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Student Services

The Department of Student Services provides a multidisciplinary team approach when evaluating students to determine need for specialized instruction and/or services. This team approach is sustained when providing special education services to children who meet eligibility requirements. Special education services are available to all students who may qualify from age three through the completion of eighth grade. Our goal is to provide an appropriate level of services and supports that will enable each student to demonstrate academic growth. We believe that a collaborative partnership between school and home will best serve all students who attend Winnetka Public Schools. We are committed to:

  • Identifying students who may need specialized instruction early and then developing appropriate interventions as warranted.
  • Creating and implementing Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) for students who require special education services.
  • Providing a continuum of services within the least restrictive environment (LRE) where students who require special education services will have opportunity to receive instruction in general education classrooms to the greatest extent possible.


Any student who is experiencing difficulties in school may be referred to the school student support team (SST) by a teacher, parent, or principal. The team will review the referral information and collaborate with the classroom teacher to develop appropriate classroom interventions and strategies. The problem solving team will also determine when the need for evaluation is warranted. When evaluation for special education eligibility is considered, parents will be notified and will participate in the process of determining what types of evaluation may be appropriate. This process will include acquisition of written parental consent before any evaluation is initiated.


Eligibility for special education services is determined via a school-based team assessment process that may include data collected from Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS), formal and informal evaluation measures, classroom observations, and student record reviews. Information from independent evaluations will also be considered during the eligibility process. Eligibility for special education services is based upon the student's educational needs, the adverse affect any disability may have on academic performance, and whether students meet eligibility criteria as established by state and federal guidelines. When the evaluation process has been completed, parents will be invited to attend a formal meeting where the assessment data is presented and reviewed, and special education eligibility is determined. If the student is eligible for special education services, an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) will be developed.

Integrated Service Delivery Model

This is a visual representation of the placements in which special education services can be provided. The glossary offers basic definitions of placements and other relevant services outlined in this visual representation. A team of individuals makes the determination of where special education services will be offered. This is based on student goal areas and the recommended minutes of services needed to meet these goals. Our goal is to provide services within an integrated service delivery model where students are educated with their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible.

In addition to the visual continuum, here are special education service descriptors.

If you have questions about the evaluation process and/or supports or services that may be available to your child, please contact your building principal or the Director of Student Services.

Contact Us

Denise Matthews
Director of Student Services, Equity & Inclusion and Section 504 Coordinator

Melissa Lind
Assistant Director of Student Services, Equity and Inclusion

Carolin Huh
Administrative Assistant to the Director of Student Services, Equity & Inclusion


Student records information sheet (PDF)

ISBE Procedural Safeguards (Revised June 2022) (PDF)

Section 504 Policy, Procedures, and Procedural Safeguards (PDF)



Students with disabilities may receive related services as part of their individual education programs (IEPs). The Winnetka Public Schools will maintain related service logs that record the type and number of minutes of the related service(s) administered to such students. Copies of any related service logs will be available to parents/guardians at their child’s annual review IEP meeting. Parents/guardians of students with disabilities may also request copies of their child’s related service logs at any time.


Speech/Language Pathologists

Licensed and/or certified speech language pathologists provide speech and language services designed to remediate areas of deficit for children diagnosed with speech or language delays.

Special Education Faculty

Highly trained and experienced special educators provide direct instruction in reading, writing, spelling, math, listening, and learning strategies and are able to adjust instruction and interventions based on student need, student progress, classroom observation and clinical judgment.

Social Workers

Licensed school and clinical social workers provide evaluations and treatment services to children. These clinicians also provide students with an opportunity to participate in treatment groups for a variety of needs.


Licensed school and clinical psychologists provide consultative services to faculty and staff and complete comprehensive diagnostic evaluations for students when warranted. The psychologist works closely with the family and social workers and assists in the coordination of school services for the child.


School nurses perform vision and hearing screenings. School nurses also oversee health problems, provide medication management, and health assessments for students.

TrueNorth Educational Cooperative 804 (formerly NSSED)

The Winnetka Public Schools District 36 is a member of the TrueNorth (formerly NSSED) special education cooperative. TrueNorth provides specialized programming and services to our students who require more support than that typically offered in a public school. This includes, but is not limited to, early childhood programs, educational and life skills (ELS) programs, therapeutic day school programs, services for students who have autism spectrum disorders. Assistive technology assessments and services are also available. TrueNorth also provides professional development opportunities and consultation services to school faculty and staff.

Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization (NSSEO)

The Winnetka Public Schools District 36 is a member of the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization (NSSEO). NSSEO provides diagnostic and itinerant services for students who have hearing impairments and also provides specialized programs for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Early Childhood Screening Services

Early childhood screenings are offered once a trimester to three, four, and five year olds. This comprehensive preschool screening is offered to Winnetka residents who register for this service. Included are quick assessments for motor skills, cognitive and pre academic skills, and speech/language development. Members of the screening team will also assess a student’s social and emotional development. Hearing and vision screening is included when certified staff are available to complete this component. For more information and/or to request a screening, please see this page.

Homebound instruction

Any child who is expected to be absent from school for two or more consecutive weeks for medical reasons may be eligible for homebound instruction. A medical referral is warranted for this service, which most often consists of 5 hours of instruction each week. Please contact the Director of Student Services for more information about homebound services.

If you have any questions about the programs of services that are offered at Winnetka Public Schools, please call Denise Matthews, Director of Student Services, Equity & Inclusion at 847-446-9400 ext. 2622.

If you have any questions about the programs of services that are offered at Winnetka Public Schools, please call Denise Matthews, Director of Student Services, Equity & Inclusion at 847-446-9400 ext. 2622.

District Services for Preschool-Aged Children

District families with children ages 3, 4 or 5 years old who are concerned regarding their child’s development may request an early childhood screening. District 36 is partnering with TrueNorth (formerly NSSED) for screenings, and they are held monthly by TrueNorth. The screening is a quick assessment of motor skills, cognitive and pre academic skills, and speech/language development. Results from this screening will determine if further evaluation is warranted.

To request a screening, please complete this form.

Proportionate Share

The District receives Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) federal funds.  A “proportionate share” amount of those funds is used to support students with disabilities in homeschool, private or parochial schools within the District 36 attendance area.  The District also performs “Child Find” services for those students who are homeschooled or are enrolled in private/parochial schools within the District 36 boundaries. For more information on the provision of special education services to students who are enrolled in homeschool or private/parochial schools, please reach out to Denise Matthews at  or contact the Building Principal at the private/parochial school.

Section 504

Students who may qualify under 504 must meet eligibility guidelines of: having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of physical or mental impairment; or is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment. Denise Matthews at  or contact the Building Principal if you need additional information.