IDEA Fiscal


Dispute Resolution

Early Assistance Program for Special Education

The Early Assistance Program (EAP) at the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) provides technical assistance to help parents, adult students, guardians, school district staff, advocates and other members of the special education community understand the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and implementing Montana laws.

The EAP also provides informal dispute resolution for special education issues relating to a student’s free and appropriate public education or any violation of Part B of the IDEA or implementing Montana laws. Parents and school districts may call the EAP and ask for assistance in resolving these special education concerns. Our philosophy is to resolve special education disagreements amicably, with the lowest level of third-party involvement as possible, thereby preventing costly legal entanglements. Given the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand in a less formidable and confrontational venue, both parents and schools can reach agreement while remaining student focused and without undermining the relationships necessary to ensure the smooth delivery of special education services to students with disabilities.

In addition to the EAP, there are several other dispute resolution options available under the IDEA, including: Individualized Education Program (IEP) facilitation, mediation, state complaints, due process hearings, and expedited due process hearings. A brief overview of each dispute resolution option can be found by clicking on the tabs below. The EAP staff is available to answer questions about each of the dispute resolution options.

There are issues that may be related to special education where the EAP staff is unable to provide assistance, including matters that are outside OPI’s jurisdiction. For example, OPI does not have jurisdiction over Section 504 Plans or claims of discrimination. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is the agency that has the authority to oversee these issues. If you have a question that is outside OPI’s authority, we will work with you to try and find additional resources.

The EAP is a voluntary and impartial process and does not provide legal advice to parents or school districts.

For more information please contact: Dispute Resolution Office for Special Education at (406) 444-2046.

Recruitment and Retention

This content is currently in development. More information to come!

For questions, contact:

Special Education Endorsement Project

Please see the link for more information regarding the requirements, eligibility, and application.

School Psychologist Stipend

Speech Language Pathologist Stipend

Occupational Therapy Stipend

Para Pathways 

  • (more information to come!)

Hearing Conservation Program (HCP)

Sign Language Interpreters/EIPA

Sign Language Interpreting Administrative Rule




EIPA Written Assessment Dates are scheduled for May 5, 2024 at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind in Great Falls, MT

EIPA Performance Assessment Dates are scheduled for May 4, 2024 at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind in Great Falls, MT

Please contact Lucy Beltz to register or for general questions.

If you have questions in regards to the test, please visit the EIPA Diagnostic Center


Other Special Education Resources



OPI Staff are here to help:

Meet the Special Education Team

Kelley Brown, General Information, Meetings, and Events, 406-444-5661

Ty House, Contracts and Payments, 406-444-2504

Danni McCarthy State Special Education Director 406-594-3610
Danni McCarthy Fiscal Management 406-594-3610
Continuing Education & Technical Assistance
Tammy Lysons Unit Manager 406-431-2309
Katie Mattingley Montana Autism Education Program 406-437-3874
Jenny Jarvis GT/MTSS Program Support Specialist 406-410-1140
Anne Carpenter Program Support Specialist 406-465-0922
Annette Viciedo Young Continuing Ed & Stipend Programs 406-444-0299
Lucy Beltz Early Learning Specialist, Special Education Preschool 406-431-4654
School Improvement Supports
John Gorton Unit Manager 406-459-4281
Mercee Cislo School Improvement Specialist 406-437-2369
Alicia Herman School Improvement Specialist 406-438-1363
Chris McCrea School Improvement Specialist 406-444-3864
Desiree Johnson School Improvement Specialist 406-431-1081
Data Systems and Reporting
Danni McCarthy IDEA Part B Data Manager 406-594-3610
Shara Blair AIM Special Education Data System & Behavior Data 406-444-0685
Dispute Resolution
Mandi Gibbs Early Assistance Program & Dispute Resolution 406-444-5664
Angie Griner Paralegal 406-444-2046