Special Education Services

What is special education?

Special education is the specially designed instruction and supports/services designed to meet the unique needs of students who have disabilities. The definition of special education comes from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law provides eligible students with disabilities the right to receive special instruction and services that are designed to meet their unique needs resulting from having a disability as well as gain access to the information and skills that other students are learning in the general education curriculum.

Belief Statement

Believing all students are unique individuals, the Stoughton Area School District will move beyond a traditional system of labeling which categorizes students into specific programs and locations. The Stoughton Area School District promotes a philosophy that meets students’ needs through a model of service delivery, providing the opportunity for students to work with a variety of staff, and increasing flexibility for staff to work with all students. Students are provided a rigorous curriculum and quality differentiated instruction in inclusive environments. Through collaboration, all staff share responsibility for meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of all learners.

We believe that:

  1. All students learn best in a diverse learning environment, reflective of the overall student population, where there is quality instruction and rich social interaction.
  2. When expectations are high for all students, they will work toward meeting those expectations to the best of their abilities.
  3. Students are able to meet expectations when supported by adaptations and strategies.
  4. Students are responsible for their learning and benefit from understanding their strengths, challenges, and learning styles.
  5. Students, parents, staff, and community are partners in the educational process.
  6. District outreach to families and family support of students is vital for student success.
  7. Quality teaching requires a variety of instructional strategies planned and implemented by the collaboration of professionals with various expertise.
  8. Ongoing collaboration time, built into weekly schedules, is essential to meeting student needs in a service delivery model.
  9. Staff will be supported with ongoing learning opportunities to further improve practice that meets the varied learning needs of students.
  10. Teachers with special licensure use their expertise to support all students and are not limited in their role by a label.
  11. Communication within building staff, district staff, and parents (community) is essential to the success of the Building Service Delivery Team model and process.
  12. The goal of Special Education services is to help students meet general education standards and ultimately be dismissed from special education programming.

Who is eligible for special education?

Students are found eligible when they meet the IDEA definition of a “child with a disability” in combination with state law and regulations.

What is Child Find?

Child Find is a process designed to identify, locate and evaluate individuals (birth through 21 years of age) with disabilities who may need special education services. Upon request, the Stoughton Area School District is required to evaluate a child to determine if they are eligible for special education services.  Anyone who reasonably believes a child brought to him or her for services including a physician (see Special Education and the Physician below), nurse, psychologist, or social worker should refer the child to the school district in which they reside.  Points of contact should be Keli Melcher, Director of Student Services (insert phone, email) or the building Principal, Psychologist, or Special Education Coordinator listed at the right; anyone with concerns is encouraged to call to obtain additional information regarding the referral process, possible screening opportunities, and questions regarding special education eligibility.

Why should we refer?

Early identification can prevent failure and frustration. Special attention to teaching and learning strategies may help individuals overcome barriers to learning. If a disability is not found, other resources may be available to help.

Special Education Guide

This Guide from the Department of Public Instruction provides an excellent introduction to Special Education. 


Referrals must be in writing and include the reason why the person believes the child is a child with a disability. If someone other than a parent is making a referral a parent needs to be contacted prior to making the referral letting them know a referral is being made for their child.

What happens after the referral is made?

The parent(s) or legal guardian will be contacted by Stoughton Area School District staff. Appropriate personnel will gather together based on the type and characteristics of the disability which is suspected. This school district group with the help of parents will decide if an evaluation (testing) is needed to determine if there is a disability. If an evaluation is needed, the parent along with this group of knowledgeable staff will meet to discuss the outcome of the evaluation, special education eligibility, and whether the student is in need of a variety of service options.

Special Education and the Physician

In a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, important guidance was recently shared with the Wisconsin Medical Society on the federal and state laws governing pediatric patient referrals for special education services. The guidance, entitled Special Education and the Physician outlines legal requirements and clarifies that special education cannot be prescribed, but must be determined through an IEP process.


Fox Prairie Elementary

Ashley Billstrom-Luedtke





Kegonsa Elementary

Jake Schultz






Sandhill Elementary
Ethan Anderson





River Bluff Middle School

Anne Fimreite

(Purple, Gold and Blue blocks)




Dave Gerszewski

Counselor (Students L-Z)
(Red, Yellow and Green blocks)




Stoughton High School

Andrew Burke
Counselor (Students A-G)

Ann Cook
Counselor (Students H-N)

Kristin Natzke
Counselor (Students O-Z)


Keli Melcher
Director of Student Services

Jenny Geishert

Administrative Assistant