District Mission: Developing Washington's most sought-after graduates
Special Education Hotline: 509.526.6770
Director of Special Education
Walla Walla Public Schools District Office
364 S. Park Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362
507-400-7446 (District Cell)
Libby has been with Walla Walla Public Schools since 2014 as the Director of Special Education. She has an open door policy for parents and staff and always strives to make sure all parties are heard. Libby is a former special education teacher and assistant director and is passionate about the work Walla Walla is doing for students with special needs. Libby believes in inclusive education and having high expectations for all students.
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” - Verna Myers
Special Education Staff
Elissa Tinder, Special Education Specialist
Diana Evenson, Special Education Specialist
Holly Anderson, SLP/District Assisitive Technology Coordinator
Marianne O’Leary, Special Education Secretary
Breelin Renwick, Special Education Records
Special Education Program and Services Overview
Special Education services are offered to all children from birth to 21 years of age who have mild to severe disabilities which affects their access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
Child Find is an essential part of the process of identifying students with disabilities from birth to age 21 in order for children to receive the services needed to fully access their education. See the latest Child Find flyer here:
If you suspect that your child has a disability which is limiting their access to a full education, contact your student’s school to inquire about a special education referral. The written referral can be given to a learning specialist, guidance counselor, building’s school psychologist, principal or teacher. The school psychologist will contact you about your referral.
Decision to Assess-
Once the school psychologist has the referral, they will take the referral to the school’s special education team where they will analyze the information that has made the student a focus of concern. The team has 25 school days to determine if an evaluation is warranted. If the team decides not to assess, the team will contact the parent and decide what the next steps will be for that student. If the special education team does decide to assess, the school psychologist will obtain permission from guardians/parents.
Once the permission to assess has been obtained by parents/guardians, the special education team has 35 calendar days in order to complete all areas of assessment that were designated on the consent form. These assessments may include the following: cognitive, academic, social/behavior, adaptive, vocational, communication, fine and gross motor, vision, hearing, mobility, and medical. The purpose of these assessments is to gain a broad and specific understanding of a child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Initial Evaluation Meeting-
After all assessments, observations, and/or inventories are complete, the team (which includes parents/guardians) will meet to go over results and the team will determine whether the student is eligible for special education services. If the student is deemed eligible by the team, then an Individualized Education Plan will be designed for the students particular needs.
Initial Individualized Education Plan-
The initial Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be writing in order to provide specially designed instruction to the student in all of the areas that the team determined they qualify in (ie. reading, writing, math, social/behavior, adaptive, etc). This meeting will include the parent/guardian, special education teacher, school psychologist (in some cases), general education teachers when appropriate, administrator, and other specialists as needed. This plan designs that program includes present level of performance, goals for the student to work toward, services that the student will be accessing, accommodations/modifications to the student’s overall program, and other special considerations. This meeting must be held within 30 calendar days of the evaluation meeting.
Start of Special Education Services-
Once the initial IEP meeting has been held and the legal guardian/parent has signed consent to begin services, designated services may begin on the agreed upon date stated in the IEP. Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) is the provision of services that were decided upon by the team during the IEP meeting and are designed to meet the special needs of each individual student.
There are strict timelines during the initial special education referral, evaluation, and IEP process. See the link below to access that timeline:
Every year, at least one day before the previous IEP date, the IEP must be reviewed by the team during the IEP meeting. An IEP is a working document and can be reviewed at any time, but must be done at least once per year.
Small changes and corrections to the IEP can be made throughout the IEP year. Any team member can request amendments when appropriate.
At least every three years, every child in special education programs will have their program reviewed by a team of qualified professionals. This is done to evaluate the efficacy of the child’s program and to determine if they continue to qualify for special education services. A re evaluation can be done before the three year due date if the team deems it necessary.
Exiting from Services-
Students can be exited from special education services when the team deems that services are no longer needed (usually based on testing, inventories, observations, and parent input) or if a parent signs a form saying that they are revoking services.
Continuum of Special Education Services
Special Education services are based on the level of need for specially designed instruction. A team of qualified professionals, along with parents/guardians, make the determination for services required to meet a student’s needs. These special education services are on a continuum from the least restrictive environment to the most restrictive environment. Walla Walla School District has a variety of specially designed programs which can target the special needs of each student. Those programs are as follows:
- Full Inclusion with in-class support- Students who are accepted into Head Start, ECEAP, or transitional kindergarten in Walla Walla are served in their preschool classroom by our special education teacher and para-educators.
- Pull out services- Students are able to access specially designed instruction by special education staff in a smaller environment and return to their general education preschool classroom.
- Walla Walla Preschool- This preschool program is designed for children who need a more structured environment and targeted skill development in multiple areas.
- Developmental Playgroup- This program is designed for children who are 3 years of age. The focus is on allowing children to develop socially as well as providing specially designed instruction in their areas of special education services.
- Full Inclusion with in-class support- In class services allow for students to have the benefit of the general education curriculum with differentiated instruction and access to their peers. This type of support is available in all the elementary schools.
- Resource Room pull out support- Resource Room services allow for students to receive specially designed instruction in targeted skills in a smaller environment, but the student also continues to have access to peers and general education curriculum as appropriate.
- Reaching Independence through Structured Education (R.I.S.E) support- R.I.S.E program provides more structure through more targeted skills development which may include the following: behavioral management, self-regulation skills, pre-academic/academic skills, adaptive skills, social skills, and sensory integration skills. Many students attending R.I.S.E. programs continue to spend part of their day in the general setting, however, this may not be appropriate for all students. The IEP team makes decisions on the amount of time spent in general education settings. The district has three classrooms for students needing this type of program. All three classrooms are located at Green Park Elementary.
- Realizing Exceptional Accomplishments With Our Communities Help (REACH) support- This program supports students with moderate to severe disabilities which significantly impedes their ability to access the general education curriculum. Students in this program may need access to vision services, motor services, speech services, and curriculum which is well below that of their same-age peers. The IEP team makes decisions about what services should be accessed in the general setting and determines what the benefit would be to the student.
- DD Support- This classroom supports our very young students that are just entering Elementary School, but still have some identified needs that require more support than just receiving Special Education Services through the Resource Rooms located in every building. Students in this program are specially placed by a team of Professionals from the Special Education Preschool. The students receive in-depth intervention in the areas of Communication, Social Skills and/or Behavior, and both Fine/Gross Motor therapy, as well as in the Academic and/or Pre-Academic areas of Reading, Writing, and Math. A smaller class size with a reduced ratio of adults-to-students (one Teacher and 3 Para-professionals), along with teaming by both the Speech-Language Pathologist and Physical therapist ensures each and every student will make progress over time. Students are able to learn new skills at their own speed, and can remain a member of that classroom for up to three years.
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL) support- This program provides an environment where students can receive academic support in conjunction with targeted behavioral interventions. Components to this classroom include group social skills, individual counseling when appropriate, self-esteem building, and positive behavior supports in order for students to access the general education setting whenever possible. This program is currently located at Berney Elementary School.
- Full Inclusion with in-class support- In class services allow for students to have the benefit of the general education curriculum with differentiated instruction and access to their peers. This type of support is available in both middle schools.
- Resource Room support- Resource Room services allow for students to receive specially designed instruction in targeted skills in a smaller environment, but the student also continues to have access to peers and general education curriculum as appropriate. Both middle schools offer resource room support for students.
- Reaching Independence through Structured Education (R.I.S.E) support- R.I.S.E program provides more structure through more targeted skills development which may include the following: behavioral management, self-regulation skills, pre-academic/academic skills, adaptive skills, social skills, and sensory integration skills. Many students attending R.I.S.E. programs continue to spend part of their day in the general setting, however, this may not be appropriate for all students. The IEP team makes decisions on the amount of time spent in general education settings. The Middle School R.I.S.E. program is currently located at Garrison Middle School.
- Realizing Exceptional Accomplishments With Our Communities Help (REACH) support- This program supports students with moderate to severe disabilities which significantly impedes their ability to access the general education curriculum. Students in this program may need access to vision services, motor services, speech services, and curriculum which is well below that of their same-age peers. The IEP team makes decisions about what services should be accessed in the general setting and determines what the benefit would be to the student. Currently, the middle school life skills program is located at Pioneer middle school.
- Social/Emotional Learning (S.E.L)- Our middle school behavior program is currently housed at Garrison Middle School. Each student attending this program will have a specially designed plan to meet their individual behavior needs. This might include the following: modified schedules, additional staff supports, Emergency Response Protocols, special education bussing, etc. Students participating in this program often have classes in the general education environment. If students spend time in the general setting, this decision will have been made by the IEP team, which includes the parent/guardian. The middle school S.E.L. program is located at Garrison Middle School.
Walla Walla High School:
- Full Inclusion with or without in-class support- In class services allow for students to have the benefit of the general education curriculum with differentiated instruction and access to their peers. This type of support is available throughout all high school classes when appropriate for students.
- Resource Room support- Resource Room services allow for students to receive specially designed instruction in targeted skills in a smaller environment, but the student also continues to have access to peers and general education curriculum as appropriate.
- Realizing Exceptional Accomplishments With Our Communities Help (REACH) support- Students who require more significant or direct services will be able to have access to those services through a variety of means. This could include, but is not limited to, the following: vocational education and training, social/emotional support, independent living education, community access, on-the-job training, interpersonal skills, self-advocacy, and social thinking/communication.
- Students Transitioning into Employment Possibilities (S.T.E.P)- The S.T.E.P program is designed for students 18-21 years of age with mild to moderate disabilities. Students who are identified by their IEP Team, which includes the student, as continuing to need specially designed instruction in vocational, job skills, community access, public transportation access, and independent living skills may be eligible for this program.
Lincoln High School:
- Lincoln High School Continuum of Services- Lincoln High School serves those students who desire smaller class sizes, more individualized attention and educational opportunities. Lincoln students with disabilities can access their classes in a resource room setting, general education setting with or without support, or in a self-contained classroom for students with significant social/emotional needs.
- Lincoln High School Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Program- In the behavior program at Lincoln, students may receive the following: social/emotional support, vocational training, social thinking and communication skills, interpersonal skills, self-advocacy skills, academic services, and behavior modification techniques.
Related Special Education Services
Related services is the term for those services a child with a disability needs in order to benefit from special education. A few examples of related services are Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech/Language Therapy, Vision Services, and Orientation and Mobility Services. Walla Walla is fortunate to be fully staffed with highly qualified professionals who provide related services to our students.
Special Education Staff
Walla Walla Center for Children & Families - Preschool Special Education
Abigail “Abbie” Smyth, Preschool Special Education Teacher
Elementary Special Education Teachers
- Kathleen Gilmore, Berney - Resource Room
- Lisa Merrill, Berney - SEL
- Tasha Mayne, Edison - Resource Room
- Esther Angotti, Green Park - REACH
- Kelsie Loree, Green Park - RISE
- Katie Ingram, Green Park - RISE
- Marcia Frandsen, Green Park - Resource Room
- Danica Bentley, Green Park - Resource Room
- Diane Wright, Prospect Point - Resource Room
- Nicole Bunker, Prospect Point - Resource Room
- Meg Cochran, Sharpstein - DD Support
- Nicole Hyatt, Sharpstein - Resource Room
- Laurie Schuetze, Sharpstein, Resource Room
Middle School Special Education Teachers
- Michelle Paine, Garrison - RISE
- Chad Paterson, Garrison - SEL
- Nate Carrara, Garrison - Resource
- Nate Ferraro, Garrison - Resource
- Adam Berg, Garrison - Resource
- Jordon Poynor, Pioneer - REACH
- Nathan Dross, Pioneer - Resource
- Jaimee Rossi, Pioneer - Resource
High School Special Education Teachers
- Madeleine Blackburn, Lincoln - SEL
- Brooke Kimball, Lincoln - Resource
- Kris Bland, Lincoln - Resource
- Laura Bertinelli, Wa-Hi - Resource
- Brian Taylor, Wa-Hi - Resource
- Krystal Ceron, Wa-Hi - REACH
- Dave Larson, Wa-Hi - Resource
- Jennifer Butenhoff, Wa-Hi - Resource
- Adam Berg, Wa-Hi - Resource
- Jake Butenhoff, Wa-Hi - STEP
Walla Walla On-Line Teachers
- Monica Collins - K-12
- Gina Stahlheber- K-12
Related Services Staff:
Speech and Language Pathologists
- Carrie Diede
- Kelli Neal
- Holly Anderson
- Erin Armijo
- Tyler Comstock
- Dyan Nelson
- Missy Newcom
- Audrey Schmid
- Megan Stadnik
- Kim Greene
Physical and Occupational Therapists
- Christian Davidson Juhnke, Physical Therapist
- Kaitlyn Reser, Occupational Therapist
American Sign Language Interpreters
- Serena James
- Erin Griffin
- Brandi McIntire, Berney and WaHi
- Heather Adams, Pioneer and Edison
- Kim Butenhoff, Sharpstein and Prospect Point
- Annie Boyd, Green Park
- Rob Graham, Garrison and Lincoln
- Emma Kubrock, Walla Walla Center for Children and Families and Walla Walla On-Line
- Alicia Quackenbush, Wa-Hi