Welcome to Special Education

  • Special Education

    Special education and related services are provided to eligible students with disabilities ages 3 to 21 and to students who qualify for gifted services Kindergarten to grade 12.

    Special education in Topeka Public Schools is specially designed instruction that enables students to make continuous progress in school. Special education services are present within each school and are an integral part of Topeka Public school system. The Topeka Public Schools philosophy is reflected in the practice of responsibly including students in educational and social activities to the maximum extent appropriate, based on their individual learning needs.  We advocate for students with disabilities to receive inclusive instruction with their non-disabled peers and support them in their learning. 


    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

    Reauthorized by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in December 2004, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA-04) guides all special education practices in the United States. IDEA-04 mandates that each student identified as eligible for special education services receive a "free and appropriate public education" in the "least restrictive environment" and be afforded "due process rights" as delineated in the legislation.

    The Topeka Public Schools uses compliant practices as described in the Kansas Special Education Process Handbook that is published by the Kansas State Department of Education, which is available online.



    The evaluation process establishes whether or not a child has an exceptionality (disability or giftedness) and has a need for special education and related services. A variety of tools and strategies are used to gather information to determine whether or not a student is eligible for special education. Students must meet criteria to be enrolled in special education:

    1. Does the student have a disability?
    2. Does the student need specially designed instruction to benefit from the general education curriculum?

    Screenings and Referrals

    Early Childhood

    Ages 3 years to 5 ​years: Call the Early Childhood Special Education department at 235-7261 to schedule a screening.

    The Topeka Public Schools Early Childhood Special Education Team, works with community-based day care and pre-school providers to inform these agencies of the child find process. Community-based staff is encouraged to refer children and their families to Topeka Public Schools if a concern arises related to the presence of potential disability or developmental delay.

    Students ages 5 to 21: including those who are highly mobile, migrant and/or homeless, are referred for special education evaluation by school personnel when a disability is suspected. Parents are notified and involved in the process when a concern first arises.

    Parents may also request a special education evaluation and the district is required to respond in writing. The need for special education and related services is determined in consultation with parents at each Topeka Public school building site following the completed evaluation process. Parents are encouraged to contact their child's neighborhood schools' principal or school psychologist with questions about special education services and the evaluation process.

    Private School Students

    Topeka Public Schools follows state and federal processes for evaluation of students who may have exceptionalities and the provision of special education services to those students who are determined to be eligible. 

    Records Request

    Special Education records are maintained by Topeka Public Schools and provided to school districts upon request when a student enrolls in a Kansas school or in a school in another state.  Contact information Shelly Pruitt  phone 235-7600 or email spruitt@tps501.org.

    New to Topeka Public Schools

    If you are new to the district and your child has an IEP please contact Judith Richter 235-7599.

    Guidelines for Peer Models for PIP Classrooms

    • Child must turn 3 on or before August 31st
    • Children turning 5 on or before August 31st are not eligible (kindergarten holdouts)
    • Child must pass the district’s developmental screening in the typical range for his/her age    
    • At least one parent must live in the 501 school district
    • Exception: If a school district employee lives outside of the Topeka Public School district, a child may be approved to be a peer model if the child meets the age and developmental screening guidelines – if there are openings in the PIP classrooms that have not been filled by September 30th.
    • Peer models placements will be reviewed on a yearly basis.




  • Harrington

    Dr. Jennifer Harrington

    General Director of Special Education and Special Services

    624 S.W. 24th St.

    Topeka, KS 66611