Special Programs Resources
Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA) offers robust special education services to support students and meet their needs, empowering them to thrive in school and beyond. With high-quality, personalized learning and the help of teachers and support staff, students with special needs can achieve their academic goals, find their confidence, and pave a path to success.
Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA) follows federal and state guidelines in providing a free and appropriate education (FAPE) to students eligible for special education services under the supervision of WIVA's special education department. The state special educationo manual serves as a basis for policies and procedures for the special education department.
Becky Eberhardt | Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance Act Coordinator & Special Programs Manager
Miriam Mueller-Owens | English Language Learners (ELL) Coordinator
Andrea Schmidt | Section 504 Coordinator
We're in this together
WIVA's Special Education Department is led by the special education manager and supported by the K12 regional and national special programs managers.
Because WIVA is a virtual learning environment, special educational services and support are provided through:
- Online meeting rooms
- Phone meetings
- Electronic communications
For this online educational experience to succeed, continual communication among WIVA teachers and staff, parents/Learning Coaches, and students is key.
WIVA provides the supports needed to afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, including:
- Counseling services
- Health services
- Recreational activities
- Special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the school district
- Referrals to agencies that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities
- Employment of students, including employment by the school district and assistance in making outside employment available
Request for Parent/Legal Guardian Interpreter Services or Disability Accommodations
Professional interpreter services and/or disability accommodations may be requested at any time for parents/legal guardians by contacting Miriam Mueller-Owens, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, if any parent/legal guardian has a disability or other limitation that would impact their ability to participate fully in their child's educational planning process, WIVA would be happy to discuss accommodations that may be available in order to maximize the parent/legal guardian's participation. Individuals seeking to discuss accommodations for this reason may contact Miriam Mueller-Owens, email@example.com.
In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirement that all educational agencies provide parents of students with disabilities notice containing a full explanation of the procedural safeguards available under the IDEA and U.S. Department of Education regulations, please review the Procedural Safeguards Notice.
Annual Public Notice of Special Services and Programs
In accordance with federal and state regulations, WIVA will provide an annual public notice to families informing them of WIVA's child find responsibilities, procedures involved in the identification of educational disabilities, and determination of students' service and support needs. Information regarding WIVA's internal practices to comply with these will be available in the WIVA Special Programs Manuals and Handbooks.
WIVA strives to identify, locate, and evaluate all enrolled children who may have disabilities. Disability, as stated in IDEA, includes such conditions as hearing, visual, speech, or language impairment, specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, cognitive disability, other health or physical impairment, autism, and traumatic brain injury. The process of identifying, locating, and evaluating these children is referred to as Child Find.
As a public school, WIVA will respond vigorously to federal and state mandates requiring the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) regardless of a child's disability or the severity of the disability. In order to comply with the Child Find requirements, WIVA will implement procedures to help ensure that all WIVA students with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disability, who are in need of special education and related services—are identified, located, and evaluated—including students with disabilities who are homeless or students who are wards of the state.
Parent/legal guardian permission and involvement is a vital piece in the process. Once a student has been identified as having a "suspected disability" or identified as having a disability, WIVA will ask the student or the student's parent/legal guardian for information about the child such as:
- How has the suspected disability or identified disability hindered the student's learning?
- What has been done educationally to intervene and correct the student's emerging learning deficits?
- What educational or medical information relative to the suspected disability or identified disability is available to be shared with the school?
This information may be also be obtained from the student's present or former teachers, therapists, doctors, or from other agencies that have information about the student.
All information collected will be held in strict confidence and released to others only with parental permission or as allowed by law. In keeping with this confidence, WIVA will keep a record of all persons who review confidential information. In accordance with state regulations, parents have the right to review their child's records.
As part of the Child Find process, some services may include a complete evaluation, an individualized education program designed specifically for the child, and a referral to other agencies providing special services.
WIVA cannot proceed with an evaluation, or with the initial provision of special education and related services, without the written consent of a student's parents/legal guardians. For additional information related to consent, please refer to the Procedural Safeguards Notice. Once written parental/legal guardian consent is obtained, WIVA will proceed with the evaluation process. If the parent disagrees with the evaluation results, the parent can request an independent education evaluation at public expense.
Special Education (IEP) or Service Agreements (504 Plans)
Once the evaluation process is completed, a team of qualified school personnel, parents/legal guardians, and other relevant service providers hold an evaluation determination meeting to come to agreement on whether the student meets eligibility for one of the disability categories under IDEA. Check out information related to eligibility criteria associated with the disability categories defined under IDEA. If the student is eligible and requires specially designed instruction, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be coordinated, during which the IEP team will review and finalize the proposed details of an appropriate educational program to meet the student's documented needs.
For students confirmed to present with special education needs, once the IEP team agrees on the IEP and the student's educational placement, a Prior Written Notice (PWN) will be sent to the parent/legal guardian for signature. This must be signed and returned to WIVA. WIVA can only proceed with implementing the student's IEP (or 504 Plan) upon receipt of the signed PWN. Some students are found to present with one or more disability but do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined under IDEA (special education); however, their disability may still require WIVA to develop a 504 Service Agreement (504 Plan) to outline the special provisions a student may require for adaptations and/or accommodations in school-based instruction, facilities, and/or activities.
Students may be eligible to certain accommodations or services if they have a mental or physical disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program and otherwise qualify under the applicable laws. WIVA will ensure that qualified students with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in the school program and activities to the maximum extent appropriate for each individual student. In compliance with applicable state and federal laws, WIVA will provide students with disabilities the necessary educational services and supports they require to access and benefit from their educational program. This is to be done without discrimination or out-of-pocket cost to the student or family for the essential supplementary aids, services or accommodations determined to provide equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student's abilities and to the extent required by the laws. Learn more about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Parents/legal guardians have the right to revoke consent for services after initial placement. Please note, a revocation of consent removes the student from ALL special services and supports outlined on the IEP or 504 Plan.
Privacy and Confidentiality
To maintain privacy of students' special education records, both within its central office and across school systems and databases, WIVA follows protocols consistent with the federal regulations associated with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Learn more about the privacy and security guidelines for your child's educational records.
Notice of these rights is available, upon request, on audiotape, in Braille, and in languages other than English. Should you need further assistance or information regarding any of these accommodations, please contact Miriam Mueller-Owens, firstname.lastname@example.org or any member of your child's WIVA team for guidance.
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Special Education Grievances or Disputes
WIVA recognizes that despite the best intentions of all parties, disagreements or miscommunications may arise between the school-based team and WIVA families or students. Should this situation occur, the WIVA special education case manager will initiate an IEP team discussion where the specific details contributing to any educational concern are fully discussed and addressed as the entire team determines would consider most appropriate for the student. Collaboration is a primary focus for this type of meeting, and the WIVA Special Education Team seeks to establish and maintain the confidence of its families to always serve its students in order to maximize their educational success.
Dispute Resolution Options
IEP Facilitation—IEP facilitation is a voluntary process that can be utilized when all parties to an IEP meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would help facilitate communication and the successful drafting of the student's IEP. This process is not necessary for most IEP meetings. Rather, it is most often utilized when there is a sense from any of the participants that the issues at the IEP meeting are creating an impasse or acrimonious climate.
Mediation—A voluntary process in which both parties seek to resolve the issues involved in the concern with an unbiased, third party mediator from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The mediator who will write up the details of the agreement that the parties come to through the mediation conference, the agreement is signed by both parties, and thus what the document states is mandated to be implemented; This process is overall less time-consuming, less stressful, and less expensive to complete than a due process hearing (see below).
Formal Dispute Resolution—Families are NOT obligated to pursue the above alternatives to due process should they feel their concerns can only be resolved through a formal due process hearing if a formal complaint against WIVA is submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.