Exceptional Student Education

It is the mission of the Exceptional Student Education Department to ensure that schools provide opportunities and programs that encourage students to develop academic and social skills commensurate with their abilities in the least restrictive environment.  The commitment of the ESE Department is to assist all school personnel, families, and community stakeholders in the appropriate and timely identification, placement, and programming for exceptional students.  It is recognized that parent training, community awareness, and services to families are essential to student success.  This website is designed to give you an overview of the ESE Department of Taylor County Schools and provide links to agencies, services, and information that may be of value in providing for the needs of students in Taylor County.

Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and then it was signed into law on December 10, 2015, amending the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. ESSA increases state authority on standards, assessments and interventions, and adds specific restrictions to the United States Secretary of Education involvement in state decisions. To stay abreast of the changes in education that are related to ESSA, please check the following link:  http://www.fldoe.org/academics/essa.stml



Contact Information for the District Exceptional Student Education Office, located in the Wentworth Administrative Complex.

318 North Clark Street, Perry, FL  32347              Phone: 850-838-2500 option 2          Fax: 850-838-2537                   

Office Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Additional Information and Resources

District Contacts

Mrs. Sabrina Bethea
Ms. Betsy Stephens
Ms. Melissa Smigiel
Ms. Charlotte Ellison 
Supervisor of ESE and Student Services
Parent Services and Child Find Specialist
Compliance Secretary
Administrative Secretary
850-838-2500 option 2
850-838-2500 option 2
850-838-2500 option 2
850-838-2500 option 2

School Contacts

Mr. William Tripp
Ms. Leslie Maiullo
Taylor County High School
Taylor County Middle School
Ms. Kamryn Sands
Mrs. Tracy Hall
Ms. Marsha Merchant
Taylor County Elementary School
Taylor County Primary School
Steinhatchee School

What is Exceptional Student Education (ESE)?

Exceptional Student Education is specially designed instruction and related services for those students that have been identified as having a disability.  For more information about Exceptional Student Education please click on the links below.

1.  What is Exceptional Student Education for Students with Disabilities

2.  What is Exceptional Student Education for Students with Disabilities  (Spanish)
      Conseguir lo que es excepcional estudiante educación para estudiantes con discapacidades

3. A Parent's Introduction to Exceptional Student Education in Florida

4.  A Parent's Introduction to Exceptional Student Education in Florida  (Spanish)
      Introducción de los padres a la educación de estudiantes excepcionales en Florida

What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child's individual needs.  For more information about an IEP please click on the links below.

1.  Getting Ready for Your Child's IEP

2.  Getting Ready for Your Child's IEP (spanish)
      Preparándose para su hijo IEP

3.  A Parent's Introduction to Exceptional Student Education in Florida  (See Chapter 5)

4.  A Parent's Introduction to Exceptional Student Education in Florida  (Spanish - See Chapter 5)
      Introducción de los padres a la educación de estudiantes excepcionales en Florida (capítulo 5)

5.  Accommodations: Assisting Students with Disabilities (2018)

6.  Accommodations for Florida's Statewide Student Assessments

7.  Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Disabilities in Career Education and Adult General Education

8.  Testing Accommadations - Americans with Disabilities Act Information

9.  Facilitated IEP Video for Parents This exciting new video (available with English and Spanish subtitles) introduces the facilitated IEP process to parents in order to encourage IEP team resolution.  Watch the video to lean more about the process and how you and your child's IEP team can work together, in the best interst of your child, to resolve concerns or disagreements and move forward. 

The Individual Educational Plan (IEP) is the primary vehicle for communicating the school district’s commitment to addressing the unique educational needs of a student with a disability.  Although rules and regulations governing this commitment may be complex, the purpose is straightforward and clear.  The IEP must reveal a consideration of the strengths of the student; parents concerns for the child’s education; results of the most recent evaluation; results of statewide and districtwide assessments, the student’s academic, developmental and functional needs and how all these factors considered together to affect the student’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum.

To gain a fuller understanding of the general curriculum courses, please visit the following website:

1.  Cpalms

Procedural Safeguards and Grievances

As a parent, you are entitled to information about your rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These rights, or procedural safeguards, are intended to ensure that you have the opportunity to be a partner in the educational decisions made regarding your child.  Please use the links below to learn more about your procedural safeguards.

1.  Procedural Safeguards for Parents of Students with Disabilities

2.  Aviso de Salvaguardas Procedimentales para Padres de Estudiantes con Discapacidades (Spanish)

3.  Procedural Safeguards for Exceptional Students Who are Gifted

4. Salvaguardas Procedimentales para Estudiantes Excepcionales Superdotados (Spanish)

The Florida Department of Education is promoting Facilitated IEP's to help parents work with the IEP team to reach a team resolutions.  Please consider taking a look at the two links below if you are interested in this process.

1. Facilitated IEP Video for Parents This exciting new video (available with English and Spanish subtitles) introduces the facilitated IEP process to parents in order to encourage IEP team resolution.  Watch the video to lean more about the process and how you and your child's IEP team can work together, in the best interst of your child, to resolve concerns or disagreements and move forward.  

As a parent part of your procedural rights is the ability to file a grievance with the district and state if you believe your child's educational rights have been violated.  A link has been provided to the Florida DOE website so you can access this form.

Self Advocacy and Self Determination

Self-advocacy refers to an individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or her own interests, desires, needs, and rights. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions. To be a successful self-advocate, an individual must understand personal strengths and needs, identify personal goals, know legal rights and responsibilities and communicate these to others.

Self advocacy and self determination skills are important sills for students with disabilities to develop.  With these skills the student is able to determine and apply skills in school, home, community and work.  These skills will assist students in achieving their school and post-school outcomes.  For further information, please refer to these website: 

1.  Project 10

2.  I'm Determined

Transition Services

The Individual Educational Plan (IEP) will become a plan that will help a student with disabilities move from school to adult life.

Transition planning focuses on plans and dreams you and your young person have for the future.  The purpose of transition planning is to provide your young person with the services and the supports he or she needs to make a successful move into adult life.

Transition planning usually begins at age 14.  However, it may begin before age 14 for some students.  For example, earlier transition planning may help stop a student from dropping out of school.  Earlier transition planning may also be needed for a student with significant disabilities because it may take more time to set up needed post-school services.

It is important to note that:

  • Transition planning begins with the individual educational plan (IEP) to be in effect when the student turns age 14 for students with an IEP.
  • Transition services are a part of the IEP, not a separate plan.
  • Transition planning involves the student, the family, school staff, agency staff, and others identified by the IEP team.
  • Transition planning is not a one-time event.
  • The transition process continues until the student exits from high school.

Below are some links to help you with transition:

1.  Transition Guide for Families

2.  Florida DOE Vocational Rehabilitation

3.  Project 10

4.  Graduation Requirements for all Students  When the new Window opens please click on the Student Progression Plan Folder and then click on the plan.

5.  Current Graduation Requirements - Florida Department of Education

ESE SP & P (Policies and Procedures)

Florida Statutes requires that district school boards submit to the Department of Education (DOE) proposed procedures for the provision of special instruction and services for exceptional students once every three years.  This document also serves as the basis for the identification, evaluation, eligibility determination, and placement of students to receive exceptional education services.

To view Taylor County's SP&P click on the link provided below or you can download the document .  

Taylor County SP & P

McKay Scholarship

Florida's school choice programs ensure that no child will be left behind by allowing parents to choose the best educational setting—public or private—for their child. The McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program provided over 26,000 Florida students with special needs the opportunity to attend a participating private school. The McKay Scholarship Program also offers parents public school choice.

In order to learn more about the McKay Scholarship Program please use the following link:

1.  Florida DOE McKay Scholarship Website

Child Find & Parent Services

Child Find

Child Find conducts screening in areas of communication, motor, development, vision, hearing, and school readiness skills. In this way problems may be detected early. Early intervention is essential!

Child Find assists in placing children with special needs in appropriate exceptional education programs.

Child Find provides information about programs available within the community for children with special needs. For a free child find screening or additional information please contact BETSY STEPHENS CHILD FIND/PARENT SPECIALIST 850-838-2536 Taylor County Exceptional Student Education.

For more information about CHILD FIND please use the following link.


Parent Services

The Taylor County School District Exceptional Student Education Office provides parent services in the areas of resources and referral, workshops, parent meetings as well as other areas. Parents are offered various resources regarding a wide range of topics and are also given information for resources that may be needed. For further information please contact BETSY STEPHENS CHILD FIND/PARENT SPECIALIST 850-838-2536 Taylor County Exceptional Student Education.

Occupational Therapy Services

What is school based Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a related service provided to students who need improvement in functioning in the educational environment. Occupational therapy includes improving, developing or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury or deprivation. The service improves ability to perform tasks for independent functioning when functions are impaired or lost. Occupational therapy also helps to prevent, through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function.

The functional skills, which a student needs to perform in the educational setting, are dependent upon a variety of factors, including the student’s:

  • educational program
  • present level of function
  • diagnosis
  • overall developmental, cognitive and academic abilities

What are the skill areas addressed by Occupational Therapy?

  • Environmental/ Classroom Modifications - Student may need enhancement to learning by adapting classroom strategies/educational environment. Includes desk/chair adapation, visual aides, adaptive devices for written communication,etc.
  • Activities of daily living(ADLs) - Student may need promotion of opportunities and abilities to manage personal needs within the total educational environment. Includes demonstrating appropriate dressing, personal hygiene, oral motor and feeding skills.
  • Mobility - Student may need promotion of freedom of movement within the total educational environment. Includes safety during walking, wheelchair mobility and transferring.
  • Gross Motor Skills - Student may need promotion of basic developmental motor skills, posture and balance needed to function in the total educational environment.  
  • Fine Motor/ Visual Motor - Student may need promotion of opportunities and abilities to manipulate and manage the materials needed within the total educational environment. Includes manipulating toys in the classroom, coloring, handwriting, etc.
  • Sensory Processing - Student may need promotion of positioning, exploration, perception, and interaction with others during play and work activities within the educational environment. Includes ability to make choices, organize, and initiate tasks while filtering out the ordinary auditory and visual distractions experienced in the classroom environment. Children with this deficit may exhibit a auditory, tactile, and visual defensiveness in which training may be performed to adapt or improve his or her sensory awareness. The child may also be hyposensitive in which his or her body is not aware of the sensory information around them. In this case the child would undergo sensory stimulation to increase his response to auditory, visual and tactile activities.


For more information please contact Exceptional Student Education

(850) 838-2500 option 2

Gifted Education

Gifted Education is for those students that have been identified as gifted.  For more information about education for Gifted Students in the state of Florida please use the link below.

1.  Florida DOE Gifted Education

2.  What is Exceptional Student Education for Children who are Gifted

3.  What is Exceptional Student Education for Children who are Gifted (Spanish version)
     Qué es la educación de estudiantes excepcionales para niños(as) superdotados(as)?

Resources (District, State and National)

The Taylor County School Board is providing these resources as a public service.  Please do not assume endorsement of these websites or their services by the Taylor County School Board.



A New Dawn A New Beginning: 850-329-5776 

Apalachee Mental Health Services: 850-584-5613



Disc Village: 850-223-1003



Community Wellness: 850-644-7724

Florida Therapy:  850-878-0494


Big Bend Transit

553 Byron Butler Parkway

Perry, Florida




Florida Department of Education - Exceptional Student Education Department

This department oversees the exceptional student education program in the state of Florida

Florida Department of Education - Alternative Assessment

This Florida DOE website give valuable information about alternative assessment in the state of Florida.

Florida Department of Education - Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Florida DOE website will keep you up to date on ESSA and will provide the latest implementation information.  You can also sign up for email updates.

Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources Center (FDLRS)

FDLRS provides diagnostic and instructional support services for district ESE programs and families of students with exceptionalities.

Institute for Small and Rural Districts

ISRD provides training and technical assistance to support positive outcomes for students with disabilities and their families.

Florida Inclusion Network (FIN)

The Florida Inclusion Network (FIN) collaborates with all districts and schools to provide customized services and supports ensuring all students with disabilities have the same educational, social, and future opportunities as their peers.

FSU Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD)

FSU CARD is dedicated to providing individuals with Autism or related disabilities, their families, and professionals who work with them, free consultation, resources, and educational support to build knowledge, confidence, infrastructure, and sustainability within the community.

FSU Multidisciplinary Center

The Multidisciplinary Center serves pre-school and school-aged children who are experiencing severe and/or complex academic, medical, and/or behavioral/emotional problems.

Vocational Rehabilitation                                                                                                                                  

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program that helps people who have physical or mental disabilities get or keep a job. VR is committed to helping people with disabilities find meaningful careers.

Agency for Persons with Disabilities                                                                                                              

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities supports persons with developmental disabilities in living, learning and working in their communities.

 Access to the Common Core for Exceptional Student Success (ACCESS) Project

The website provides lesson planning, instructional tools and professional development in the Common Core Standards for teachers to support positive outcomes for students with significant cognitive disabilities taking the Florida Alternate Assessment.

Family Café (Cooperation, Advocacy, Friendship, and Empowerment)

The Family Café exists to provide individuals with disabilities and their families with an opportunity for collaboration, advocacy, friendship and empowerment by serving as a facilitator of communication, a space for dialogue and a source of information.

Learning through Listening Project (LtL)

The purpose of this project is to provide digital audio textbooks and equipment to students who cannot read standard print due to visual, perceptual, physical, or learning disabilities. The project also facilitates support services and training to administrators, teachers, parents, and students on the use of this technology provided by Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic).

Multiagency Network for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (SEDNET)

SEDNET is devoted to facilitating the creation of a comprehensive "system of care" for high-risk students and students with emotional/behavioral disabilities and their families.

Resource Materials and Technology Center for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Outreach Services provides support services to school district personnel, parents and families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, or blind or visually impaired. Available support services include training, information, referral services, and student assessments.

Parents of the Panhandle Information Network (POPIN)

POPIN provides information, training, and support to parents of children with disabilities in select isolated, rural areas of Florida.  If you have Facebook you can also search for them on it.

The Center for Parent Information and Resources 

The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) serves as a central resource of information and products to the community of Parent Training Information (PTI) Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), so that they can focus their efforts on serving families of children with disabilities.

Disability Resources

This website's mission is to advance the quality of life, dignity, eqaulity, self determination, and freedom of choice of persons with disabilites through collaboration, education, advocay, as well ass legal and legisaltive strategies.



National Resources for Parents of Children and Youth with Disabilities

This website is a clearinghouse of nationwide resources to assist teachers, parents of students with exceptioanlities. 

Support for Families

This website is a clearinghouse of nationwide resources to assist teachers, parents and students with exceptionalities.

Library of Congress Resources

This website is a clearinghouse of nationwide resources to assist teachers, parents and students with exceptionalities.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

This website is the federal government website about IDEA.

Learning Disabilities of America (LDA)

LDA’s mission is to assist students, parents, educators and professionals with the many needs of a student with learning disabilities.

Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks mission is to assist students, parents and educators with the many needs of a student with Autism.

Family Network on Disabilities

The mission of FND is to strive for the complete integration and equality of persons with disabilities in a society without barriers and to serve families of children with disabilities, ages birth through 26, who have the full range of disabilities.

Director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services: Ms. Sabrina Bethea

Sabrina Bethea is a fifth-generation resident of Taylor County and a product of Taylor County Schools. She graduated from Taylor County High School in 2000. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2003 from Florida State University. She began teaching at Taylor County Elementary in 2004 and continued her education, attending Florida State University where she received her Master’s in Reading and Language Arts Education in 2006. She pursued a second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and received it in 2006. She began teaching fifth grade, all subjects and then taught third grade math and science for five years before becoming the Dean of students in 2009. She served in the role for two years and then became the Assistant Principal and served in that capacity for six years. She was the Principal of Taylor County Elementary from 2016-2019, where the school received its first honor roll grade of a B in ten years. She is now serving as Director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services for Taylor County.  Ms. Bethea is certified in Elementary Education, School Principal, Educational Leadership, and Exceptional Student Education.  

Graduation Requirements and Secondary Transition

Please click on the following link to view graduation requirements for Florida students: Florida Graduation Requirements

Secondary Transition refers to the process in which a student with a disability moves from high school to life after high school whether it be postsecondary education (college, technical school, etc.), employment and independent living.  You can view more information about this using the following link: Secondary Transition