The EC department believes that every child deserves to receive personalized, engaging, and individualized education designed to maximize educational and functional outcomes. We are dedicated to providing quality specialized instruction to all students with disabilities while maintaining the overall mission of Extraordinary Education Every Day. We accomplish this by collaborating, supporting, and providing resources to teachers and students for the provision of a free appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Moreover, by communicating and collaborating with all stakeholders to include those within the district as well as the community - both families and agencies - we strengthen the likelihood of our students' success.
Dr. Elizabeth Mitcham Ed.D.
- Compliance Specialist
- EC School Program Specialists
- EC Specialists
- EC Behavior Team
- EC Preschool Support Staff
- School Psychologists
- Related Services Staff
- Other Staff
EC Program Specialists work collaboratively with school-based administration, regular and exceptional educators, families, and community partners to ensure all students with disabilities have access to high quality, individualized instructional programming that is implemented in a manner consistent with the North Carolina Policies Governing Programs for Children with Disabilities. Their roles are multi-faceted and tailored to the unique needs of the buildings, staff, and students they support.
The EC Specialists have a high level of knowledge and training in evidence-based strategies and instructional methodologies/practices that have proven effective in meeting the needs of students with disabilities. They collaborate with school-based administrators and regular and exceptional educators to provide coaching, support, and training to individuals and/or school-based teams. Ultimately, they are responsible for ensuring the effective implementation of evidenced-based programming that results in positive functional and educational outcomes for students with disabilities.
Specially Designed Instruction Coaches
LeeAnn Barnhardt- OCS
Mary Jo Gouge- Elementary
Kelly Incardona- Elementary
Coming Soon- ECS
Pamela DeGraffenreid- Secondary
The district's EC Behavior Support Specialists have knowledge and skills necessary to assist individuals, groups and systems through the application of positive behavior interventions and supports for the purpose of improving students' functional and educational outcomes. They oftentimes work individually and/or in small groups with students who are demonstrating behaviors to such a rate, frequency, or degree that prevent them from accessing the general curriculum. They may assist school teams with completing Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and implementing Behavior Intervention Plan (BIPs) that address students’ behaviors of concern. They are available to consult with school-based administrative teams, parents/guardians, and educators.
New- Coming Soon
Itinerant Transition Support Technicians
Rowan-Salisbury Schools Preschool Evaluation Team locates, evaluates, and identifies children aged 3-5 with delays in their development. Our team offers a variety of screenings and evaluations at no cost to families who reside within our local education agency to determine if a child needs special education services. If a need for special education is determined, an individualized education program (IEP) will be created with the family outlining services for preschoolers to be successful within their educational environment. Specialized instruction is offered on a continuum based on the individual needs of each child and includes itinerant services, blended classrooms, and school-based programs.
If you know of a child who resides in Rowan County who may have a suspected disability, please notify our office by downloading and filling out this form:
Once complete, the form can be electronically completed and e-mailed to any of our staff members. The notification form can also be completed and faxed to our department at 704-279-0809. Once the notification is received, a team member will notify the family as soon as possible.
Preschool Itinerant Teachers
Pre-K Assessment Team
Autumn Taylor, School Psychologist
Karlie Rinere, Occupational Therapist
Liz Augenrich, Speech-Language Pathologist
Are you looking for child care?
Do you need help regarding a child who is younger than age 3?
Has your child already been diagnosed with an educational disability?
School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students' ability to learn and teachers' ability to teach. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. School psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community.
School psychologists receive specialized advanced graduate preparation that includes coursework and practical experiences relevant to both psychology and education. School psychologists typically complete either a specialist-level degree program (at least 60 graduate semester hours) or a doctoral degree (at least 90 graduate semester hours), both of which include a year-long 1200 hour supervised internship. Graduate preparation develops knowledge and skills in:
- Data collection and analysis
- Progress monitoring
- School-wide practices to promote learning
- Resilience and risk factors
- Consultation and collaboration
- Academic/learning interventions
- Mental health interventions
- Behavioral interventions
- Instructional support
- Prevention and intervention services
- Special education services
- Crisis preparedness, response, and recovery
- Family-school-community collaboration
- Diversity in development and learning
- Research and program evaluation
- Professional ethics, school law, and systems
School psychologists must be credentialed by the state in which they work. They also may be nationally certified by the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB).
School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students, consult with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals (i.e., school counselors, school social workers) to improve support strategies, work with school administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services.
Autumn Taylor - Lead Psychologist
Karlie Rinere, Lead Occupational Therapist
Susan Brady, Occupational Therapist
Sue Allegro, Occupational Therapist
Jenny Quantz, Occupational Therapist
Kerry MacDonald, Occupational Therapist
Kelly Gianopoulos, Occupational Therapist
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants
COMING SOON - Teacher of the Hearing Impaired
Ian Smith- Orientation & Mobility Specialist
Brenda Stevens - Teacher of the Visually Impaired
Brad Burk & Roger Morris- Adapted PE Teachers
Andrew Lewis, Assistive Technology Lead
Norellies Molina- Spanish Language Interpreter
Rachel Randall- Audiologist
Rowan-Salisbury Schools has procedures in place to ensure that the district identifies, locates, and evaluates all children residing in the county with suspected disabilities who may be in need of special education and related services. This includes all children ages 3 to 21 who
- attend public or private schools;
- are home schooled;
- are advancing from grade to grade; and/or
- are homeless, wards of the state, or highly mobile (migrant) children.
Child find activities implemented in RSS include screening and general education intervention.
A screening process, which may lead to a more comprehensive assessment for children ages 3 through 5, is provided through the system's Preschool Exceptional Children's program, which is located at Granite Quarry Elementary School. Parents can obtain additional information about this process by contacting Amy Davis, Preschool Coordinator.
A general education intervention process for children in kindergarten through grade 12 is provided at each school site via individual problem solving teams. These teams work on behalf of children who are experiencing academic, behavior/emotional, functional, or medical concerns that may be significantly impacting their access to the general curriculum or school activities. These teams work with families and school staff to develop plans that support students' needs so that they can be successful in the general education curriculum and school setting. While working with students, the teams collect data which is then used to determine if a student may need to be referred for a comprehensive evaluation.
Parents who suspect that their child has a disability may request to have their child evaluated. If the parent has difficulty placing their request in writing, school staff may assist. Upon making a request for an evaluation, an IEP team needs to convene to review the request and make a determination with regard to whether an evaluation is warranted based on a review of existing data.
In the event the district is notified that a child is a student with a suspected disability, the district is obligated to respond within 30 days. In RSSS this response will include convening an IEP team to complete a DEC1/Special Education referral meeting for the student, at which time all existing data will be reviewed to make a one of the following determinations: 1) whether to determine eligibility based solely on existing data; 2) conduct an evaluation; or 3) no evaluation will be conducted based on the review of existing information. The special education process ceases.
Eligibility for exceptional children services is determined by an IEP team, which includes the parent(s), after a review of all existing data to include the results of any evaluations.
Autism (AU): Means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, which adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements, restricted interests, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
Deaf-Blindness (DB): Means hearing and visual impairments that occur together, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.
Deafness (DF): Means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, and that adversely affects the child's educational performance.
Developmentally Delayed (DD): Means a child aged three through seven whose development and/or behaviors is delayed or atypical, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development, and who, by reason of the delay, needs special education and related services.
Emotional Disturbance (ED): Means 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: (a) an inability to make educational progress that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; (b) an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; (c) inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; (d) a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; (e) a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. Serious emotional disability includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.
Hearing Impairment (HI): Means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness.
Intellectual Disability (ID): Means significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning that adversely affects a child's educational performance existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the development period that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term "intellectual disability" was formerly termed "mental retardation."
Multiple Disabilities (MU): Means two or more disabilities occurring together (such as intellectual disability - blindness, intellectual disability - orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness.
Orthopedic Impairment (OI): Means a severe physical impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, 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, etc.).
Other Health Impairment (OHI): Means having 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, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette's Syndrome, etc.; and that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
Specific Learning Disability (SLD): Means 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 the impaired ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Disorders not included: Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the results of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, of serious emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Speech or Language Impairment (SLI): A communication disorder, such as an impairment in fluency, articulation, language, or voice/resonance, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Language may include function of language (pragmatic), the content of language (semantic), and the form of language (phonologic, morphologic, and syntactic systems). A speech or language impairment may result in a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or by an internal occurrence resulting in total or partial functional disability and/or psychosocial impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Causes may include but are not limited to, open or closed head injuries, cerebrovascular accidents (e.g., stroke, aneurysm), infections, kidney or heart failure, electric shock, anoxia, tumors, metabolic disorders, toxic substances, or medical or surgical treatments. The brain injury can occur in a single event or can result from a series of events (e.g., multiple concussions). Traumatic brain injury also can occur with or without a loss of consciousness at the time of injury. Traumatic brain injury may result in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative but can include brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
Visual Impairment (VI): Means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
The district strives to serve all students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. IEP teams, of which parents are a member, are ultimately responsible for making decisions regarding service delivery, to include frequency and location, after reviewing all existing student data. For most students with disabilities, their needs can be met in the regular education program with accommodations and supplementary aids and services. Yet, there will be students who require more intensive services to address their unique personal and educational needs. The continuum of alternative placements includes access to the following:
- Regular Setting - Students with disabilities who receive the majority of their education program, 80% or more of the day, with non-disabled peers.
- Resource Setting - Students with disabilities who spend 40% -79% of the day with non-disabled peers.
- Separate Setting - Students with disabilities who spend 39% or less of the day with non-disabled peers.
- Home/Hospital - Students with disabilities have the opportunity to receive short term educational services in the home or a designated location. Home/Hospital education services are temporary with the goal of providing support until the student can successfully return to school. Home/Hospital instruction does NOT duplicate classroom instruction. Home/Hospital service delivery is determined by the IEP team on the basis of:
- Documented medical issues;
- Documented behavioral issues;
- As a result of a long term suspension.
- At times other options on the continuum may be applicable to include residential treatment and separate school.
The majority of students with disabilities are instructed in the general curriculum with their non-disabled peers. Students in the general curriculum follow the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.
Students following the Occupational Course of Study (OCS), or Occupational Pathway, are considered to be following the general curriculum. The Occupational Pathway is available for those students who are functioning significantly below age and grade level expectations. It includes requirements that are intended to build work ready and community college ready skills. Students completing the OCS program earn a diploma.
A very small percentage of students have significant cognitive disabilities and participate in the North Carolina Extended Content Standards. This course of study was developed based on the grade level standards of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, with additional emphasis on functional skills and objectives. Students following this course of study are assessed using the NC EXTEND1 alternate assessment. To determine participation in any of the NCEXTEND1 alternate assessments, the following eligibility requirements must be met:
- The student must have a current IEP.
- The student is enrolled in grades 3–8, 10, or 11, according to PowerSchool. Note: Only those students enrolled in 11th grade for the first time are required to take the NCEXTEND1 alternate assessment at grade 11.
- The student is instructed using the North Carolina Extended Content Standards in all assessed content areas (i.e., English Language Arts/Reading, Mathematics, and Science).
- The student has a significant cognitive disability.
- The student’s disability significantly impacts adaptive behaviors, defined as those skills which are essential for someone to live and function independently.
- The student requires extensive and repeated individualized instruction and support to make meaningful gains.
- The student uses substantially adapted materials and individualized methods of accessing information in alternative ways.
Students following this course of study receive a Graduation Certificate rather than a high school diploma at the time of high school exit.
Related services are supportive services that an eligible student with a disability requires to benefit from special education. The IEP team determines the need for related services in the educational setting. Eligibility for special education services does not automatically entitle a student to related services.
Common related services include, but are not limited to:
- Occupational Therapy
- orientation and mobility
- Physical Therapy
- Speech Language Pathology Services
Occupational therapy means-
Student centered continuum of services provided by a licensed occupational therapist or a licensed and supervised occupational therapy assistant. These services assist a student to engage in meaningful and/or necessary occupations that allow a student to participate in and benefit from special education. These occupations may include student role/interaction skills, learning academics and process skills, personal care, play and recreation, written communication, and community integration and work. Occupational therapy services may include: (i) Screening, evaluation, intervention, and documentation; (ii) Assistance with occupational performance when impaired or lost; (iii) Modification of environments (both human and physical) and tasks, and selection, design, and fabrication of assistive devices and other assistive technology to facilitate development, promote the acquisition of functional skills, and engagement in meaningful occupations; (iv) Integration of occupational therapy interventions into a student’s educational program to assist the student in participation and acquisition of goals; (v) Collaboration with appropriate individuals to meet student’s needs including transition planning; and (vi) Provide education and information to families and school personnel to assist with planning and problem solving.
Orientation and mobility services -
(i) Means services provided to children with blindness or visual impairment by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community; and (ii) Includes teaching students the following, as appropriate: (A) Spatial and environmental concepts and use of information received by the senses (such as sound, temperature and vibrations) to establish, maintain, or regain orientation and line of travel (e.g., using sound at a traffic light to cross the street); (B) To use the long cane or a service animal to supplement visual travel skills or as a tool for safely negotiating the environment for students with no available travel vision; (C) To understand and use remaining vision and distance low vision aids; and (D) Other concepts, techniques, and tools.
Physical therapy means -
a continuum of services provided by a licensed physical therapist or a licensed and supervised physical therapy assistant. School-based physical therapy services are provided to develop and maintain performance levels, within an individual student’s physical capabilities, for independent and safe access to educationally related activities. School based physical therapy is a related service, and is provided only as required to assist a child to benefit from special education. Physical therapy services may include: (i) Development and maintenance of student’s functional ability to participate in and benefit from his/her special education program; (ii) Modification and adaptation of the student’s physical environment; (iii) Provision of training for school personnel; (iv) Communication and/or education of the student’s teachers and family; (v) Communication with state and community agencies; and (vi) Involvement in total program planning for children with disabilities, including transition planning.
Speech-language pathology services includes -
(i) Identification of children with speech or language impairments; (ii) Diagnosis and appraisal of specific speech or language impairments; (iii) Referral for medical or other professional attention necessary for the habilitation of speech or language impairments; (iv) Provision of speech and language services for the habilitation of communication impairments, including form, content, and function of language; and (v) Counseling and guidance of parents, children, and teachers regarding speech and language impairments.
- RSSS EC Department Parent Newsletters
- Handbook of Parent's Rights
- Medicaid Information
- Local and State Resources
- Additional Information
- Information for Families of Parentally Placed Private School Students
- Arc of North Carolina
- Autism Society of North Carolina
- Disability Rights of North Carolina
- Exceptional Children's Assistance Center
- Family Support Network of North Carolina
- North Carolina Post Secondary Education Alliance
- North Carolina Special Olympics
- National Down Syndrome Society
- NCDPI - EC Division
- RSSS EC Department Parent Newsletters
- NCDPI Policies and Procedures
- Professional Organizations and Resources
- Interventions and Data Collection