Special Education

Meet your Director *  Directory *  Employment 

Golden Apple Award Nomination Form



Welcome to the Hays West Central Kansas Special Education CooperativeIDEA_MR_2015_400

Our cooperative provides special education services to all students who are eligible for special education and gifted services between the ages of 3-21, including private school students, in the districts of Hays, Ellis, LaCrosse and Victoria. The cooperative has approximately 68 certified staff member which includes Special Education Teachers, School Psychologists, Speech/Language Pathologists, Certified Occupational Therapist, Certified Physical Therapist, Vision Consultant, and Assistive Technology Specialist.  The Cooperative also employs approximately 90 paraeducators.

The purpose of the HWCKSEC is to identify students who are eligible for and need special education services.  Special programs and services are then provided to assist these students in reaching their potential.  All provided services must meet the requirements and specifications stated in federal and state statues and further clarified in the Kansas Special Education Process Handbook at:  http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/SES/PH/PH-complete.pdf

Additionally, the Hays West Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative must make assurances in the provision of these services.  These assurances include confidentiality of student records, provision of students’ and parents’ due process rights, nondiscriminatory and multi-disciplinary evaluations and provision of services in the least restrictive environment or most normal setting to the maximum extent appropriate. The cooperative also:

  • Sponsors Helping Hands, a student-run business
  • Partners with High Plains Mental Health to provide special services for students placed at Westside School 
  • Provides work study student experiences for special education students
  • Has an Autism Support Team
  • Provides a Transition Program
  • Collaborates with Early Childhood Connections/Head Start and other community based preschools to provide necessary Early Childhood services to identified children age 3-5
  • Provides a professional special education library for staff and parents

The re-authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) and the updating of the Kansas State Regulations in 2008, continues the commitment to ensure that all students have access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Special education categorical areas include: autism, deaf-blindness, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, orthopedic impairment, multiple disabilities, other health impairment, emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, developmentally delayed, and gifted.  The foundation of IDEA is its requirement that schools develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each disabled student.  The IEP requirement combines the evaluation of disabled students with the achievement of specific goals.  These goals are typically set by the student’s parents, school administrators and regular and special education teachers working together. Visit the Kansas State Department of Education Student Support Services website at: http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=506 for more information, including Federal Guidelines, Parent Rights and other helpful information.

TASN Resources:

TASN Webinar Series: De-Escalation of Behavior

This series of ten modules designed to provide professional learning communities with training in the Cycle of Escalating Behavior.

Module 1 – Introduction to Managing Escalation Behavior

Module 2 – Signs of Escalation

Module 3 – Escalation: Early Intervention

Module 4 – Escalation Reaction

Module 5 – Crisis Management

Module 6 – Dealing with Student Non-Compliance

Module 7 – Dealing with Student Disruption

Module 8 – Dealing with Student Disrespect

Module 9 – Dealing with Provocative Student Behavior

Module 10 – Dealing with Aggressive and Fighting Behavior


Gifted Education

Gifted education in the Hays West Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative is provided through a program entitled S.P.A.R.K.  This service is a special education service and therefore follows the special education process and state laws.  If a student qualifies for gifted services, they are given the opportunity to attend the SPARK program.  The COOP currently has 3 gifted facilitators to provide services to identified students. The program varies depending upon grade levels as follows:

IMG_1424Kdg. =1/2 day pull-out program

Grades 1-5 = one full day/ week pull-out program

Middle School = 2-3 class periods/ week

High School= 1 class period/week

Each student and the type of gifted service that the student receives is ultimately decided and agreed upon by the team of school personnel and parents, keeping in mind the student’s best interest.

HWCKSEC Advisory Group

The Advisory group consists of a parent representative from each of the district’s schools, special education staff, Board of Education members, and District Office special education leadership. The Council includes approximately 10 people and is responsible for communication and advocacy. 


  1. Sarah Rankin
  2. Mandy Fox
  3. Alex & Rebecca Green
  4. April & Tom Green
  5. Vickie Unruh
  6. Naomi Dinkel
  7. Erin Wagner
  8. Sharon Tallman
  9. Rick & Mary Claiborn
  10. Monte & Angel Smith


HWCKSEC Council of Superintendents

Superintendents of member districts advise and support the delivery of services that are supported by federal, state and local funding as members of the Superintendents Council.

John Thissen
Robert Young
David Ottley
Bill Keeley

Council of Superintendents Meeting Schedule

Month Regular Meetings
August August 29, 2016, 8:00am-10:00am
Toepfer Board Room
September September 30, 2016, 8:00am-10:00amToepfer Board Room
October October 31, 2016, 8:00am-10:00amToepfer Board Room
November November 28, 2016, 8:00am-10:00am
Toepfer Board Room
January January 30, 2017, 8:00am-10:00am
Toepfer Board Room
February February 27, 2017, 8:00am-10:00am
Toepfer Board Room
March  March 27, 2017, 8:30am-10:30am
Toepfer Board Room
April  April 24, 2017, 8:30am-10:30am Toepfer Board Room

 HWCKSEC proposed goals for 2016-19 school years strategic plan

HWCKSEC draft goals are established to ensure that a plan of action is created, monitored, and successfully implemented to fulfill our mission of growing together and providing quality education to all students. We would appreciate any feedback you can provide regarding the draft goals for the HWCKSEC.  Copy of Coop BOE presentation-December

If anyone believes that a child may qualify for and need special services, please contact:

Hays West Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative at 785-623-2400

SPED Resources

  1. Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Kansas
  2. Annual Medicaid Notification
  3. SPED Parental Rights in English
  4. SPED Parental Rights in Spanish
  5. SPED Parental Rights Vietnamese

Special Education Director:
Dr. Raj Sharma
Phone: 785-623-2400
Fax: 785-623-2414


Special Education Manager:
Karen Smith
Phone: 785-623-2400
Fax: 785-623-2414
 School Psychologist Assistant:
Gabriela Schmidt
Phone: 785-623-2400
Fax: 785-623-2414
                                                      Support and Resources for Parents  
Northwest Kansas Down Syndrome Society
email: nwkdss@gmail.com
facebook: nwkdss
Address:  NWKDSS, P.O. Box 382, Hays KS
Contact info:  Alex Green, 785-766-3483
Autism Family Support Group
Email: sassygmct@gmail.com
Contact info: April Green, 785-650-1002

“Webkidss” training available for staff in 2017-18 school years:

April 21: Basic Webkidss In-service

  • Hays SPED certified SPED staff: Mandatory
  • Ellis, Victoria, LaCrosse and private schools Certified SPED staff: Highly recommended but optional (require local admin approval).

 July 14: Full day Webkidss In-service

  • HWCKSEC all coop certified staff and administrators: Optional (Certified staff will be paid stipends)

 August 15: Full day Webkidss In-service

  • HWCKSEC all coop certified staff and administrators: Mandatory for certified staff