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Special Education

Richard VanHuss
Assistant Director of Schools / Director of Special Education

ECS provides special educational support and resources for children ages three through 21 with various types of disabilities. All students are evaluated as part of the comprehensive intervention program, but parents may request additional evaluation if they believe their child has a disability. If a student is eligible for services, a support team will work together to develop and implement an Individualized Education Program (for both high and low achievers) to provide additional support or enrichment.

The special education program teaches grade level standards, life skills and job training while facilitating social development. ECS employs 18 SPED teachers and 3 speech language pathologists and contracts with multiple occupational and physical therapists. Seventeen percent of students qualify to receive special education services. Thanks to community sponsorship, a sensory room providing stimulating and calming activities is now available to students in grades 6-12, and to students at Harold McCormick Elementary.


  • Speech, Language, and Vision
  • Gifted Services
  • Occupational/Physical Therapy/Psychological Testing Services
  • Special Education Transportation
  • Transition School to Work Program
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Program (9-12)

Child Find

Elizabethton City Schools provides services for children with disabilities residing within the city. Special Education services are provided for children eligible in one or more of the following areas: Learning disabled, developmentally delayed, those with intellectual disabilities, visually impaired, blind, hearing impaired, deaf, traumatic brain injury, emotionally disturbed, physically impaired, health impaired, autistic, ADHD, speech/language impaired and gifted.

If you know of a child, or have a child between the ages of 3 - 21 not currently receiving services, please contact the Director of Special Education at 423-547-8000.

Gifted Child Find

We’re looking for potentially highly intellectual students

Belief Statement
Intellectual giftedness is found throughout diverse populations and crosses all economic and cultural boundaries. Early identification and intervention are often required to meet the unique needs of these children.

Eligibilty Definition and Criteria
A student whose intellectual abilities and potential for achievement are so outstanding that special provisions are required to meet his/her educational needs is considered gifted. Eligibility for services as a gifted student is based on evaluation in each of the following component areas:

Academic Achievement
Creative Thinking
Academic Performance

Characteristics of Giftedness
Although no two gifted students are exactly alike, these are some characteristics which gifted children share (in various combinations). Listed below are a few characteristics gifted students may exhibit:

Large storehouse of information on school or non-school topics
History of outstanding achievement as evidenced by grades, standardized test scores, etc.

Creative Thinking
Effective (often innovative) strategies for recognizing and solving problems
Unusually keen sense of humor (gentle or hostile)
Frustration with traditional thinking

Evidence of desire to learn
Intense (sometimes unusual) interests

Academic Performance
Questions, experiments, explores, challenges others
Unusual emotional depth, leadership, and ability to deal with diversity

Cognition / Intelligence
Highly expressive and effective use of words, numbers, symbols, etc.
Logical approaches to figuring out solutions. Impatient with repetition

The Referral Process
Anyone, including the parent(s), guardian, or community professional may refer a student for screening and possible evaluation. A screening team of educational professionals considers screening information, previous evaluations, and teacher/parent input to determine if a comprehensive evaluation is needed. The team’s decision is based on multiple data sources. An assessment team will determine the types of assessment needed. All procedural safeguards are followed to ensure evaluation procedures are non-discriminatory.

Services for Gifted Students
Special services are often required to meet the unique needs of gifted children. A team of professionals and the child’s parent(s) plan the student’s educational program based on the assessment information obtained through the evaluation process.

For more information contact:
Director of Special Education, Testing, and Guidance Services

EasyIEP Link for Teachers

Cyclone Prints

In 2017, thanks to grant funding, the EHS Transition School to Work class launched its Cyclone Prints shop, in which students design, print and market school memorabilia to benefit their class. This allows students to develop vocational skills for postsecondary success. They use the funds to purchase iPads and other devices which support social development. Cyclone Prints is now working in coordination with the new Kids Like Us Community Center and local businesses.

All Abilities Playground

In fall 2017, West Side held a ribbon cutting on its new All Abilities Playground. Special thanks are given to the WSE Parent Teacher Organization; Sam, Marlo, Drew and Robin LaPorte; the City of Elizabethton; and Walmart of Elizabethton; Michael and Jackie Harris of Johnson City Dairy Queen; Dr. Rakesh and Eketa Patel; Stephen and Jamie Scott; Modern Woodmen of Elizabethton; and all the parents, students and teachers who organized and staffed fundraisers and made donations.