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Special Education (IDEA) and Section 504 for Students

Autism Awareness Day 2018
Donna McClain
Director of Special Education

Records request: Macey Martin (912) 287-2306 Extension 1144 (
GoIEP transfers: Dr. Terri Garmon (912) 287-2306 Extension 1133 (
Job Openings: or Janice Cribbs (912) 283-8656 (
Special Education Department
Dr. Donna McClain, Director Phone Ext. 1128
Section 504 is a separate law from IDEA. For information about Section 504 services for students in Ware County Schools, please click on the following link:
Section 504 Services for Students in Ware County
GoIEP Manager
Dr. Terri Garmon, School Psychologist Phone Ext. 1133
Psychological Services
Deborah Brooks, School Psychologist Phone Ext. 1129
Lisa Fesperman, School Psychologist (912) 287-2362
Dr. Terri Garmon, School Psychologist Phone Ext. 1133
Brittany Peacock, School Psychologist Phone Ext. 1135
Lori Taylor, PK Teacher/School Psyc Intern Phone Ext. 1127
School Level Special Education Coordinators
Preschool (Ages 3 through 5)
DAFFODIL PK/County: Lori Taylor (912) 287-2306 Ext. 1127
Head Start/Early Head Start/BCW: Melissa Wheeler (912) 285-1844
Elementary Schools (K-5th)
Center Elementary: Mary Morgan (912) 287-2366
Memorial Drive Elementary: Jennifer Oliver (912) 287-2327
Ruskin Elementary: Tammy Young (912) 287-2325
WACONA Elementary: Carolyn Yarbrough (912) 287-2362
WACONA Elementary: Joanne Dickinson (912) 287-2362
Waresboro Elementary: Dr. Renee Lee (912) 287-2393
Williams Heights: Brooke Sweat (912) 287-2399
Middle Schools (6th-8th)
Ware County Middle: Kimberly Brown (912) 287-2341
Waycross Middle: Justin Jury (912) 287-2333
Ware County High School (9th-12th)
Ware County High: Stacie Sheys (912) 287-2351
Ware Learning Center (Alternative School)
Ware Learning Center: Hannah Lovas, Teacher (912) 490-1055
Speech Therapy Services
DAFFODIL PK: Jesse Avera (912) 287-2306 Ext. 1127
Head Start: Kristie Bennett (912) 285-1844
Center Elementary: Pam Perritt (912) 287-2366
Memorial Drive Elementary: Sarah Lee (912) 287-2327
Ruskin Elementary: Keri Smith (912) 287-2325
WACONA Elementary: Tisch Harris (912) 287-2362
WACONA Elementary: Kat Bray (912) 287-2362
Waresboro Elementary: Nancy Bennett (912) 287-2393
Williams Heights: Amy Hendrix-Bennett (912) 287-2399
Ware County Middle: Jo Grantham (912) 287-2341
Waycross Middle: Jo Grantham (912) 287-2333
Ware County High: Amy Hendrix-Bennett (912) 287-2351
Students Ware Learning Center and Harrell Learning Center with speech therapy needs are served by the SLP of their home school or assigned to an SLP with the lowest current caseload.
Behavioral Support  Services
PK to 8th: Lori Taylor, PK Teacher/School Psyc Intern Phone Ext. 1127
Ware County High: Stacie Sheys, Behavior Technician (912) 287-2351
Assistive Technology Team
Barbara Sonnier, VI Teacher and AT Coordinator Phone 287-2351
Chelsie Smith, Occupational Therapist  Phone 287-2399
Eleanor Jordan  Phone 287-2399
Records Request
Macey Martin, Records/Data Clerk Phone Ext. 1144
Wendy Kinnon, Data Manager Phone Ext. 1158
FTE Data Manager & Medicaid Billing
Wendy Kinnon, Data Manager Phone Ext. 1158
Parent Mentor
Kim Gibson, Parent Mentor Phone Ext. 1130
Transition & Post-Secondary Outcomes Team
Brittany Peacock, School Psychologist Phone Ext. 1135
Lori Taylor, PK Teacher/School Psyc Intern Phone Ext. 1127
Kim Gibson, Parent Mentor Phone Ext. 1130
Stacie Sheys, WCHS Special Ed Coordinator, Phone 287-2351
Preschool Program & Preschool Outcomes Team
           Melissa Wheeler, Preschool Special Education Coordinator,                  Phone 285-1844  (Housed at Ware County Head Start)
Lori Taylor, DAFFODIL Preschool Special Education Coordinator, School Psychologist Intern Phone 287-2306 Ext. 1127
                          Kristie Bennett, Preschool Speech Therapist,                                          Phone 285-1844 (Housed at Ware County Head Start)
                     Jesse Avera, Preschool Speech Therapist,                                          Phone 287-2311 (Housed at DAFFODIL PK Center)
Child Find Notice
Overview of Special Education 

The Ware County School System offers an array of special services at its campuses.  Our Special Education Department serves students who qualify for services in one or more of the following areas:  mild intellectual disability, moderate intellectual disability, severe intellectual disability, profound intellectual disability, emotional and behavioral disorder, specific learning disability, hearing impairment (including deafness), other health impairment, visual impairment (including blindness), orthopedic impairment, speech and language impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, and significant developmental delay.  The Committee developing the Individual Education Plan determines the instructional arrangement under which each student receives special education and related services.

Last school year (2017-18) over 1000 students were served in special education programs at 11 public school sites,  as well as numerous day care and private settings, including Head Start, Early Head Start, Discovery Montessori School, YMCA Preschool, Rochelle's, Children First,  and Southside Christian Academy.  Students are served in a variety of settings including general education classrooms, small group,  and separate classrooms, as well as related vocational instructional programs through CTAE.  


Services available through Special Education

Related Services 

Students with disabilities in Ware County may also receive related services in the areas of special transportation, occupational therapy, physical therapy, orientation and mobility training, and interpreter services.

Preschool Special Education  

Preschool special education services are available throughout Ware County for 3 to 5 year old children, regardless of their location. Preschool special education services are routinely offered at DAFFODIL Pre-K, which is a lottery-funded Pre-K program under the Ware County School System, Head Start, Early Head Start, Discovery Montessori School, Rochelle's Day Care, Second Baptist Preschool, and Southside Christian Academy. In addition, services are provided in the home for many children. 


Ware County provides services to students with severe emotional/behavioral disorders through the regional Georgia Network of Educational and Therapeutic Services (GNETS) program.  The Harrell Learning Center is part of this statewide network and is located in Ware County next to the Central Office.

Special Olymmpics 

Students with disabilities participate in Special Olympics, which is sponsored by the Ware County Recreational Department.

Vocational Rehabilitation  

Through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Human Resources, Division of Rehabilitation Services, students at the high school are referred to the Vocational Rehabilitation counselor.  The services provided through the counselor enables students with disabilities and their families access to additional services for vocational evaluation and for transition of the students from school to community.

Assistive Technology 

The goal of the assistive technology team is to provide appropriate and ongoing access to education for all Ware County students with disabilities.  Students with disabilities often have a variety of diverse educational needs and depend on computers and other assistive technologies to make educational progress.  Assistive technology evaluations are available through the local Assistive Technology team. Students with disabilities who are provided AT have a 95% graduation rate.

Transition Services  

The Transition Services Program is the umbrella for a variety of different programs and services to provide a coordinated set of transition services within the Ware County School System.  A Transition Team guides the process. Deborah Brooks oversees transition between self-contained settings. Brittany Peacock and Lori Taylor oversee the transition process at the high school, and coordinate efforts with Kim Gibson, parent mentor, and Stacie Sheys, special education coordinator.  Melissa Wheeler coordinates transition between Babies Can't Wait and preschool special education services. 

Project Search

Project Search is a program located at our local hospital, Satilla Memorial. Tom Cribb is the current instructor, and Robin Wall provides para-professional support. Students, usually those with significant cognitive impairments, are referred to Project Search after they have passed the GAA in 11th grade and after they have earned enough credits to graduate from high school. Project Search is a high school classroom located at the hospital and allows students to rotate through various types of jobs, includuing food services, housekeeping, and customer service. Project Search in Ware County has won two national awards for 100% employment rate.

Find Your Path

Find Your Path was developed by our Parent Mentor, Kim Gibson. Students in the FYP program are encouraged and assisted in their efforts to apply to post-secondary settings. Students are guided through the application process and entry level exams. If students do not pass the entry level exams, tutoring is provided at the school. Students are also invited to a transition fair, usually held in March of each year.  Students from several counties participate and are transported by bus to Coastal Pines Technical College. Several agencies are available to parents and students to discuss options for post-secondary educational opportunities.


Professionally Qualified teachers are employed each school year to provide services to students with disabilities in Ware County.  Paraprofessionals are employed to support instruction in special education classrooms and general education classrooms.  Specialists are available and include the following: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Vision Impaired specialist, Hearing Impaired specialist, and Orientation and Mobility specialist. All staff participate in Professional Learning Communities, and paraprofesionals receive additional training through the Paraeducator modules (MasterTeacher).

Psychological Services

School psychologists evaluate students referred to the department who are suspected of having a disability. They are responsible for conducting a comprehensive evaluation, and they provide significant support during the eligibility determination process. Personnel in this department: 

  • administer and interpret formal and informal psychological tests with individual students,
  • participate in the eligibility determination of students for special education services,
  • consult with school staff to assist with behavioral interventions and to help others deal more effectively with children,
  • offer a variety of staff development programs focused on students’ behavioral and academic success,
  • and provide additional supportive services to students, district personnel, and parents as the need arises.


Referral Process

Each school in Ware County has a Student Support Team coordinator.  Data regarding student achievement and other areas of functioning are reviewed several times per year by the Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) team members. When the team suspects a disability may be present, the student's file is sent to the System RtI Team for further review. If the System MTSS Review team agrees with the school team's assessment, then the student's file is sent to the special education coordinator of the student's home school.

Evaluation Process

When a student is in need of an evaluation for special education services, parents are contacted. Parental consent for evaluation is sent to the parent along with parental rights in special education. If the parents agree to an evaluation through special education, then additional school level information is gathered prior to sending in the referral to the psychologists and other specialists who will be involved in the comprehensive evaluation. After the evaluation is completed, an eligibility report is developed. This information is reviewed in an Eligibility Team meeting. The Eligibility Team determines whether or not a student is eligible for services, and if the student is eligible, the team determines the category or categories of placement.  If the student is eligible, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed. The IEP is reviewed at a minimum of once a year. 

Parent Mentor Partnership Grant

Ware County receives a grant, which provides funds for a  parent mentor for students with disabilities and their parents. The mentor works to build effective family, school and community partnerships that lead to greater achievement for the students. She provides resources and ideas to help parents guide their students to succeed in school.  The mentor works in schools, joining administrators, teachers, staff and families in helping students with disabilities be successful as well as working within the community, helping schools and families work to create jobs and other opportunities for their children. The overall goal is to improve the quality of life for students with disabilities.