Special Education Services


Special Education is an instructional approach that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of an individual child with a disability.  The Student Service Department Team supports Pickens County students and families in a variety of ways.  Families are invited to visit their webpage for more information.


The Georgia Department of Education (Division for Special Education Services and Supports) provides necessary infrastructure and supports for leaders, teachers, and families to meet the whole child needs of each student improving student outcomes and school climate resulting in an increased quality of life and workforce ready future. We must commit to effective collaboration across agencies ​​and school-home partnerships to support local school districts in their efforts to provide special education and related services for students with disabilities. ​


Federal regulations define Special Education as specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability. Specially Designed Instruction means the appropriate adaptation of content, methodology, or delivery of instruction. In turn, related services are provided to assist students to benefit from their specially designed program. Students who are identified as having one of the specific disability exceptionalities as determined by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team are eligible for special education and related services. The Individualized Education Act (IDEA) requires that the disability adversely affect a child’s performance at school.

Every child in Pickens County has a right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). However, some students have disabilities that make it difficult for them to learn in the public school program without special education services. The Pickens County School District assures the public that all students with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21 will have appropriate programs of instruction and related services designed to meet their individual needs.

Special Ed Referral for PreK and Private School Students

Click the button below to download the referral packet for special education services in Pickens County Schools.

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Special Needs Scholarship Program (SB10)

The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) Program is a parental choice program for special needs students attending Georgia public schools who are served under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan. Click for detailed information regarding this program

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Phone # 706-253-1772 Fax # 706-253-1712
Name Title Email Address
Kristy Bone Chief of Student Services kristybone@pickenscountyschools.org
Amy Brown Behavior Specialist amybrown@pickenscountyschools.org
Paula Gilleland Special Ed Coordinator paulagilleland@pickenscountyschools.org
Amber Mulkey School Psychologist ambermulkey@pickenscountyschools.org
Joyner Freeman School Psychologist joynerfreeman@pickenscountyschools.org
Patti Friedman Compliance Specialist pattifriedman@pickenscountyschools.org
Jennifer Clark Administrative Assistant jenniferclark@pickenscountyschools.org
Michael Baker Special Ed Coordinator michaelbaker@pickenscountyschools.org
Anita Keener Lead Therapist anitakeener@pickenscountyschools.org

Special Education Delivery Models in the Pickens County School System

  • Consultation - The special education teacher consults with the general education teacher and student on a scheduled basis to meet the needs of the student. The student typically remains in the general education classroom environment during the instructional day.
  • Co-Teaching - Special education personnel and general education personnel work together in the regular classroom to meet the needs of all students in the classroom whether they are considered disabled or non-disabled.
  • Alternative Placement (Resource) - Students with disabilities receive instruction in a special education resource room for individualized assistance during a portion of the academic day. Students will typically spend parts of their instructional day in the general education environment.
  • Alternative Placement (Self-Contained) - Students with disabilities receive their whole instructional day in the special education setting, typically seeking social interaction opportunities with their disabled peers.
  • Separate Facility - Students with disabilities are provided special education instruction in a separate building/facility.
  • Homebound Special Education Instruction – a certified special education teacher provides instruction at home for those special education students who are unable to attend school because of severe medical reasons. A licensed physician must verify that their medical condition prohibits them from attending school.
  • The amount of time that a student spends in special education/related services is determined by the student’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Typically, a team, including school personnel and the parents, develops the IEP.
  • In addition to the special education program and related services, there are numerous activities available for Pickens County Special Education students, which may include:
    • Special Olympics– Offers students with intellectual and physical disabilities opportunities to compete at the local, area, state, and international levels in a variety of individual and team events.
    • Transitional Programs – Offers students with disabilities the opportunity to transition into higher education and/or workforce training.
  • Related Support Services are additional services required for a student to maximally benefit from special education. Services may include, but are not limited to: occupational therapy, physical therapy, adapted physical education, nursing services, assistive technology, and transportation.

The District complies with state requirements related to restraint and seclusion as set out in Georgia SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.35. Consistent with that rule, physical restraint will be used only in situations in which the student is in immediate danger to himself/herself or others and the student is not responsive to verbal directives or other less intensive de-escalation techniques. A parent or guardian will be notified in writing each time their student has been restrained. The District maintains written policies and procedures governing the use of restraint.

The Referral Process
The Response to Intervention (RTI) Team is a general education initiative and acts as a pre-referral process before a referral to special education is made. A Response to Intervention Team is in place at each school and is composed of pertinent staff members who meet to review their concerns and plan strategies to assist particular students in their general education classrooms and monitor those students’ progress. Parents are a part of this team and have to give consent before any student is evaluated for special education services. The Pickens County Special Education Department is working with each school to make the Referral Process from RTI more timely.
Least Restrictive Environment
Of all the terminology relating to special education, least restrictive environment (LRE) is probably the most difficult to understand. LRE means that when the IEP Team is deciding where a student should receive his or her special education services, the IEP Team should first consider the general education classroom with supplementary aids and services first and then proceed from there. Students with disabilities have a legal right to the greatest amount of inclusion, which is appropriate to their unique needs.
Due Process
Due Process under special education is a term used for a legal procedure that seeks to ensure the rights of parents if they believe the district has denied their child special education service. Parents or the School System can initiate due process when there is disagreement regarding a child’s identification, evaluation, eligibility, IEP or placement.
Mediation is a process provides a means by which the parents and school officials can resolve problems through consensus. It is an informal discussion between parents, school officials, and an impartial third party. Either parents or school officials can initiate mediation. Parents and school officials may or may not choose to have an attorney present.
The Preschool Special Education Program is based at Hill City Elementary.

Notice of Rights of Students and Parents Under Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as "Section 504," is a nondiscrimination statute enacted by the United States Congress. The purpose of Section 504 is to prohibit discrimination and to assure that disabled students have educational opportunities and benefits equal to those provided to non-disabled students.

For more information regarding Section 504, or if you have questions or need additional assistance, please contact your local system’s Section 504 Coordinator at the following address:

100 D.B. Carroll Street
Jasper, GA 30143

The implementing regulations for Section 504 as set out in 34 CFR Part 104 provide parents and/or students with the following rights:

  1. Your child has the right to an appropriate education designed to meet his or her individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students. 34 CFR 104.33.
  2. Your child has the right to free educational services except for those fees that are imposed on non-disabled students or their parents. Insurers and similar third parties who provide services not operated by or provided by the recipient are not relieved from an otherwise valid obligation to provide or pay for services provided to a disabled student. 34 CFR 104.33.
  3. Your child has a right to participate in an educational setting (academic and nonacademic) with non-disabled students to the maximum extent appropriate to his or her needs. 34 CFR 104.34.
  4. Your child has a right to facilities, services, and activities that are comparable to those provided for non-disabled students. 34 CFR 104.34.
  5. Your child has a right to an evaluation prior to a Section 504 determination of eligibility. 34 CFR 104.35.
  6. You have the right to not consent to the school system’s request to evaluate your child. 34 CFR 104.35.
  7. You have the right to ensure that evaluation procedures, which may include testing, conform to the requirements of 34 CFR 104.35.
  8. You have the right to ensure that the school system will consider information from a variety of sources as appropriate, which may include aptitude and achievement tests, grades, teacher recommendations and observations, physical conditions, social or cultural background, medical records, and parental recommendations. 34 CFR 104.35.
  9. You have the right to ensure that placement decisions are made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about your child, the meaning of the evaluation data, the placement options, and the legal requirements for least restrictive environment and comparable facilities. 34 CFR 104.35.
  10. If your child is eligible under Section 504, your child has a right to periodic reevaluations, including prior to any subsequent significant change of placement. 34 CFR 104.35.
  11. You have the right to notice prior to any actions by the school system regarding the identification, evaluation, or placement of your child. 34 CFR 104.36.
  12. You have the right to examine your child’s educational records. 34 CFR 104.36.
  13. You have the right to an impartial hearing with respect to the school system’s actions regarding your child's identification, evaluation, or educational placement, with opportunity for parental participation in the hearing and representation by an attorney. 34 CFR 104.36.
  14. You have the right to receive a copy of this notice and a copy of the school system’s impartial hearing procedure upon request. 34 CFR 104.36.
  15. If you disagree with the decision of the impartial hearing officer (school board members and other district employees are not considered impartial hearing officers), you have a right to a review of that decision according to the school system’s impartial hearing procedure. 34 CFR 104.36.
  16. You have the right to, at any time, file a complaint with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.