Huntsville City Schools' Special Education Services mission is to equip students with the skills to enter a college or career field and participate in their community in meaningful and positive ways with maximum independence. To assist students and families in reaching future goals, HCS provides specially designed instruction and related services that are designed to focus on the individual strengths and needs of each student.


Huntsville City Schools recognizes that each student is an individual with unique learning and social characteristics. We strive to provide dynamic program services in a safe and nurturing environment. Our educators provide specially designed instruction to address the academic, physical, social, behavioral, and emotional needs of every child.  Our goal is for all student to reach their potential and prepared to enter a college or career program and be active members of their community. 

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Gifted and Talented Education

Dr. Elizabeth Long
Director of Special Education
Office: 256-963-9789
Location: Chapman Elementary

Office Hours: Mon-Fri | 8AM-4PM (Regular)
Office Fax: 256-428-6871
View Department Staff Listing


Special Education FAQs

What is special education?

Special education is specially designed instruction provided to students who qualify for services under one of the 13 areas of eligibility according to the Alabama Administrative Code. Special education services may also include related and supplementary aids and services as appropriate that address the individualized needs of students. Related services, including Speech/Language services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Behavioral/Counseling services are also available, as deemed appropriate by referral from the IEP team. Supplementary aids and services are additional accommodations and supports available to assist students with disabilities.  In addition, assistive technology may be needed to provide supports needed for student to experience success.

What disabilities are served under special education?

In Alabama, there are 13 areas of eligibility that include:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Developmental Delay
  • Emotional Disability
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment
I am concerned that my child may have a disability. How do I request an evaluation for special education services?

Please reach out to your child's teacher, school administrator, guidance counselor, or contact our office at 256-963-9789. Each school has a Problem Solving Team (PST) that is an extension of Response to Instruction (RTI).  This team identifies students who demonstrate the need for additional intervention and supports prior to referral for special education services.  These services may prevent the need for SPE services and run concurrently during the evaluation period for SPE services to ensure that tiered instruction is provided with appropriate interventions to address student deficits.

We are relocating to Huntsville and would like information about special education services OR our child has an IEP. How do we obtain Special Education services?

Prior to enrollment, you may contact Special Education Services at 256-963-9789 for additional information about services HCS provides.  During enrollment, you may ask your school personnel about services and share any documentation you may have from a previous school/district with the school so that services may be considered/established.

How is Special Education availability determined?

Child Identification as outlined by the Alabama Administrative Code (AAC), includes CHILD FIND, Pre-referral Intervention Strategies in the General Education Class, Referral, Evaluations and Eligibility. Local Education Agency's (LEA's) serving children with disabilities must develop and implement procedures that ensure that all children within their jurisdiction, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who need special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated. Child Find also applies to children with disabilities who attend private schools, including children attending religious schools, within the LEA's jurisdiction, highly mobile children with disabilities (e.g., migrant children), homeless children, or children who are wards of the State and children who are suspected of having a disability and are in need of special education, even though they have not failed, been retained in a course or grade or are advancing from grade to grade.

My child has been found eligible for Special Education. What are the next steps in this process?

Written consent for services must be obtained following the determination of eligibility for special education. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed by a team that includes parents, a general educator, special educator, and a representative of the local education agency (LEA representative). Other professionals may also be included as part of the team as appropriate to the child's needs. The school-based IEP team will work with the parents and student to develop goals that address the child's unique educational needs and allow him to access the general education curriculum.

I would like a copy of my child's special education records.  Who do I contact?

Please contact Ms. Donna Harbin at 256-963-9793

My child attends a private school within the Huntsville City Schools district. Are special education services available?

HCS provides speech/language services for private-school students.  In addition, full evaluation services are available to determine if private school students within our district have a disability.

My child's doctor/therapist has provided a prescription for school-based services. What is my next step?

Please share this information with your child's teacher and/or school administrator. Prescriptions alone do not dictate school-based services. They may be considered as part of the evaluation process. All students must meet Alabama Administrative Code criteria for school-based special education services.

Special Education Support Staff

My child was recently evaluated outside of the school system and was diagnosed with a disability. Will the school system accept these results?

Please provide this information to your child's teacher and/or administrator. A meeting will be scheduled to review all information and consider results of an independent evaluation. Diagnostic criteria are different from eligibility for special education services (as determined by the Alabama Administrative Code). Therefore, even if pieces of the private evaluation are accepted, additional information may still be needed to meet State eligibility requirements.

My child is currently in a home school program, and I suspect he/she has a disability. How do I request an evaluation?

Please contact Ms. Donna Harbin in Special Education Services at 256-963-9793.

What are Extended School Year (ESY) services?

Extended School Year services are services provided beyond the traditional school year calendar at no cost to the parent. Data must show a documented regression of critical skills over breaks (i.e., Spring Break, summer, Christmas) that they cannot recoup within a reasonable period of re-teaching (6-8 weeks). The purpose of extended school year services is to maintain critical skills, not to promote new learning. If you think your child qualifies for extended school year services, please contact your child's teacher.  In addition, the need for ESY is considered at each IEP team meeting.​​

Special Education Records Notice

Public Notice:  Destruction of Special Education Records

“According to the Alabama Administrative Code r.290-8-9-8 (2) (h) an education agency must retain a copy of records for five (5) years after the termination of the special education program for which they were used. At the end of the five (5) year retention period, the education agency shall provide written notice to parents to inform them that the special education records are no longer needed and will be destroyed.” 

This serves as written notice to parents and former students that the destruction of special education and gifted records for students, regardless of age, who have not received special education or gifted services in the Huntsville City School system for five (5) or more years, will take place after the last day of June of each year.

A legal guardian, or former student if age 19 or older, must contact Special Education Services to arrange pick up of records.  Records MUST be picked up prior to the last day of June of the calendar year. Huntsville City Schools Special Education Services is located at 2006 Reuben Drive NE, , Huntsville, AL 35811.  The office contact number is (256) 963-9789

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