Special Education

Special Education records which have been collected by the Sumter County Board of Education (SCBOE) related to the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of Special Education in the district must be maintained under state and federal laws for a period of five years after Special Education services have ended for the student. Special Education services end when the student is no longer eligible for services, graduates, completes his or her educational program at age 22, or moves from the district.

This notification is to inform parents/guardians and former students of SCBOE’s intent to destroy the Special Education records of students who are no longer receiving Special Education services as of the end of the 2018-2019 school year. These records will be destroyed in accordance with state law unless the parent/guardian or eligible (adult) student notifies the school district otherwise.

After five years, the records are no longer useful to the district, but they may be useful to the parent/guardian or former student in applying for Social Security benefits, rehabilitation services, college entrance, etc. The parent/guardian or eligible (adult) student may request the records in writing or in person at the following address:

Mailing Address                                               

Sumter County Board of Education

P.O. Box 10

Livingston, AL 35470


Physical Address

Sumter County Board of Education

716 Country Club

Livingston, AL 35470  


Requests for records must be received by July 1, 2023.


We believe ALL students are capable of achieving great things and that success can be measured in many different ways. The purpose of the Sumter County Special Education Department is to identify students' strengths and areas of need and use the information we've gathered to make plans for improvement. We enjoy celebrating the accomplishments of our students and building on the knowledge base they already have in order to increase student achievement in all areas. As special educators, we enjoy collaborating with parents, students, administrators, paraprofessionals, and fellow teachers in order to develop and monitor plans for student success. 

We are proud of our department and the students we serve and believe great things can be accomplished if we all work together. We are here to help, so please ask if you have any questions!

Special Education Process

If you are transferring your child into the Sumter County Board of Education, please let staff know when you register your student at their home school if he or she previously received services or were in the process of being evaluated for special education services and bring appropriate documentation with you (i.e., IEP, eligibility statement). You will be contacted by your child's school within 10 days to develop a transfer IEP, determine what components need to be evaluated to meet Alabama code, and obtain your permission for those components. Until Alabama eligibility can be determined, your student will receive appropriate services in accordance with their former IEP (the IEP must be current). When the necessary components have been completed, a meeting will be scheduled to review the assessments and determine if your student meets Alabama eligibility guidelines. If they continue to meet Alabama guidelines for special education services, their IEP will be updated.

Teachers, parents, physicians, therapists, etc. who have concerns with a student's developmental or academic progress, can request a "Referral" to the school system to determine if the student needs specialized instruction.

  • If your child attends a private school within the Sumter County Board of Education, please contact the Sumter County Board of Education, Special Education Department.
  • If your child is a preschooler, please contact the Sumter County Board of Education, Special Education Department.
  • If your child is school age and currently attends a Sumter County Board of Education Schools, please speak with your child's teacher, a school/guidance counselor, a Special Education teacher, or administrative staff at your child's school.

    A "Referral" meeting will be scheduled to review concerns and data (including grades, attendance, discipline, health, etc.). If the referral is accepted, parents/guardians are asked to sign permission for the evaluation. Within 60 days of when permission is received, a multi-disciplinary team will complete the evaluation.

    (From the Alabama Administrative Code, Alabama State Board of Education, State Department of Education, Chapter 290-8-9-.01[3])

(From the Alabama Administrative Code, Alabama State Board of Education, State Department of Education, Chapter 290-8-9-.04)

Following the completion of an evaluation, a meeting will be scheduled to review the results of the assessment. This meeting is referred to as the "Eligibility" meeting. At the completion of the review, the team will determine if the student meets eligibility criteria for any of the 13 Alabama codes for special education services. If it is determined that the student meets eligibility criteria, you will be asked to give consent in writing for your student to receive special education services. 

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
(From the Alabama Administrative Code, Alabama State Board of Education, State Department of Education, Chapter 290-8-9-.05)

When a student is found eligible for special education services, an IEP is developed and specially designed to help the child progress in the educational curriculum. IEP goals may include academic goals; transition and career goals; and/or behavior goals. Related services (i.e., speech, occupational and physical therapies) may be included as determined by the IEP team based on individual needs. IEPs are developed annually but may be reviewed more frequently if requested by parents, teachers or students.

Special Education Q and A

What Is Child Find?

Child Find is a statewide effort by the Alabama State Department of Education and the Department of Rehabilitation Services to locate, identify, and evaluate children with disabilities from birth to age 21.

How Does Child Find Work?

Early Intervention and Special Education Services work closely with community service agencies, parents, and local school systems to locate children with disabilities. 

Why Is Child Find Important?

It helps the child, the family, and the provider to plan appropriate services and link families to services for students meeting eligibility requirements in the following disability areas:

  • Hearing Impairment
  • Speech and Language Impairment
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Visual Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Autism
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Developmental Delay
  • Emotional Disability


How is Special Education availability determined?

Child Identification as outlined by the Alabama Administrative Code (AAC), includes CHILD FIND, Pre-referral Intervention Strategies in the General Education Class, Referral, Evaluations, and Eligibility. Local Education Agency (LEAs) serving children with disabilities must develop and implement procedures that ensure that all children within their jurisdiction, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who need special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated. Child Find also applies to children with disabilities who attend private schools, including children attending religious schools, within the LEA’s jurisdiction, highly mobile children with disabilities (e.g., migrant children), homeless children, or children who are wards of the State, and children who are suspected of having a disability and are in need of special education, even though they have not failed, been retained in a course or grade or are advancing from grade to grade.

 My child has been found eligible for Special Education. Now what?

Written consent for services must be obtained following the determination of eligibility for special education. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed by a team that includes parents, a general educator, a special educator, and a representative of the local education agency (LEA representative). Other professionals may also be included as part of the team as appropriate to the child's needs.

The team works together to develop goals that address the child's unique educational needs and allow him to access the general education curriculum.

 Who do I contact for Special Education records?

Please contact Mrs. Mary B. Whitehead by calling 205-652-9605, via fax at 205-652-9641, or by email at:  mbwhitehead@sumter.k12.al.us

My child attends a private school. Are special education services available?

Related services such as Speech Language services are available.

 My doctor has provided a prescription for school-based services. What is my next step?

Please share this information with your child's teacher and/or school administrator. Prescriptions alone do not dictate school-based services. They may be considered as part of the evaluation process. All students must meet Alabama Administrative Code criteria for school-based special education services.

My child was recently evaluated outside of the school system and was diagnosed with a disability. Will the school system accept these results?

Please provide this information to your child's teacher and/or administrator. A meeting will be scheduled to review all information and consider the results of an independent evaluation. Diagnostic criteria are not the same as eligibility for special education services (as determined by the Alabama Administrative Code). Therefore, even if pieces of the private evaluation are accepted, additional information may still be needed to meet State eligibility requirements.

My child is homeschooled and I suspect he/she has a disability. How do I request an evaluation?

Please contact Special Education at 205-652-9605.

What are Extended School Year (ESY) services?

Extended School Year services are services provided beyond the traditional school year calendar at no cost to the parent. Students must show a documented regression of critical skills over breaks (i.e., Spring Break, summer, Christmas) that they cannot recoup within a reasonable period of re-teaching (6 - 8 weeks). The purpose of extended school year services is to maintain critical skills, not to promote new learning. If you think your child qualifies for extended school year services, please contact your child's teacher.


For more information about Child Find, contact the special education department at your child's school or Mrs. Mary B. Whitehead, Director of Special Education. To make a referral for special education, contact your child's teacher or Mrs. Mary B. Whitehead, Director of Special Education.


Areas of Eligibility

AUTISM - A developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction evident before age three that adversely affects educational performance.


DEAF-BLINDNESS - A combination of both hearing and visual impairments causing severe communication and other developmental and educational needs.


DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY - A significant delay in one or more of the following areas may identify a child for this area of the disability on his or her third birthday:

1.    Adaptive development

2.    Cognitive development

3.    Communication development

4.    Social and emotional development

5.    Physical development

EMOTIONAL DISABILITY - A disability in which one or more of the following characteristics are exhibited over a long period of time and to a marked degree, adversely affecting educational performance: An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors;

1.    An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships;

2.    Inappropriate type of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;

3.    A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression;

4.    A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

HEARING IMPAIRMENT – An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both deaf and hard of hearing.


INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY- Significantly below average general intellectual functioning existing along with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects the child's educational performance.


MULTIPLE DISABILITIES - The combination of impairments such as mental retardation and blindness or mental retardation and orthopedic impairment which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include fearfulness.


ORTHOPEDIC IMPAIRMENT -A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.  The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease, and impairments from other causes.


OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENT - Having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, this is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome.  The impairment must adversely affect the educational performance of the child.


SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY - A disorder in one or more basic psychological process involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.


SPEECH AND LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT - A communication disorder such as articulation, voice, language, or fluency, which adversely affects a child's educational performance.


TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY - An acquired injury to the brain caused by external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment or both, that adversely affects educational performance.


VISUAL IMPAIRMENT - A visual impairment that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance.


PRESCHOOL SPECIAL EDUCATION - Children between the ages of three and six with any of the previously mentioned disabilities may qualify for preschool special education services.


Contact Information

Mrs. Mary B. Whitehead, Special Education Director
Sumter County Board of Education

(205) 652-9605


Special Education Services

Preschool Services


  • Students ages 3-5 with varying disabilities are served in all settings: School-Based Preschool Programs, Community Daycare Programs, Head Start Programs, AIDB Kinder-prep Programs, and Home.
  • Referrals are made to the LEA through Early Intervention Agencies, Community Agencies, Daycare Directors, Head Start Personnel, Parents, and Physicians.
  • Students who receive Early Intervention Services prior to turning three years of age are evaluated and eligibility is determined prior to the child’s 3rd If the child qualifies for services based on Alabama State Department of Education guidelines, an IEP is implemented and services begin on the student's 3rd birthday.
  • Local Education Agency Representative, Special Education Teacher, Speech Language Pathologist, General Education Teacher(s), and parents are included in the IEP Team.


    (From the Alabama Administrative Code, Alabama State Board of Education, State Department of Education, Chapter 290-8-9, Special Education Services Update 11/04/13): Speech or Language Impairment means a communication disorder in the area of articulation, voice, fluency, or language that adversely affects a child's educational performance.


    If a behavior problem is noted in the Special Instructional Factors of an IEP, the behavior must be addressed and the IEP Team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions, supports, and/or other strategies to address that behavior. Additionally, the IEP Team may address the behavior through annual goals in the IEP. The child's IEP may include modifications in his or her program, support for his or her teachers, and any related services necessary to achieve those behavioral goals.


    (From the Alabama Administrative Code, Alabama State Board of Education, State Department of Education, Chapter 290-8-9.00 [21], Special Education Services Update 11/04/13): Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

    Occupational Therapy

                Services provided by a qualified therapist that includes improving, developing, or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness,                injury, or deprivation; improving the ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost; preventing,                  through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function.

        Physical Therapy

         Services are provided by a qualified physical therapist.

Gifted Program


In addition to students with special needs, the Sumter County Board of Education, Special Education Department is also responsible for offering services for students who qualify for gifted services as outlined by the Alabama Administrative Code (AAC).

Intellectually gifted children and youth are those who perform at or have demonstrated the potential to perform at high levels in academic or creative fields when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These children and youth require services not ordinarily provided by the regular school program. Children and youth possessing these abilities can be found in all populations, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor. Gifted students may be found within any race, ethnicity, gender, economic class, or nationality, In addition, some students with disabilities may be gifted.

The Sumter County Board of Education shall prohibit discrimination against any student on the above bases with respect to his/her participation in the gifted program.

How Does A Student Become Eligible for Gifted Services?

Procedures are in place to ensure that students who exhibit gifted characteristics are referred for gifted services. These include public notice, equity to ensure that efforts are made to identify students among all populations and socio-economic groups, Second Grade Child Find, and standard referrals made by teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents/guardians. Parents must be informed when students are referred.

Does My Child’s School Offer Gifted Services?

Student’s grades 3 – 5 receive gifted services in their neighborhood school. Middle School and High School students are offered enriched levels of learning in the honors and /or advanced classes.

Who May I Contact to Obtain More Information Concerning Gifted Services?

Please contact Mrs. Mary B. Whitehead, Special Education Director by calling 205-652-9605, via fax at 205-652-9641, or by emailing mbwhitehead@sumter.k12.al.us.


To make a referral, please contact your child's teacher, school guidance counselor, or Special Education Director.


The Sumter County Board of Education shall prohibit discrimination against any student on the above basis with respect to his/her participation in the gifted program.

For each student referred, information is gathered in the areas of aptitude, characteristics, and performance. The information is entered into a matrix where points are assigned according to established criteria. The matrix is utilized as a tool for determining eligibility for gifted services.

Title IX Discrimination Statement

Sumter County Public School System is committed to equal opportunity in employment and education and does not discriminate on the basis of sex. race, color, religion, or national origin, or against qualified handicapped persons and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. It is the policy of Sumter County Public Schools to be in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which provides that: "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Inquiries concerning this policy may be directed to Hermania Woods, Federal Programs and Title IX Coordinator at hlittle@sumter.k12.al.us or 205-652-2271 xt.1212; 504 Coordinator, Mary B. Whitehead at mbwhitehead@sumter.k12.al.us or 205-652-9605 xt.1101

504 Overview

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is a civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination/harassment on the basis of a disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.  In particular, Section 504 provides that:

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance....

29 U.S.C. § 794(a) (1973).

The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.  FAPE consists of education, related aids/services, and accommodations designed to meet the student’s individual needs. Section 504 requires a school district to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of such students to the same extent as the needs of students without disabilities are met.

The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made on the basis of an individual inquiry. The Section 504 regulations define a physical or mental impairment as any physiological or psychological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitor-urinary; lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation,  organic brain  syndrome,  emotional or mental illness,  and specific learning disabilities. The regulations do not set forth an exhaustive list of specific diseases and conditions that may constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of such a list. 

Major life activities, for purposes of Section 504 eligibility, include functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be major life activities for purposes of Section 504.

The protections of Section 504 extend to individuals who satisfy the eligibility requirements of Section 504. At the elementary and secondary school level, determining whether a child is a qualified disabled student under Section 504 begins with the evaluation process.

Section 504 requires the use of evaluation procedures that ensure that children are not misclassified; unnecessarily labeled as having a disability; or incorrectly placed, based on inappropriate selection, administration, or interpretation of evaluation materials.  If a school district re-evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 504 regulation at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determines that the student's mental or physical impairment no longer substantially limits his/her ability to learn or any other major life activity, the student is no longer eligible for services under Section 504.

Public elementary and secondary schools must employ procedural safeguards regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of persons, who because of disability, need or are believed to need special instruction or related services.