At your service...

Contact us via email or call us in-state toll-free between 9:00am and 5:00pm MT at 1.888.231.9393, Local 406.444.3095

Have a Media Inquiry?
Emilie Ritter Saunders, Communications Director, 406.444.3160

MAIN CONTACTS

Frank Podobnik, Division Administrator, 406.444.4428
State Special Education Funding, School Psychology Services, Cooperatives, Legislation

Administrative Support Staff

  • Marlene Wallis, Office Manager, 406.444.2504
    Contracts/Agreements, State Special Education Advisory Panel, Hearing Conservation Program
  • Melissa Niemi, Program Specialist, 406.444.0037
    Stipends (speech/school psychology) Renewal Units, Transition, School Mental Health; Response to Intervention (RTI), Autism Program
  • Kelley Brown,, Program Specialist, 406.444.5661
    State Professional Development Grant (SPDG), MTSS, MBI Youth Days, ECPPD, CSPD, Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI), Paraprofessionals

School Improvement Unit

  • Dale Kimmet, Unit Manager, 406.444.0742
    Compliance Monitor, Significant Needs Grant
  • Ruth Miller, Compliance Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.1579
    Compliance Monitoring
  • Francisco Román, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444-4426, TTY: 444.0235
    Compliance Monitoring, Services to Students with Deaf-Blindness, Educational Interpreting Services
  • Danni McCarthy, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.0452
    619 Coordinator, Compliance Monitor, Preschool Specialist
  • Marla Swanby, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.0044
    Transition, Parent Participation

Professional Development Unit

  • Susan Bailey-Anderson, Unit Manager, 406.444.2046
    State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG),Professional Development and Technical Assistance (CSPD), Montana Behavioral Initiative(MBI), Services/Issues for Students with Emotional Disturbance/Behavior Disorders, Integrated School Mental Health, Paraprofessional Training
  • Erin Butts, Program Improvement Specialist, 406.444.0688
    Integrated School Mental Health, Targeted School Improvement Activities
  • Vacant, RTI Coordinator, 406.444.0923
    Response to Intervention (RTI), School Improvement, Instructional Strategies, Training and Assistance
  • Annette Young, Coordinator, State Personnel Development Grant 406.444.0299
    Differentiated Instruction, Teacher Mentor Programs and Training, Secondary Transition and Best Practices in Professional Development, School Psychology Stipend Program, Speech Stipend Program, Special Education Endorsement Project
  • Iris Ziegler, School Climate Transformation (SCT) Grant Coordinator, 406.444.0923
  • Doug Doty, Coordinator, Montana Autism Education Project, 406.459.5303

Part B/ Data and Accountability Unit

  • Anne Rainey, IDEA Part B Data Manager, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444.4430
    Part B/Preschool Allocations, Cooperative Memberships, E-Grants, School Discipline, Post-School Survey
  • Mary Graff, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444.0685
    AIM, Special Education Data Collections, Federal Reporting.
  • Jan Duiker, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444-7432
    Child Count, Exiting, General Data Requests

IDEA Part B Manager

  • Dick Trerise, IDEA Part B Manager, 406.444.4429
    IDEA Part B/Preschool Allocations, E-Grants, Child Count, State Special Education Funding, State Performance Plan, Annual Performance Report

Attached Personnel

  • Mandi Gibbs, Early Assistance Program Director, 406.444.5664
    Suspension/Expulsion, Parent/School Inquiries Prior to Formal Complaint, Early Assistance Program(EAP), Section 504 Questions
  • Linda Brandon-Kjos, Administrative Officer, 406.444.4402
    Mediation, Due Process Hearings, Expedited Hearings, Liaison/Hearing Officers
  • Cindi Tenneson, Programmer/Analyst, 406.444.9860
    Analysis and Design of Computer Applications for Collection, Analysis and Reporting of Special Education Data
  • Charlotte McMilin, Accounting Specialist, 406.444.4403
    IDEA-B/Preschool Accounting, In-State Day Treatment Accounting
  • Ann Gilkey, Legal Counsel, 406.444.4399
    Questions Concerning Procedural Safeguards Under IDEA.Due Process, Complaints
Questions or concerns about this webpage?
Please contact the OPI Help Desk at opihelpdesk@mt.gov or 406.444.0087
 

School Programs:
Special Education

Welcome to the Montana Division of Special Education web pages. The Division of Special Education has responsibility for assuring that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Division staff provide training, technical assistance and monitor special education services provided by public schools and state-operated programs. The Division is also responsible for managing the flow of state and federal dollars for special education programs.

Advisory Panel

Members

Private School Representative
Theresa Erickson
Helena Christian School
East Helena, MT 59635

Regular Classroom Teacher
Courtney Lynn Bell
Chinook Schools
Chinook, MT 59523

Parent Of A Child With Disabilities
Christine Whitlatch
Glendive, MT 59330
Kellie Ann Hicks
Butte, MT 59701

Higher Education that Prepares
Special Education and Related
Services Personnel

Estee Aiken, Ed.D.
Associate Professor, Education Department
The University of Montana Western
Dillon, MT 59725

Teacher of Children with Disabilities
Stephen Morsette
Office of Public Instruction
Helena, MT 59620-2501

Special Education Program Administrator
Dan Laughlin
Director of Special Education
Anaconda Public Schools
Anaconda, MT 59711

State/Local Administrator
John Wetsit
Frazer Public Schools
Frazer, MT 59225

State Child Welfare Agency Responsible for Foster Care
Theresa Becker
Foster Care Licensing Program

Vocational, Community, or Business Concerned with the Provision of Transition Services to Children with Disabilities
Robin Farrell
West Mont Flower and Trading Co
Helena, MT 59601

Representative From Juvenile & Adult Corrections
Josh Wigen
Riverside Youth Correctional
Boulder, MT 59632-00

Part C/IDEA Representative
Wendy Studt
Part C Coordinator
Community Services Bureau
Developmental Disabilities Program
Montana Department of Public Health
and Human Services
Helena, MT 59604

Representatives of other state agencies involved in the financing or delivery of Related Services to Children with Disabilities
Barbara Varnum
Chief of Field Services
Montana Vocational Rehabilitation
Helena, MT 59604-4210

Representative of Subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
Heather Denny
Office of Public Instruction
Helena, MT 59620-2501

Student
Tristan Scott
Helena, MT 59602


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Upcoming Meetings

May 4-5, 2016
The combined Advisory Panel meeting with the Annual CSPD Stakeholder Meeting will be held at the Gateway Center, 1710 National Ave., Helena, May 4, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Advisory Panel will meet on Thursday, May 5, 2016, from 8:00 a.m. – Noon, at the Comfort Suites of Helena, 3180 N Washington Avenue, Helena.

The meetings are open to the public.  The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.  If you need an accommodation, require an alternate format of a document, or have questions concerning accessibility, please contact Marlene Wallis, 406.444.2504, TDD 800-253-4091, or e-mail at mwallis@mt.gov, by close of business on April 29, 2016.

January 14-15, 2016
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, January 14, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, January 15, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at Comfort Suites of Helena, 3180 N. Washington,  Helena.

The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meetings and in need of accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public Instruction 406.444. 2504.

September 17, 2015
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, September 17, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, September 18, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1714 11th Avenue, Helena.

The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meetings and in need of accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public Instruction 406.444. 2504.

June 25, 2015
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, June 25, 2015, from 8:30
a.m. – 4:00 p.m., at the Comfort Suites of Helena, 3180 N Washington Avenue, Helena.

The meeting is open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meeting and in need of
accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public Instruction 406.444. 2504, TDD 800.253.4091, or e‐mail at mwallis@mt.gov

May 7-8, 2015
The combined Advisory Panel meeting with the Comprehensive System of Professional Development
(CSPD), Part C, Vocational Rehabilitation and Parents, Let’s Unite for Kids (PlUK) will be held at the
Colonial Red Lion, Helena, May 7, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Panel will meet on Friday, May
8, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at the Comfort Suites of Helena, 3180 N Washington Avenue, Helena.

The meetings are open to the public. The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. If you need an accommodation, require an alternate format of a document, or have questions concerning accessibility, please contact Marlene Wallis, 406.444.2504, TDD 800.253. 4091, or e‐mail at mwallis@mt.gov, by close of business on April 30, 2015.

January 23-24, 2015
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, January 22, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, January 23, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at the Comfort Suites of Helena, 3180 N Washington Avenue, Helena.

The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meetings and in need of accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public Instruction 406.444. 2504.

July 10‐11, 2014
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, July 10, 2014, from 8:30
a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, July 11, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, Room
156, 1714 11th Avenue.

The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meetings and in need of accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public Instruction 406.444. 2504.

May 1‐2, 2014
The combined Advisory Panel meeting with the Comprehensive System of Professional Development
(CSPD), Part C, Vocational Rehabilitation and Parents, Let’s Unite for Kids (PlUK) will be held at the
Colonial Red Lion, Helena, May 1, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Panel will meet on Friday, May
2, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1720 11th Avenue.

The meetings are open to the public. The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. If you need an accommodation, require an alternate format of a document, or have questions concerning accessibility, please contact Marlene Wallis, 406.444.2504, TDD 800.253. 4091, or e‐mail at mwallis@mt.gov, by close of business on April 18, 2014.

January 23-24, 2014
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, January 23, 2014, 8:30
a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, January 24, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1714 11th Avenue.

The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meetings and in need of accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public Instruction 406.444. 2504

September 26‐27, 2013
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, September 26,
2013, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, September 27, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at
Jorgensons’ Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1714 11th Avenue.

The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meeting and in
need of accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public
Instruction 406.444.2504. Public Comments may be submitted, prior to the meeting, in
writing to Marlene Wallis, Office of Public Instruction. June 26, 2012, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Jorgensons Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1714 11th Avenue. This is the Panel’s final
meeting for the 2011‐2012 school year.

Early Assistance Program (EAP)

For Assistance: Early Assistance Program 406.444.5664

The Legal Services and Special Education Divisions of the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) have instituted the Early Assistance Program (EAP). This program is designed to provide technical assistance to parents, school districts, and advocacy organizations in regard to the delivery of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities (10.16.3660, ARM). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents can file complaints if they feel a district is not following administrative rules. The intent of the EAP program is to intervene prior to or at the time of filing a complaint with OPI (10.16.3662)(4)(c). At this intervention point, required by 10.16.3660(4), the EAP will gather information pertinent to the situation from parents, schools, and others who are involved with the issue and attempt to resolve the problem within 15 school days. With permission from the parents, EAP may exceed 15 days.

Our philosophy is to resolve issues amicably and thereby prevent costly legal entanglements wherever possible. We feel that, given the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand in a less formidable and confrontational venue, both parents and schools can reach agreement without undermining the relationships necessary to ensure the smooth delivery of special education services to children and youth with disabilities.

Federal and State Laws and Rules

Federal

State

The Administrative Rules of Montana
The Administrative Rules of Montana, as they pertain to Special Education, are located in Title 10, Chapter 16, of the Administrative Rules.

Statutes relating to Special Education

State Documents
Montana's State Plan (2007) contains the federal regulations and state statutes, regulations and policies that direct special education services for students with disabilities in Montana.

Special Education Forms/Guides

Hearing Conservation Program

The Office of Public Instruction Hearing Conservation Program (OPI-HCP) serves children 0 to 21 years of age. There are 9 audiologists manning 13 regionally based centers. Each center serves approximately 4 or 5 counties around the center.

The HCP involves screening, re-screening, in-school assessments, comprehensive hearing evaluations, and follow-up parent counseling and networking with other agencies. While the screening, and in some cases re-screening, is provided by the schools or special education cooperatives, the training of the screeners and overseeing of the screening program is one of the duties of the audiologists under contract with the HCP. Other duties include, but are not limited to, attending CST/IEP meetings, fitting and overseeing trials with FM systems for the hearing impaired, hearing aid maintenance, installing and maintaining amplified classrooms, child find participation, screening in Headstart and preschools, interagency networking, in service training, report writing and communication with medical providers.

Professional Development Resources

Special Projects

 

 

Secondary Transition

Paraprofessional Secondary Transition Academy

Module 1 – Disability Awareness and Employment Supports
Module 2 – Employment Planning – Roles and Responsibilities
Module 3 – Community-Based Job Training

Training & Webinars

Transitioning to Life Webinars
Introduction to the Adult Services Webinars
Navigating Montana's Develpmental Disabilities Program - December, 2010
Vocational Rehabilitation – Transitioning to Life - February 1, 2011
Overview of Social Security – SSI and SSDI — April 19, 2011
This webinar was recorded by the Rural Institute Transition and Employment Projects. After clicking on the link above, select: Audiorecording: Overview of SSI and SSDI
Social Security Work Incentives - May 17, 2011
This webinar was recorded by the Rural Institute Transition and Employments Projects. After clicking on the link above, select: Audio recording of Social Security Work Incentives

Job Analysis, Prompting and Fading
Prompting and Fading 2 – April 27, 2011
Prompting and Fading 1 - April 5, 2011
Job Analysis - March 29, 2011

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Sample Planning Documents

IEP Transition Planning

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Forms

The Office of Public Instruction has mandated use of the Special Education module of the AIM system effective March 1, 2010. Questions? Contact AIM Help Desk or for Technical Questions, 888.461.2004

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Special Education Cooperative Boundaries

Special Education Cooperative Boundaries Bear Paw Coop, PO Box 1449, Chinook 59523 Sanders County Coop Gallatin/Madison Coop Bitterroot Valley Coop Prickly Pear Coop North Central Learning Resource Center Central Montana Learning Resource Center Roose-Valley Special Education Coop Seridan/Daniels Coop Prairie View Coop Big Country Coop Tri-County Coop Eastern Yellowstone Coop Yellowstone/West Carbon Coop Stillwater/Sweetgrass Coop Park County Coop Missoula Area Coop Great Divide Educational Services Flathead County Coop Big Sky Special Education Coop Chouteau County Joint Services