Timely Meaningful Consultation Meeting

Notice of Public Meeting on May 22, 2023, at 3:30 p.m., the Timely and Meaningful Consultation Meeting will be held virtually to discuss the district's plans for providing special education services to students with disabilities who attend private schools and home schools within the district for the 2023-24 school year.  Click here for the Zoom link.



The Special Education Department aims to improve student's educational experiences through collaboration with families, schools, students, and community parents. An array of comprehensive supports are coordinated to support every child's academic, social-emotional, and behavioral success. The Special Education Department encompasses Pre-K, Early Childhood, Special Education, Student Health Services, and a Multi-Tiered Support System.

Preschool for All Program:

Students qualify for the Preschool for All Program by attending Preschool Screenings that occur throughout the school year. Through the screening process, staff can determine if a student is at risk of academic failure and qualifies for the grant-funded Preschool for All Program. All screenings occur at District Office, located at 41 E. Elmwood Dr., Chicago Heights, IL.

2022-2023 Preschool Screening Dates:

August 29, 2022, 8:00-3:00

September 19, 2022, 8:00-3:00 

December 5, 2022, 8:00-3:00 

February 20, 2023, 8:00-3:00

April 24, 2023, 8:00-3:00 

Early Childhood Program

The Early Childhood Program provides specially designed instruction to eligible students ages 3 through 5. Integrated related services are provided by a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist.

Special Education

District 161 provides appropriate and effective educational programs for students with disabilities. Students must meet specific eligibility criteria to identify as a child with a disability. Once a child is eligible, an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is written.

Student Health Services

The District Nurse and School Health Coordinators work closely with families, students, teachers, and administrators to ensure quality, individualized and responsive health services are provided to students.

Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS)

MTSS is a data-driven, problem-solving framework to improve outcomes for all students. MTSS relies on a continuum of evidence-based practices matched to student needs academically and behaviorally. 

504 Information

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Section 504 establishes a student's right to full access and participation in education and all school-related activities and require schools to provide appropriate services to meet the individual needs of qualified students.

A student is considered "qualified" under Section 504 if the student is between the ages of 3 and 22 years of age and has a disability, defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include caring for oneself, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning. Some examples of impairments that may substantially limit major life activities, even with the help of medication, aids, or devices, are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), asthma, allergies, blindness or a visual impairment, deafness or hearing impairment, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, and mental illness.

In addition to providing required services and program modifications, school districts must also have written procedures for administering services under Section 504. These procedural safeguards include notice of the law and its applicability, an opportunity for students and their parents or guardians to examine relevant records, an impartial hearing with the student's parents or guardians and representation by counsel, and a review procedure. The procedural safeguards used to comply with IDEA are one means of meeting this requirement. If a child does not meet the entitlement criteria for IDEA, then a 504 should be considered. 

Jackie Janicke, Director of Special Education