Special Education


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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

Webkidss Resources

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. Mandy Fox
  2. Dr. Jerri Haynes
  3. Alex & Rebecca Green
  4. April & Tom Green
  5. Vickie Unruh
  6. Erin Wagner
  7. Sharon Tallman
  8. Rick & Mary Claiborn
  9. Dr. Robert Scott
  10. Dr. Jacqueline Lubin
  11. Lynnette Bernasconi
  12. Carolyn Young
  13. Jodi Coker


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

Toepfer Board Room

July July 31, 2017                
August August 28, 2017            
September September 25, 2017
October October 30, 2017
November November 27, 2017
December December 18, 2017
January  January 29, 2018
February February 26, 2017

HWCKSEC December Updates:

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

The Hays West Central Special Education Cooperative and the Special Education Advisory Council will be hosting the 1st Annual Hays Special Needs Resource Fair on October 19 from 5-8pm and October 23rd from 5-8pm. The event will be held at Lincoln Elementary on October 19 and O’Loughlin Elementary on October 23. This is a free event. Parents, caregivers and teachers will have the opportunity to visit with various community organizations that provide services and/or activities for children with unique challenges.


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


Special Education Coordinator:
Kandy Setter
Phone: 785-623-2400
Fax: 785-623-2414
Special Education Manager:
Karen Smith
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

In-service Handouts

Goal Setting

  IEP Bootcamp

Impact of Secondary Trauma

ESI & Safety (Para In-service)

2017 SPED Law Update (Certified )







Para In-service agenda for October 9

8:15-10:15am: Keynote- Impact of mindfulness training on Secondary Trauma (Rosemary Klish, Family Therapist)

10:15-11:15am: Legal issues and laws relating to School Safety and Special Education (Sarah Loquist, KASB Attorney)

11:15-12:45pm: Lunch

12:45-2:45pm: Fostering student independence, increasing student engagement and Decreasing behavior (Lindy McDaniel, STAR Educator)