Special Programs & Services News

February 2021

Message from the Team:

In this month’s newsletter, I'd like to highlight just a few things that I love about serving in Special Programs!

STUDENTS: Our students are incredible…from academics, fine arts, serving in the community and extra curricular activities, I enjoy watching them shine. Our students are engaged learners that strive to reach their goals and are collaborative problem solvers. They truly are a joy to serve and they make each day the best!

STAFF: Our amazing staff works hard each day to meet the needs and challenge each and every student to achieve success. The amount of time and heart that goes into planning meaningful instruction and building positive relationships is truly appreciated.

FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY: Our LISD community is supportive, partners with our educators and values high levels of learning. I would like to send a heart-felt thanks to you for trusting us as we work together to help each child exceed their dreams.

We have the best students, staff and community and I love being a part of #1LISD!

Kimberly Waltmon

Exec. Director, Special Programs & Services

February Parent Education Nights

Special Programs & Services have upcoming Parent Education Nights for the month of February! Come learn with us! Please check your Remind accounts for invitations and RSVPs.

Feb 4th - Autism Family Support Group

Feb 9th - Parent Education Night - ARD 102

Feb 11th - Medically Fragile Support Group

Feb 17th - Transition to Adulthood - Texas Workforce

Feb 18th - AAC Family Chat

Feb 23rd - Parent Education Night - Coping with Changes

Feb 24th - Autism Parent Q&A

Child Find

The purpose of Child Find is to locate, identify and evaluate children from birth to 21 years of age for their possible need for special education and related services. Child Find is a free referral and information service available through local education agencies and Service Center Region XIII. Referrals can be initiated by parents, educators, physicians, and outside agencies (ex. therapists, ECI, etc.). Once the referral has been initiated, Child Find or LISD staff meet with the family and have an evaluation scheduled. Following the evaluation, the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee will meet to determine if special education services are needed for the student. At that time, appropriate placement and service decisions will be determined for the student. Take a look at the Child Find section of the Special Programs website to learn more.

If you are concerned your child may be learning, playing or interacting differently from others, please call our office at 512-570-0350 or email Child.Find@leanderisd.org.

Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES)

Texas Education Agency (TEA) is offering Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) to parents of eligible students with significant and complex disabilities who have been impacted by COVID-19 school closures. SSES credits are distributed through online accounts that are used to obtain special educational resources, supplies, and services such as additional speech therapy or other specific services through a marketplace. SSES credits can amount up to $1,500 per student to be used to supplement what otherwise happens in school to help students continue to make educational progress. The SSES program has specific eligibility criteria. Take a moment to read more about the program and review eligibility criteria.

Tips from Our Speech Pathology Team

Are you looking for motivating ways to get your older children engaged in conversation? Try using these 1- to 2-minute video shorts! Most are wordless videos that present a problem and a solution. They are highly engaging and can be used for cause/effect, making predictions, retelling a story, or even for a brain break after a harder task. Here's a website that lists several with a short description of each!

Here are some questions you can ask after viewing the shorts/ to start the conversation:

  • Pause the video mid-way: What do you think will happen next?

  • Tell me what happened at the beginning, middle and end of the video?

  • What made you laugh, concerned or wonder during the video?

  • What was the problem and solution in the video?

  • If you were the director, how would you change the ending?

Self Determination

Self-Determination is making decisions and choices regarding one’s quality of life free from undue external influence of interference. Students who are self-determined are able to make choices and decisions as needed, have some personal control over actions, and understand the effects of their actions. Students can develop self-determination skills by learning problem solving and decision making, self-advocacy, self-regulation, goal setting and attainment, and self-management.

Each month, Leander ISD Special Programs highlights one skill of Self-Determination with all of the teachers and staff so that they emphasize this skill with students with purpose and in the context of what students are learning. In sharing this concept with parents, we know that you will have many opportunities to emphasize these skills at home.

In the month of February, we are focusing on Choice Making. Choice Making emphasizes the importance of helping students to identify why they make choices and the consequences of allowing others to choose for them. As students learn to voice their likes, dislikes and consider “What are my choices?”, they continue their growth into self-determined people. To learn more about this month's Self-Determination focus, explore Self-Determination and our Self-Determination Skills of the Month on our Special Programs website.


As we near the start of the Spring state assessment testing windows, we would like to ensure that all families are aware of upcoming changes to STAAR testing. The Texas Education Agency has communicated that All STAAR testing will be administered online by Spring 2022 (not including STAAR-Alt 2). In light of this change, we have the opportunity to begin trialing online testing this year. Although it is not required for 2020-2021, shifting a student from paper to online testing this year may help to prepare a student for online testing next year. However, Leander ISD will continue to partner with parents to consider the individual needs of our students during this year's STAAR testing season. If your child is currently planning to take a paper version of STAAR, we are encouraging you to reach out to your child's Tracking Teacher to discuss what the most appropriate method of delivery would be for your student and to discuss any questions you may have about state assessments. Lastly, TEA has released that all STARR testing this year will be completed in-person only. Please reach out to your campus testing coordinator with any questions.

For students taking STAAR ALT 2, please know that this test format is paper/hands-on only. The testing window is March 29-May 7. Students will be assessed in person only. For students attending school virtually, Special Education Tracking Teachers will contact Parent/Guardians to schedule their assessment within the window. Additional information about STAAR ALT is available at this website.

VI Support Group

For families or teachers of students with visual impairments/certified orientation and mobility (COM) Specialist of students with visual impairments in grades 9-11, your teen is invited to join the Texas Teen Tele-Support Group for students with low vision or blindness. The Texas Teen Tele-Support will provide a virtual community for students with visual impairments in grades 9-11 to be able to connect with their peers and express themselves. This group of Austin area students will be facilitated by Leander ISD’s own Kallie Kirkland, CTVI, M. Ed. The Texas Teen Tele-Support Group will meet bi-monthly on Tuesday afternoons at 5pm CST. Their first meeting will take place on February 9, 2021. If interested, please complete the Texas Teen Tele-Support Group Permission Form and return it to Kallie Kirkland at vitexasteens@gmail.com. Please also send any questions or inquiries to this email address.

Parent Education Programming Feedback

We are continuing to seek your feedback on the quality of our parent education programming. We want to get your input on topics for presentations and the timing of sessions to reach as many families as possible. Please take a moment to complete this survey. It should take no more than 5 minutes.