Programs and Services

  • ISD 728 provides a comprehensive array of special education programs for qualified students and offers a variety of services delivery models within our school district. Eligible students receive special education services in the most appropriate setting, ranging from at home for young children to their neighborhood school, or when needed, in specialized placements. The focus for K-12 students is always to serve students in their general education classroom as much as appropriate.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) identifies different disability categories under which students may be eligible for services. For a child to be eligible, the disability must affect his/her educational performance. A child may not be identified as 'disabled' because he/she speaks a language other than English and does not speak or understand English well. Definitions of each disability category are listed below:


    Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) are developmental disabilities that share many of the same characteristics.  Autism and PDD-NOS are usually evident by age three and characteristically affect a child's ability to communicate, understand language, play, and relate to others. *In Minnesota this disability area is referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

    Blind/Visual Impairment

    An impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. The terms partially sighted, low vision, legally blind, and totally blind are used in the educational context to describe students with visual impairments.

    They are defined as follows:

    • Partially sighted indicates some type of visual problem has resulted in a need for special education.
    • Low vision generally refers to a severe visual impairment, not necessarily limited to distance vision. Low vision applies to all individuals with sight who are unable to read the newspaper at a normal viewing distance, even with the aid of eyeglasses or contact lenses. They use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, although they may require adaptations in lighting or the size of print, and, sometimes, braille.
    • Legally blind indicates that a person has less than 20/200 vision in the better eye or a very limited field of vision (20 degrees at its widest point) and
    • Totally blind students learn via braille or other non-visual media.?Visual impairment is the consequence of a functional loss of vision, rather than the eye disorder itself. Eye disorders which can lead to visual impairments can include retinal degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma, muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, corneal disorders, diabetic retinopathy, congenital disorders, and infection.

    Deaf/Hard of Hearing

    The term "hearing impairment" is often used generically to describe a wide range of hearing losses, including deafness. Though the regulations for IDEA define hearing loss and deafness separately. Hearing impairment is defined by IDEA as "an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance." Deafness is defined as "a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification." Thus, deafness may be viewed as a condition that prevents an individual from receiving sound in all or most of its forms. In contrast, a child with a hearing loss can generally respond to auditory stimuli, including speech. *In Minnesota this disability area is referred to as Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH).

    Developmental Cognitive Disorder

    This is marked by significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently [at the same time] with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. *In Minnesota this disability area is referred to as Developmental Cognitive Delay (DCD).

    Developmental Delay 

    A child up to age seven who is experiencing a measurable delay in development according to diagnostic instruments and procedures fits the Developmental Delay (DD) disability category.

    Emotional/Behavioral Disorder

    This is a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance:

    • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
    • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
    • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
    • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
    • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
    *In Minnesota, this disability is referred to as Emotional Behavioral Disorder (EBD).

    Other Health Impairment 

    Children may be served under this category when a health impairment results in limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that 
    • is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia; and
    • adversely affects a child's educational performance.

    Physical Impairment

    This includes a child whose severe orthopedic impairment adversely affects their educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly (e.g. clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g. poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

    Severe Multiple Impairment

    This is marked by simultaneous impairments (such as developmental cognitive disorder-blindness, developmental cognitive disorder-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.

    Specific Learning Disability

    This is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.  the term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; of mental retardation; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

    Speech/Language Impairment

    A communication disorder means a speech or language impairment such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance.  

    Traumatic Brain Injury

    This is an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.  The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psycho-social behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech.  The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth or trauma.

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