Special Education

art mural handprints

 special ed logo Sarah Cannon
Director of Personalized Learning
Special Education 

Lynnette Steinhoff
Director of Personalized Learning
Special Education 
Mimi Ernst
Assistant to Directors of Personalized Learning


The Douglas County School District Special Education Department provides instructional and programming support and professional development to 85 school sites. Services are provided to approximately 7,000 students district-wide by approximately 1,225 special educators, related service providers, and educational assistants. Additionally, the special education department oversees the administration of Section 504 plans which afford approximately 1,000+ students who experience a substantially limiting physical or mental impairment the opportunity to benefit from the educational program and activities of the school.

Universal and targeted special education support and services are delivered at all school sites within the framework of moderate needs support and itinerant services. Itinerant services include mental health, speech-language, behavior support team, autism assessment and training team, occupational therapy, physical therapy, assistive technology, vision, deaf hard of hearing, and audiology.

Consistent with our mission of empowering all students to achieve world-class outcomes by providing specialized instruction & services, the Special Education Department also provides an intensive level of support in center-based programs for students who experience significant support needs, serious emotional disabilities, deaf and hard of hearing, and autism. Center-based programming is designed to enable students to build the skills required to access and make progress in the general curriculum/environment to the fullest extent possible. To this end, the Special Education Department currently offers 64 significant support needs programs, 11 serious emotional disability programs, 4 deaf and hard of hearing programs, and 2 autism center-based programs district-wide.  

Universal Services

Universal Services are afforded to all students who are entitled to special education services as identified in the student’s Individualized Education Program. Universal services may include:

  • Moderate needs support: An individualized service delivery model that primarily utilizes inclusive practices through a combination of special education support provided in the general classroom environment and/or special education support provided outside the general classroom environment.
  • Direct itinerant support: This may include mental health, speech-language, and occupational therapy interventions provided in the general classroom environment and/or special education support provided outside the general classroom environment.
  • Indirect itinerant support: This consists of primarily consultative services provided by mental health, speech- language, and occupational therapy service providers.
  • Instructional/environmental accommodations & modifications
  • State assessment accommodations
  • Individualized instructional practices
  • Small group services/interventions
  • Individual goal setting and progress monitoring

Targeted Services

The continuum of special education services (universal, targeted, intensive) are designed to ensure that students are able to access and make progress in the general curriculum. Service delivery is driven by student need and subject to change as the student makes progress towards goals and objectives and is served in the least restrictive environment.