crayonsWelcome to the Special Education Department of Hancock County Schools. We provide an individualized approach to educational programming for approximately 800 students with special needs from ages 3 to 21. The primary goal of the Department of Special Education is to provide a quality school environment that promotes positive learning experiences.

To ensure success, special emphasis is placed on academic and social integration among all students, and effective partnerships between parents and students. This collaboration results in growth, friendships, and the 'acceptance of others' that transitions into interdependent community relationships in adult life.

Exceptionalities Served:

  • Autism;
  • Behavior/emotional disorders;
  • Blind/partially sighted;
  • Deaf-blindness or hard of hearing;
  • Gifted/exceptional gifted;
  • Mentally impaired;
  • Orthopedically impaired;
  • Other health impaired;
  • Preschool special needs;
  • Specific learning disabilities;
  • Speech/language impairments;
  • Traumatic brain injury.

Currently on staff we have:

  • 75 resource teachers;
  • 25 supervisory aides;
  • 9 speech therapists;
  • 2 school psychologists;
  • 3 occupational therapists;
  • Contract with East Liverpool City Hospital for physical therapy;
  • Autism coordinator;
  • Autism preschool coordinator;
  • Community and local school-based universal preschool special needs programs and one central 'Circle of Friends - Autism Program';
  • 7 specially equipped buses with aides;
  • 2 educational specialists.

97% fully certified in their field, and 85% hold Master's degrees.

Our goal is to have all students served in their home schools. However, exceptional children with low incidence rates are sometimes serviced at another local school.

Schools and exceptionalities served:

  • Allison Elementary
    Contact: Cindi Virtue, Assistant Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, mentally impaired (mild/moderate), severe/profound impaired, preschool special needs, speech, gifted, vision, hearing, occupational/physical therapy.
  • New Manchester
    Contact: Chris Humberson, Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, gifted, speech, preschool special needs, vision, hearing, occupational/physical therapy.
  • Broadview
    Contact: Linda Spencer, Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, mentally impaired (mild), gifted, vision, hearing, occupational/physical therapy, preschool special needs.
  • Liberty
    Contact: Stephanie Brown, Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, speech, gifted, vision, hearing, occupational/physical therapy.
  • Weirton Heights Elementary
    Contact: Frank Carey, Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, mentally impaired (moderate), preschool special needs, Autism Circle of Friends Preschool, gifted, vision, speech, hearing, occupational/physical therapy.
  • Weir Middle
    Contact: Dawn Petrovich, Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, mentally impaired (mild, moderate, severe/profound), gifted, vision, hearing, speech, occupational/physical therapy.
  • Oak Glen Middle
    Contact: Ginger Green and Dave Smith, Assistant Principals
    All learning/behavior disabilities, mentally impaired (mild, moderate), gifted, vision, hearing, speech, occupational/physical therapy.
  • Weir High School
    Contact: Anthony Perri, Assistant Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, mentally impaired (mild, moderate, severe/profound), vision, hearing, speech, occupational/physical therapy.
  • Oak Glen High School
    Contact: Dan Enich, Assistant Principal
    All learning/behavior disabilities, mentally impaired (mild, moderate), vision, hearing, speech, occupational/physical therapy.
  • Rockefeller Career Center
    Contact: Gordon Anderson
    Learning support, 'Transition to Independence' program.


I. Assistive Technology

The Special Education Department is very excited to have an Assistive Technology Team for Hancock County Schools (HCATT).

Our philosophy is simple: to provide an Assistive Technology Team that is trained, equipped, and knowledgeable to support and be a resource for teachers, parents, and the child on devices that best meet that child's educational needs.

The goals of the HCATT team are as follows:

  • Evaluate a student's Assistive Technology/augmentative communication needs;
  • Research and recommend devices for the student;
  • Provide training on equipment;
  • Collaborate with teachers, parents, and agencies;
  • Disseminate information;
  • Establish a lending library to house a variety of resource materials.

Assistive Technology is defined as 'any device used to perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible.' These devices can be as complex as computers with screen reading software, or as simple as VelcroTM used in place of buttons or shoelaces.

Augmentative communication is an approach designed to support, enhance, or augment the communication of individuals who are not independently verbal in all situations.

The HCATT consists of professionals in the county that have an expertise in a variety of areas. At this time, the team members include special education teachers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and deaf/hard of hearing specialists. These professionals have established contacts and networks with other professionals in the field for additional resources.


Debbie Budash, HCATT coordinator

II. Home-Based Program
s - offered in the preschool special needs and middle school SPH program.

III. Community Integration Program
- offered county-wide to students in specific program areas as written in each individual student's IEP.

IV. Preschool Special Needs

Ages: Three to five

A free educational service offered to increase the child's ability to develop skills needed before entering kindergarten.

Criteria for eligibility (must have a 25% delay in two or more of the following):

  • Thinking
  • Movement
  • Language
  • Play skills
  • Behavior

Services provided:

  • Home-based program
  • Classroom program
  • Speech
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Evaluations
  • Early childhood screening

Programs are currently based at the following schools:

  • Allison Elementary
  • Broadview Elementary
  • New Manchester Elementary
  • Weirton Heights Elementary

Additional co-operative programs with the following:

  • Northern Panhandle Head Start
  • Weirton Heights Day Care

V. Autism 'Circle of Friends' Preschool

Everyone Benefits from Inclusion
Children without disabilities also benefit from participation in inclusive environments. They are provided with opportunities to:

  • Learn more realistic and accurate views about individuals with disabilities;
  • Develop positive attitudes toward others who are different from themselves;
  • Learn altruistic behaviors and when and how to use such behaviors;
  • Model individuals who successfully achieve despite challenges.

Program Philosophy
The Circle of Friends is a positive and fun approach to preschool learning. The Circle of Friends program seeks to provide opportunities for the acquisition of developmentally appropriate skills in an integrated setting. Our program is structured to provide many opportunities throughout the day to promote the development of social and communication skills. The Circle of Friends Preschool encourages family participation and community exploration.

This preschool program is a partnership between the Hancock County Schools and the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall University.

Learning through Play
The goal of our program is to meet the developmental learning needs of all of our students by proving a fun, child-oriented environment with a warm, caring, and well-trained staff that will ensure high levels of child engagement throughout each day. The structure of our classroom and the methods of teaching are from research-based best practices in the fields of autism and early childhood development.


Karen Randolph, Circle of Friends preschool coordinator

IX. Co-Teaching Model - all schools provide a co-teaching model of instruction for reading/language arts and math in the regular education setting. A special and regular educator co-plan, co-instruct, and co-assess a group of students with diverse needs in the same general education classroom. The individual student's IEP determines the placement for instruction, academic support, and other needs.

VI. WV Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) - counselor available two days per week at JD Rockefeller Career Center. Call Jennifer Meeker at (304) 564-3820 for more information.

VII. Parent Training - offered to provide families with an understanding of the special education process with an emphasis on partnerships between educators and parents.

VIII. Transition - The process of preparing students for the world of work after high school is part of the IEP process. Transition planning includes measurable post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills.


Andrea Dulaney, Transition Coordinator

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