.  Parents are involved in the process of reviewing an IEP and developing new goals.


Special Education Related Links

Special Education Resources on the Internet – a collection of Internet accessible information resources of interest to those involved in the fields related to Special Education.

Northland Special Education Cooperative

ARC Minnesota – Advocacy and support for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

PACER Center – Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights, a national center based in Minnesota

MN Dept. of Education



The Virginia High School Special Education Staff:

Jim Nelson  High School Special Education Coordinator / District 504 Accommodation Coordinator.

Cara Pond Grade 7  Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) /Other Health Disabilities (OHD)/ Emotional Behavioral Disabilities (EBD)

Emily Heitke Grade 8-9   Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) /Other Health Disabilities(OHD)/Emotional Behavioral  Disabilities. (EBD)

Kim Heidi Grade 10-11  Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) /Other Health Disabilities (OHD)/ Emotional Behavioral Disabilities  (EBD) 

Gina Anderson Gr.11-12  Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) /Other Health Disabilities (OHD)/ Emotional Behavioral Disabilities. (EBD)

Amber King  Grade 7-12  Developmental Cognitive Delay (DCD ) / Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Maureen Schaffer 18-21 year old transition program. 

“Bridge to Independence”

Virginia school district hosts an 18-21 year old post high school vocational program.  This program is available to individuals with an IEP ages 18-21 who have completed high school requirements and wish to continue their education and vocational training through age 21.



Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973


Children with disabilities are protected from discrimination in elementary and secondary schools under Section 504 and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).  IDEA sets forth very detailed and comprehensive roles for school districts to follow when providing children with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  Unlike IDEA, Section 504 does not set out detailed rules for school districts to follow when educating children without detailed rules for school districts to follow when educating children with disabilities.  More importantly, IDEA protects children who, by virtue of their disabilities, require special education services.  Section 504, however prohibits discrimination against all disabled school children, regardless of whether they require special education services.  Section 504 is a federal civil rights statute.

504 provides that no student, solely by reason of disability, shall be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity operated by the school district.

There are two (2) obligations imposed on school districts by Section 504.  These obligations are:

A district may not discriminate against a student with a disability and must provide related aids and services, when necessary, to avoid discrimination.

A district must provide a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) to any qualified disabled student.

  • Virginia Minnesota Public Schools
  • ISD 706
  • 411 South 5th Ave.
  • Virginia, MN 55792
  • Phone: 218-749-5437
  • Fax: 218-741-8522