Special Education

  • Big Lake Schools offers special education programming through a cooperative with other area school districts, called Sherburne Northern Wright Special Education Cooperative. Together with this cooperative, Big Lake Schools is dedicated to ensuring a free and appropriate public education for eligible students who have been identified as having a disability and who are in need of specialized instruction. 

    Special Education Programming includes:

    • K-12 Special Education
    • Early Childhood Special Education (Birth-K)
    • Section 504
    • Homebound Education
    • Developments Cognitive Disabilities (DCD) Center-based program, ages 5-21
    • Elementary Level 4 Program
    Once an evaluation confirms a student will benefit from special education services, an individualized education program (IEP) will be developed. The IEP outlines the unique needs of a student and the specialized goals and objectives that will help a student make educational progress. Parents play an important role in identifying special education needs and in establishing the IEP. 


  • The State of Minnesota has established mandated criteria in order for a child to be eligible for special education services. A child must have a disability and be in need of special education services in order to be eligible.

    The State of Minnesota has defined that "child with a disability" means a child identified under federal and state special education law as:

    • Deaf or hard of hearing
    • Blind or visually impaired
    • Deaf/blind
    • A speech or language impairment
    • A physical impairment or other health disability
    • Developmental cognitive disability
    • An emotional or behavioral disorder
    • Specific learning disability
    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Severe multiple impairments

    If you believe your student fits the criteria above and would benefit from special education services, please contact your child's principal and request an evaluation.

Early Childhood Special Education

  • Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is available to children from birth to age seven who need special instruction or services due to a visual, auditorial, physical or other impairment; have an identifiable syndrome known to hinder normal development; or have a significant delay or impairment in cognitive, speech or language development.

    The Goal of Early Childhood Services
    The goal of early intervention is to provide free and appropriate opportunities for children to develop skills that will enable them to function to their fullest potential. Early childhood years are crucial for developing and learning the skills necessary for future success.

    Home-based and Center-based Services
    Depending on needs, home-based services are available for children birth to age three and center-based services are available for children ages three to seven.

    Parent Involvement
    Active parent involvement is a critical factor in the success of ECSE services. Staff provide support and guidance to parents and children with special needs. Educational programs and services require the consent and involvement of parents from initial assessment to placement.

Section 504

  • Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance, such as school districts. The law requires that school districts provide a free and appropriate public education to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.

    Students covered under Section 504 are ultimately provided the right to have their individual educational needs met as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.

    Qualified Students Protected
    To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:

    1. Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
    2. Have a record of such an impairment; or
    3. Be regarded as having such an impairment

    For more information on Section 504 or if you believe you child should receive Section 504 services, please contact the assistant principal at your child's school.