• Special Education

    Knox County Schools works together with families to provide special education services to students – ages 3 to 22 – to ensure their academic, social, emotional, medical, behavioral, adaptive, and physical needs are met in accordance with State and Federal laws.

    Prioritizing Success for Every Student, Special Education isn’t just an office at KCS – it is a set of specifically designed services coordinated and provided by experts and professionals to ensure approximately 9,000 special education students reach their maximum potential.

    Please contact your child’s teacher or principal or call our office at 865-594-1535 for more information.

    *This website is still under construction and some of the information provided herein may be incomplete. KCS thanks you for your patience as we work toward improving this service!

  • Special Education Process

    Initial Evaluation
    Eligibility IEP Meeting
    IEP Plan Development Meeting
    IEP Implementation
    Annual Review

    Referral – Parents Provide Written, Informed Consent for Evaluation

    Initial Evaluation – Must be conducted within 60 calendar days of receipt of parental consent.

    Eligibility IEP Meeting – Parents should receive copies of all evaluations before this meeting.

    IEP Plan Development Meeting – Must be conducted within 30 days of an affirmative eligibility determination.

    IEP Implementation – Must go into effect on the agreed-upon start date.

    Annual Review – Must occur within 12 months following the initial annual IEP meeting.

    Re-evaluation – Must occur at least once every three years.

    Additional information for Tennessee Special Education Timelines can be found here and here.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • My child may need special education services.

  • I think my child may have a disability.

  • I think my child may be gifted.

  • I do / do not have a physician’s diagnosis.

  • I have consented to a disability evaluation.

  • I want to know more about parental rights.

  • My child is not eligible for special education services.

  • What is a 504 Plan?

  • I disagree with my child’s evaluation results.

  • My child is eligible for special education services.

  • I have an IEP Meeting scheduled.

  • Can a student be involved in developing their own IEP?

  • What is an IEP?

  • How do IEPs differ from 504 plans?

  • I disagree with my child’s IEP and placement.

  • My child is receiving special education services through an IEP.

  • How do modifications, accommodations, and related services differ?

  • What are Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) provisions?

  • I’m concerned with my (IEP / 504) student’s behavior.

  • I’m concerned about my (IEP / 504) student’s suspension.

  • My specific question hasn’t been addressed.

  • The State of Tennessee recognizes specific disability categories for the identification of students with disabilities. The categories are shown below and the state’s special education framework can be found here.

    A student may become eligible for special education services if an evaluation determines the student meets the criteria for one or more of these disabilities and specialized instruction is required.

    This Glossary outlines common terminology associated with special education.


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  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states to have, “Policies and procedures [in place] to ensure that all children with disabilities…regardless of the severity of their disability…in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated.” 

    In Tennessee, ChildFind programs support the identification, location, and evaluation of all children (aged 3 to 22) with disabilities including those enrolled in public, private or home schools and those who are homeless, migrant, English learning, and/or incarcerated regardless of the severity of their disability. Parents concerned about a school-aged child’s educational needs should reach out to the zoned school’s School Support Team.

    Early ChildFind programs support the identification, location, and evaluation of children, specifically those aged 3 to 5, to determine eligibility and need for special education services. A request for Early ChildFind referrals can be found here

    Knox County Schools uses three grade bands to offer special education:

    • Preschool Special Education for children aged 3 to 5 showing cognitive (thinking and learning); language and communication; adaptive (self-help skills); social-emotional; and/or motor developmental delays;

    • Elementary Special Education for students in elementary, primary, and intermediate school; and

    • Secondary Special Education, including vocational or semi professional training, for students in middle and high school.

    The programs, services, and supports provided within those grade bands include, but are not limited to, those listed below.


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  • Sue OwnbyConfidential Special Education Family Support is offered through the Office of the Ombudsman, which serves as a navigator for families, employees, and the community to resolve issues or concerns through mediation and education.

    The office hears and discusses the presenting concern, and after determining the need provides support in finding appropriate options and solutions.

    Sue Ownby is the Special Education (Family / Parent) Liaison and serves as the primary point of contact for concerns regarding students who receive special education services, have a 504, or are suspected of needing additional support. She and other staff are available to discuss, clarify, and / or help resolve school or district concerns, problems, and / or complaints with anyone who writes, emails, or calls the office or completes the online request form.

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  • The Special Education Resource Library is rich with resources that have been selected to support and inform the work of parents, families, and students.

    It is organized and searchable by topic.

  • DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is intended to serve as a general guide for parents and students to navigate special education in Knox County Schools. It is not intended to serve as legal advice. No information provided on this website shall be interpreted to supersede or modify any aspect of state law, federal law, Knox County School Board Policy, or any other law, policy, or procedure to which Knox County Schools is subject. If you have specific questions about Knox County Schools programs or whether your student could benefit from special education services, please contact your child’s zoned school principal.