Special Programs Resources

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 education 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

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
  • Athletics
  • Transportation
  • 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

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.

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.


Translation Needs

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.

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).