Exceptional Student Education Programs

Assistive Technology

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines AT as both a device and a service. An Assistive Technology Device is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities. An Assistive Technology Service is any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Assistive technology promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing.

Collaborative Teaching

Students receive instruction in the general curriculum in a typical educational setting for more than 60% of the school day. Instructional methods are likely to incorporate differentiated instruction and the use of accommodations. ESE services may include consultation among teachers, support facilitation, co-teaching, paraprofessional support, and/or content mastery or learning lab to meet the student’s academic needs. Students with disabilities may also receive intensive reading instruction in the general education setting.

This service is available at all Elementary, Middle and High schools throughout the district. The Student Assignment Department handles all school registration for the School district of Lee County.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Lee County provides educational services to students identified as deaf or hard-of-hearing. The Deaf or Hard-of Hearing Program offers a full continuum of services to meet both academic and communication needs identified on a student's Individual Educational Plan (IEP). Eligibility for the program is based on both a documented hearing loss and educational need. Students aged 3 through 22 years can receive itinerant services at their home school or attend a designated school site where classes are taught by a teacher certified in deaf education. The designated school sites are Allen Park Elementary, Fort Myers Middle Academy, and Fort Myers High School. Auditory-oral and total communication options are available at all levels. Sign language interpreting services provide students access to classroom curriculum and extra curricula activities. Additionally, a wide range of audiological services are provided for Hearing Impaired students through the district Audiologist.

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Extended School Year

Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services that may be provided to a child with a disability beyond the normal school district calendar. The need for Extended School Year services is determined by the IEP team. Specific services are written into the child’s current IEP and may include all or some of the special education and related services the child receives during the school year.

Families can contact their child’s teacher or the ESE Department for more information about Extended School Year.

Functional Skills

Students receive instruction in a self-contained classroom with emphasis on teaching self-help skills, daily living skills, functional or augmentative communication skills, and pre-vocational skills, as indicated by the student's IEP.

This specialized program has specific criteria for placement through the Exceptional Student Education Department. This service is available to elementary, middle and high school students in the district at a selected location in each attendance zone.

Gifted Education

In Florida, the Department of Education defines a gifted student as One who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance, including those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability.

To be eligible for gifted program services, a student must demonstrate a need for a program, a majority of characteristics of gifted students according to a standard scale or checklist, and superior intellectual development as measured by an intelligence quotient of two standard deviations or more above the mean on an individually administered standardized test of intelligence. A gifted student may also be a member of an under-represented group and meet the criteria specified in the approved school district plan for increasing participation of under-represented groups in gifted programs.

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Hospital Homebound

Hospital Homebound services may be provided for students who are medically unable to attend school for an extended period of time (expected to be absent from school for a minimum of 15 consecutive school days or 15 non-consecutive school days due to a chronic condition.) A Hospital Homebound referral may be completed as soon as the parent/guardian learns of an acute, catastrophic or chronic medical condition, or an anticipated medical condition (pending surgery/ surgery recovery.) Pregnancy is not considered a medical condition that meets eligibility criteria for Hospital Homebound unless a physician certifies that there is a medical condition that confines the student to the home or hospital for a minimum of 15 consecutive days. A licensed physician or psychiatrist must complete a medical referral to include but is not limited to: a diagnosis, treatment plan, medication, reasonable precautions, expected duration and plan for re-entry to school.

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Life Skills

Students receive instruction based on the Sunshine State Standards Access Points in functional academics. Instruction is also focused on daily living skills, self-care skills, motor skills, pre-vocational and vocational training, social skills, and recreation and the use of leisure time that is age appropriate and community referenced. Community based instruction and vocational education are provided for students as determined relevant for each student.

This service is available, based on IEP decisions, to elementary, middle and high school students in the district at selected locations in each attendance zone.

Occupational / Physical Therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) means services provided by a qualified occupational therapist or certified occupational therapy assistant; and includes: improving, developing, or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation; improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost; and preventing, through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function.

Occupational Therapy addresses fine motor, visual/perceptual-motor, oral-motor, self-care, and sensory processing skills necessary for the student's active participation in academic, vocational, and play/leisure pursuits during his/her school day or within the educational environment.

Physical Therapy (PT) means services provided by a qualified physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, and includes: a specially prescribed program directed toward the development, improvement, or restoration or neuromuscular or sensorimotor function, relief of pain, or control of postural deviations to attain the exceptional student's functional performance in an education setting.

Physical Therapy addresses gross motor skills related to safe/functional mobility and accessibility, participation in classroom activities/specials, and the ability to assume/maintain functional positions within the school environment.

Social Communication

Students identified for this highly structured specialized program, from Pre-K through secondary levels, receive educational instruction and therapies targeting behavior, sensory integration, communication and social interaction.

This specialized program has specific criteria for placement through the Exceptional Student Education Department. This service is available to elementary, middle and high school students in the district at a selected location in each attendance zone.

Speech & Language Impaired Programs

The School District of Lee County provides a continuum of speech and language services.

Speech impairments are disorders of speech sounds, fluency, or voice that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the education environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education.

Language impairments are disorders of language that interfere with communication, adversely affect performance and/or functioning in the student's typical learning environment, and result in the need for exceptional student education.

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Visually Impaired

Lori Witt


Michele Goldman
Learning Resource Specialist

Lee County provides educational services to students identified as blind or partially sighted. The Vision Program provides specialized services by Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Orientation & Mobility Specialists. A wide range of assistive technology devices and low vision aids are available to meet individual needs. When a child turns 3, itinerant services are available at any Lee County School. Three schools have resource classroom options for elementary, middle, and high school students. Intensive Instruction in Braille is provided for students at these sites. (Schools: Villas Elementary, Varsity Lakes Middle School, and Fort Myers High School) Transcription of teacher made instructional and curriculum material is produced in large print and Braille by the Braille Support Team. Orientation & Mobility is provided for students requiring this specialized instruction.