skip to main content
What Is Exceptional Student Education for Children with Disabilities?
In Florida, children with disabilities who need specially designed instruction and related services are called exceptional students. The special help they are given at school is called exceptional student education (ESE). The purpose of ESE is to help each child with a disability progress in school and prepare for life after school.

ESE services include specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of the child. ESE services may also include technology devices, therapy, special transportation, or other supports. There is no charge for ESE services. A team of people make decisions about the child’s needs and ESE services. The child’s parents are part of this team. This process is based on the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The main steps in the ESE decision-making process are described below.

Referral for Individual Evaluation: A referral is a request for a formal review of all the information available about the child’s learning needs, strengths, problems, and interests. A team of people, including the parent(s), reviews the information. The team uses a problem-solving process during the review in order to find out what type of instruction works best for the child. The team will decide whether additional evaluation is needed to determine if the child is eligible for ESE services.

Individual Evaluation: An evaluation includes all the procedures used to gather information about the child. These procedures may include interventions, interviews, observations, and, sometimes, individual tests that are given by a specialist, such as a school psychologist. The team, including the parent(s), makes decisions about which particular evaluation procedures will be used. The parent(s) must sign a consent form before the evaluation process can begin.

Eligibility Determination: After the evaluation, the school holds a meeting called an eligibility staffing. The parent(s) and the rest of the team discuss the information collected about the child. Then the team determines whether the child is eligible for ESE services. To receive ESE services, the child must meet the criteria listed in Florida’s State Board of Education Rules, State Statutes and District Special Programs and Procedures.

Parents Are Part of the Team!: Teachers and other school staff can answer parents’ questions about ESE and explain how parents can participate in their child’s education. School staff can also provide information about parents’ rights and responsibilities in the ESE process. Parents who want more information may contact the school principal or the ESE Administrator in the local school district office ( The rights of parents in the ESE process are called their “Procedural Safeguards.” Parents receive a written summary of their procedural safeguards when they are asked to give their consent for their child to be individually evaluated.

What Happens if the Child Is Eligible?: Development of the First IEP If the child is eligible for ESE services; the next step is to hold a meeting to write an individual educational plan (IEP). The child’s parents are invited to this meeting because they are part of the IEP team. The IEP team decides which special services and supports the child needs in order to make progress and achieve his or her annual goals.

The IEP team also decides where the child will receive services. Most children with disabilities spend the majority of their school day in general education classrooms. Some children leave the general education classroom for part of the day to receive services in an ESE classroom. A few children spend all day in a special classroom or in a special school.

Consent for Services to Begin: A child cannot receive ESE services for the first time until the IEP is written and a parent has given written consent.

Review and Revision of the IEP: The IEP team decides how a child’s progress will be measured and reported. At least once every 12 months, the IEP team meets to discuss the child’s progress and to review the IEP. However, because a child’s needs may change at any time, the IEP may also be amended at an IEP team meeting.

Lake City Medical Center Project SEARCH               Transition Program

about 1 month ago

Applications need to be turned in by April 17, 2020 to Pam Hill, Janell Warfel, April Vinson (CHS), or Lauri Thomas (FWHS).

Project Search 2019 - 2020 Graduation 
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Lake City Medical Center

Click Below for Application

Questions Contact:  
Pam Hill  
Telephone: (386) 755-8049

Skills Assessment & Interview Day

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Time:  8:30-1:30                       Location::                                   Lake City Medical Center         

340 NW Commerce Dr             

Lake City, FL 32055

Mandatory for all Candidates

Pre-Employment Training

June 8th - 11th, 2020

Time:  8:00-3:30                      Location: CCSD Adult Education Bldg.  444 West Duval Street            

Lake City, FL  32055

Bring Bagged Lunch

Mandatory for all Candidates

Open House

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Time:  6 - 9 PM

Location:                                   Lake City Medical Center         

340 NW Commerce Dr             

Lake City, FL 32055

Mandatory for all Candidates

Program Start Date

August 10, 2020

Project Search Parent Night
Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Time: 6-9pm
Where: Lake City Medical Center

Learn how youth with disabilities can become involved in this unique transition-to-work internship program for the 2020-2021 school year!

Project CATCh

over 3 years ago

Columbia Acting Together For Children

Project CATCh takes referrals for counseling services from all Columbia County’s schools Pre-K thru high school.

Referrals can cover a wide range of issues including behavior problems, depression, anxiety, adjustment issues, and family concerns.

Project CATCh refers to community counseling agencies.  After meeting with parents or guardians, referrals are made based on needs, insurance status and convenience.

Judy Tatem, M.Ed.

Parenting Teacher & Project Cares  


386-755-8191 FAX

Donna Lee



386-755-8191 FAX

Lorraine Zeller

Case Manager


386-755-8191 FAX

Mental Health Providers

Department of Clinical and Health Psy. University of Florida

Brenda Wiens, Ph.D


Haile Market Therapy & Behavioral Medicine

Garret Evans, Psy. D.,LLC



Myriah Brady, LCSW

352-374-5600 x 8072

Resolution Health Alliance  

Meredith Evans


CDS Family and Behavioral Health Services, Inc.

Stephanie Douglas, MA, LMHC

     386-487-0196 x 3505

Haven Hospice

Marissa McGehe


352-692-5198 fax

Hospice of Nature Coast

 Joy Dias (Lake City)


386-755-7726 fac 

Sarah Masse (High Springs)



386-454-1358 fax

Cares Counselors

Holly Casey

Janet Kuykendall, LMHC
Lindsey Morton, LMHC
Jackie Serrano
DeCarlos Scippio

University of Florida Evaluator

Dr. Brenda Wiens, Ph.D.

Teen Parenting Program (TAP)

Teen Parent Programs are voluntary programs designed to provide comprehensive and ancillary services to facilitate the completion of coursework necessary to earn a high school diploma.  Program components include a specialized curriculum, parenting education, and the following ancillary services:  childcare, health services, social services and transportation.

Elementary School Counseling Grant

This grant enables schools to develop promising and innovative approaches for initiating or expanding counseling programs in all of Columbia County’s elementary schools.  The three year project will contribute to the personal growth, educational development and the social-emotional well- being of students served at this critical time in their lives.

Transition Services

over 2 years ago

star - Summer youth program

Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Pre-Employment Transition Services must be offered to students with disabilities without requiring them to apply for, or be determined eligible for, these services.

WIOA established VR as the primary agency for preparing youth with disabilities for employment while the youth are still in high school or attending post secondary school (trade, college, or university). VR will deliver specific Pre-Employment Transition Services including:

  • Career Exploration Counseling
  • Work Readiness Training
  • Community-Based Work Experiences
  • Self-Advocacy

The students are not traditional VR customers, but have been referred to VR by school districts for limited (pre-employment) services.

Career Exploration Counseling

Includes skills, abilities, aptitudes, interest assessments and post-secondary options.

Work Readiness Training

Allows students to write a resume, interview properly, search and apply for jobs online, find and complete job applications, manage employer contacts, handle conflict, navigate public transportation and review employee benefits, if needed.

Community-Based Work Experiences

Allows students to apply and practice soft social skills, gain an idea of work, develop work skills, building relationship leading to job references and identify work accommodations.

Self-Advocacy Training

Students will leave the Self-Advocacy Training with meaningful and relevant tools that can be used as they transition. A Self-Awareness Portfolio will provide students an opportunity to highlight their strengths and skills while identifying reasonable accommodations necessary for success. A Professional Portfolio, which builds on the Self-Awareness Portfolio, allows students to document their skills and abilities through evidence and letters of recommendations.

How Do I Sign Up For STAR?

Complete Application and Send to Transition Specialist by April 1st.

CARD UF Support Group
A lunch get together for parents, caregivers, adults on the spectrum, community members and all interested parties. Please bring money for lunch and if support is needed please bring your support person. Location/Meeting Times: Sakura Buffet, 2469 W US Hwy 90 #148, Lake City, FL 32055. 1st Wednesdays of the month,11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Parents contact: Margie Garlin at or 352-846-2762 or Adults with ASD contact: Robin Byrd at or 846-3700
McKay Letters