Special Education


Our mission is to ensure that educators engage students with special needs with high-quality, intentional instruction to ensure growth and personal success.


Our students with special needs will be enabled individuals prepared for personal success.


All students with special needs are general education students first. Individual needs, not labels, programs, or places drive decisions for students with special needs.

Contact Us

Adapted PE: 210-397-2406 

Assistive Technology: 210-397-3527

Deaf/Hard of Hearing: 210-397-1578 

Homebound: 210-397-8811 

OT/PT: 210-397-2428 

Special Education: 210-397-8742 

Speech/Language: 210-397-8751 

Special Education Referrals:  210-397-3508

Visual Impairment: 210-397-3568

Our Programs

Applied Learning Environment (ALE)
The ALE is a specialized instruction setting for students who have a moderate to severe cognitive disability. In addition, they require functional academics, and daily living skills to promote independence. Students in ALE access grade level TEKS at the prerequisite skill level and need intensive individualized instruction in a variety of instructional settings with substantial modifications.
Adapted Physical Education (APE)
Adapted Physical Education is an individualized program of developmental activities, exercises, games, sports, and rhythms that are designed to meet the unique physical education needs of individuals experiencing difficulties in the psychomotor domain.
Behavior Mastery Center (BMC/BASE)
The BMC and BASE programs specialize in supporting the individual educational needs of each student through behavioral and academic foundations. Our primary objective is to provide an environment that contributes to the acquisition of academic and pro-social behavior skills that generalize throughout all aspects of a student's life.
Co-Teach Program
Northside uses the Co-Teach model to facilitate the delivery of Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) for some students who qualify for special education. In a co-teach classroom, two certified teachers collaborate in the planning, delivery, and monitoring of services to help students make progress in identified areas of need as outlined in each student’s Individual Education Program (IEP).
Deaf & Hard of Hearing (DHH/RDSPD)
NISD’s Regional Day School Program for the Deaf utilizes Total Communication and ASL. We provide direct specialized instruction, ECSE D/HH programs and inclusive mainstream practices. Audiological management, speech therapy, interpreting, and counseling are also provided by certified staff.
Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
ECSE is any special education service for children ages 3-5 which begin as early as the child's 3rd birthday. ECSE services are provided through a continuum of service options that may include "drop-in" speech therapy, in-class support, or specialized instruction as decided by the child's ARD Committee.
Homebound/Hospital Programs
Homebound/Hospital Bedside services are provided to students who are confined to home or hospital for four or more weeks due to a medical condition as documented by a licensed physician.
Music Therapy (MT)
Music Therapy is a related service used to support students with disabilities in achieving their non-musical goals and objectives outlined in their individualized education plan. These services are determined necessary by the Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee after an evaluation conducted by a Board Certified Music Therapist.
Occupational & Physical Therapy (OT/PT)
Special Education PT and OT services are a related or support service to the students’ instructional program. Services support the IEP through integration of direct and indirect student interventions as well as collaboration/consultation with the educational team to provide students with access and participation in their school day.
Special Campuses Holmgreen/Reddix/RISE
The RISE and Holmgreen Programs are available to service students with severe emotional and/or behavioral concerns and are determined on an individual basis by the ARD committee. The Reddix Center is a special campus which houses students who are medically fragile or students transitioning from school to adult life.
Special Olympics
NISD Special Olympics provide year-round district training and competition in a variety of sports to students with intellectual and physical disabilities. District scores are supported by Area 20 Special Olympics for those athletes wishing to expand their competition with Area or State competitions.
Speech-Language & Assistive Technology Programs
School-based speech therapy is an instructional or related service that supports the educational program for students who have a disorder in communication in one or more of the following areas: articulation, language, voice, or fluency (stuttering). School based Assistive Technology (AT) service is any service that directly assists a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Assistive Technology support becomes a related service when a student requires a specific tool to access curriculum, compensate for their disability, and/or provide independence in various settings.
Transition/Graduation & Post-Secondary Planning
Transition services are activities based on interests, students’ strengths, and needs that prepare students receiving special education services for their transition from school to post-school life. All high school students receiving special education services are required to have a course of study that will reasonably enable the student to meet postsecondary goals. A course of study is a multi-year description of all the coursework that the student will take to achieve his/her post-secondary goals.
Visually Impaired (VI)
Teacher’s of the Visually Impaired along with Orientation and Mobility Specialists work together to meet the instructional and daily living skills of students with a visual impairment. The VI Department works collaboratively with campuses and other related services specialists to ensure each student has access to the curriculum by providing such things as instruction in braille, social emotional support, daily living and independence skills as well as career and technology planning.
Vocational Instruction Program (VIP)
The Vocational Instructional Program (VIP) is designed to help students acquire a specific set of skills in alignment with their post-secondary goals. Students receiving special education services have the opportunity to experience, perform, and develop meaningful vocational skills in a "real life" campus/community environment used as teaching tools. The VIP is directly related to the preparation of the student for paid or unpaid employment or placement in a work/day program setting.

Special Education Resources


NISD Table Talks

The NISD Special Education Department provides parent information and training sessions throughout the year as part of our Table Talk Series.  Please check out our Table Talk Flyer for more information in English or Spanish.

Education Service Center, Region 20

The Education Service Center - Region 20 offers a variety of parent training and webinars throughout the year. 

Check out their catalog for a list of offerings for the 2020-2021 school year in English and Spanish.



Region 10 ESC, in collaboration with the Texas Education Agency, has created the Texas Special Education Information Center (SPEDTex).  SPEDTex is a resource designed to inform and support parents, teachers, and anyone who is committed to the success of children with disabilities.  Please visit the SPEDTex website at www.spedtex.org for more information.

The Education Service Center at Region 20 offers a new Parent Resource webpage.  The webpage is full of specific parent resources for all types of topics ranging from academic resources to bullying to financial aid to substance abuse, along with specific special education resources and much more.

Navigate Life Texas offers resources for students with disabilities and special health care needs.

The project Autism Lifeline Links, ALL for short, is a collaborative funded by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, and is a fairly new initiative in the San Antonio and surrounding area.  Check out their website, including a resource guide developed for people with ASD.

Parent Companion offers a guide for Texas parents and caregivers of children with diagnosed or suspected disabilities from birth to 5 years old.

Respite Care of San Antonio is an organization that offers various respite care opportunities for children and students with special needs including: daycare, mother's day out, and family's day out opportunities. Check out the following link for information on RCSA’s Community Respite Programs and more.



For those students who are having difficulty in the regular classroom, all school districts and open enrollment charter schools must consider tutorial, compensatory, and other academic or behavior support services that are available to all students, including a process based on Response to Intervention (RtI). The implementation of RtI has the potential to have a positive impact on the ability of districts and charter schools to meet the needs of all struggling students.

If a student is experiencing learning difficulties, his or her parent may contact the individual(s) listed below to learn about the school’s overall general education referral or screening system for support services. This system links students to a variety of support options, including making a referral for a special education evaluation or for a Section 504 evaluation to determine if the student needs specific aids, accommodations, or services. A parent may request an evaluation for special education or Section 504 services at any time.

Special Education Referrals

If a parent makes a written request for an initial evaluation for special education services to the director of special education services or an administrative employee of the school district or open enrollment charter school, the district or charter school must respond no later than 15 school days after receiving the request. At that time, the district or charter school must give the parent a prior written notice of whether it agrees to or refuses to evaluate the student, along with a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards. If the school district or charter school agrees to evaluate the student, it must also give the parent the opportunity to give written consent for the evaluation.

Please note that a request for a special education evaluation may be made verbally and does not need to be in writing. Districts and charter schools must still comply with all federal prior written notice and procedural safeguard requirements and the requirements for identifying, locating, and evaluating children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education. However, a verbal request does not require the district or charter school to respond within the 15-school-day timeline.

If the district or charter school decides to evaluate the student, it must complete the student’s initial evaluation and evaluation report no later than 45 school days from the day it receives a parent’s written consent to evaluate the student. However, if the student is absent from school during the evaluation period for three or more school days, the evaluation period will be extended by the number of school days equal to the number of school days that the student is absent.

There is an exception to the 45-school-day timeline. If a district or charter school receives a parent’s consent for the initial evaluation at least 35 but less than 45 school days before the last instructional day of the school year, it must complete the written report and provide a copy of the report to the parent by June 30 of that year. However, if the student is absent from school for three or more days during the evaluation period, the June 30th due date no longer applies. Instead, the general timeline of 45 school days plus extensions for absences of three or more days will apply.

Upon completing the evaluation, the district or charter school must give the parent a copy of the evaluation report at no cost.

Additional information regarding special education is available from the district or charter school in a companion document titled Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process.

Contact Person for Special Education Referrals

The designated person to contact regarding options for a student experiencing learning difficulties or regarding a referral for evaluation for special education services is Dr. Coleman Heckman at (210) 397-3508.

Section 504 Referrals

Each school district or charter school must have standards and procedures in place for the evaluation and placement of students in the district’s or charter school’s Section 504 program. Districts and charter schools must also implement a system of procedural safeguards that includes notice, an opportunity for a parent or guardian to examine relevant records, an impartial hearing with an opportunity for participation by the parent or guardian and representation by counsel, and a review procedure.

Contact Person for Section 504 Referrals

The designated person to contact regarding options for a student experiencing learning difficulties or regarding a referral for evaluation for Section 504 services is Joceyln Dudney at (210) 397-8810.

Updates in Special Education

Beginning with the 2017 school year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) changed the way it reports special education enrollment in school systems. TEA no longer includes a target for a school system’s total numbers of students in special education as part of state monitoring.

For special education representation, TEA only reports on over- representation within certain race, ethnicity and disability categories, as required by federal law. School systems cannot use this reporting data to delay, deny or prevent a referral for an evaluation for special education services.

Special education/IDEA eligibility

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, also known as IDEA, is a federal law that gives eligible students with disabilities the right to receive special education services and assistance in school. To be eligible for special education services, a student with a disability must need instruction that is specially designed to meet the student’s unique needs based on that disability.

Who can request an evaluation for special education?

A parent or guardian has the right to request a special education evaluation at any time. It is best to submit this request in writing to your school’s principal or to the school district’s special education director. If your child is pre-school age and not yet enrolled in school, send the letter to the district’s special education director. School:

If the school knows or has reason to suspect that the student has a disability and a need for special education services, the school must refer the student for a special education evaluation. More information on evaluation timelines can be found on the TEA website. A parent or guardian has the right to request a special education evaluation at any time.

Resources for Families

TEA has created topic specific information for families. Family members can call (855) 773-3839 or visit SpEdTex.org to find answers to their questions as well as general information about special education.

Additional Information

The following websites provide information and resources for students with disabilities and their families.



(not an exhaustive list)

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act IEP Individualized Education Plan

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Type 1, Type 2, or Combined Type)

LRE Least Restrictive Environment
AEP Alternative Education Program MD Multiple Disabilities
AI Auditory Impairment MT Music Therapy
APE Adapted Physical Education NICHY National Information Center for Children & Youth with Disabilities
ARD Admission, Review & Dismissal NISD Northside Independent School District
AU Autism OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
BIP Behavior Intervention Plan ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder
CBI Community Based Instruction OH or OHI Other Health Impairment
CP Cerebral Palsy OI Orthopedic Impairment
DARS Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services O&M Orientation & Mobility
DB Deaf-Blind OJT On the Job Training
DNQ Does Not Qualify OT Occupational Therapy
DSM-5 Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition PAC Parent Advisory Committee
ECC Early Childhood Collaborative PDD Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Autism Spectrum)
ECI Early Childhood Intervention PT Physical Therapy
ECSE Early Childhood Special Education (formerly known as PPCD - Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) REACH Resource for Parents of Children with Autism
ED Emotional Disturbance RDSPD Regional Day School Program for the Deaf
EOC End of Course (exam) RtI Response to Intervention
ESY Extended School Year SI Speech Impairment
FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education SLD Specific Learning Disability
FBA Functional Behavior Assessment SLP Speech Language Pathologist
FERPA Family Education Rights & Privacy Act STAAR State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness
FIE Full & Individual Evaluation STAAR-ALT 2 State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness - Alternate 2nd Edition
IA Instructional Assistant TBI Traumatic Brain Injury
ID Intellectual Disability TEA Texas Education Agency
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (2004 Reauthorization) TEKS Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills
IEE Independent Educational Evaluation VI Visual Impairment



Required Postings


The Special Education Information Center (SPEDTex) provides resources and interactive features for increasing family awareness of disabilities and special education processes, with the goal of improving partnerships between schools and families.

Contact information:


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