The Special Education department supports the Individual Educational Programs of students ages three through twenty-one years of age who are eligible for special education and related services within the district.

The special education services are provided on a continuum from the least restrictive to more restrictive environments and are contingent upon educational needs of the student. The department provides a full array of assessment and special education interventions for students requiring such services.

The department works collaboratively with students, schools, families, and the community to increase student achievement and to promote post-secondary success for all students with disabilities.


  • Autism

  • Deaf/Blind

  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing

  • Emotional & Behavioral Disorder

  • Intellectual Disabilities

  • Orthopedic Impairment

  • Other Health Impairment

  • Significant Developmental Delay

  • Specific Learning Disability

  • Speech-Language Impairment

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Visual Impairment & Blindness


Related Services are support services that enable the student to benefit from special education. The student must qualify for each related service that is provided for them:

  • Physical Therapy

  • Occupational Therapy

  • Educational Interpreters

  • Transportation

  • Other / GNETS


Our department serves approximately 650 students with disabilities district-wide and includes 43 certified special education teachers and 30 paraprofessionals. Lead Teachers for Special Education are responsible for disseminating information to other special education staff in their buildings, assist with placing new students, and serve as the school level LEA (Local Education Agency) for IEP meetings, coordinate screenings, and help with the determination of professional development plans.

Phone: 706-864-3611

Special Education Records

All record requests for Special Education records should be emailed to If you have any questions, please call Christie Castleberry at 706-864-3611 x 10108.


Director of Special Education - Katie Lowry

Special Education Coordinator - Vikki Abercrombie

Early Learning & Assistive Tech Coordinator, Lead SLP - Ashley Rice-Zeman

Program Specialist - Beth Hawk

Behavior Specialist - Melissa Estenson

Administrative Assistant - Christie Castleberry

School Psychologist - Stephen Palmer

Blackburn Elementary School Lead Teacher - Brittani Abercrombie

Long Branch Elementary School Lead Teacher - Laura Stanton

Cottrell Elementary School Lead Teacher - Beth Forrester

Lumpkin County Middle School Lead Teacher - Brandy Phillips

Lumpkin County High School Assistant Principal / Lead Teacher - Jennifer Wade


The goal of the Lumpkin County School System Special Education Department is to provide the appropriate supports and services that will prepare our students with disabilities for post-secondary education, work, and independent living. According to IDEA, special education services are available to all students identified with IDEA eligibility in our school district. We believe that:

*All students with disabilities should be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate and to receive a high-quality education.

*All students with disabilities should be provided with authentic opportunities to learn through the use of specialized research-based instruction, related services, supplemental aids and supports, assistive technology, and ongoing training for teachers and other service providers.

The Lumpkin County School System offers a full range of special education services for disabled and exceptional school-age children. This includes programs and related services for students who are learning disabled, emotionally / behaviorally disordered, speech impaired, visually impaired, physically impaired, hearing impaired, intellectually disabled, autistic, traumatic brain injury, significantly developmentally delayed, and other health impaired. Any disabled child, age three (3) as of September 1st, through age eighteen (18), or through age twenty-one (21) dependent on his or her program of study is eligible for special education services. Services and supports are determined on an individual basis for each student identified with eligibility, ages 3-21, through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Our mission is to work hand in hand to Lead all Children to Success. “It all begins with me.”


In accordance with IDEA regulations, the Lumpkin County School system seeks to ensure that all disabled students (ages 3-21) who are in need of special education within its jurisdiction are identified, located, and evaluated, including those attending private school and home school. Final identification of students with disabilities and programming for such students occurs only after an appropriate evaluation and a determination by a Placement Team. Once it is determined a student is in need of special education services they may receive these services through the end of the semester in which they turn 22 years of age.

If the “child find” process indicates that a student may require special education and supportive services in order to benefit from regular education, the student shall be referred to the Placement Team to determine the student’s eligibility for special education services. If you know a child with a disability that is not being served, please notify Beth Grindle, Special Education.


Under a state law passed by the Georgia State Legislature in 2007, parents of students who receive special education services may request to transfer their child to another public or private school in Georgia provided that their child has an IEP and has been enrolled for a full academic year in a Georgia public school.

Parents who are interested in transferring their child to a private school in Georgia may be able to take advantage of a Georgia Special Needs Scholarship. These scholarships provide funding that can be used to offset tuition costs at participating private schools in the state of Georgia. In order to be eligible to receive the scholarship, a student must be in attendance at an authorized private school for the Fall. There are no exceptions to this deadline. For more information on the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship and the application process, please visit the Georgia Department of Education’s website.

Parents may request a transfer to a school in another school district if there is available space and the system/school has the program with the services in the student’s existing individualized education program (IEP). However, the school district must agree to accept the student. If the parent chooses this option and the school district accepts the child, then the parent shall be responsible for transportation to a school in that district. If you are interested in your child attending a school in another system, please contact that system directly.

A parent may also request a transfer to one of the state schools for the deaf and/or blind operated by the State Board of Education. Acceptance into a state school will depend on whether the setting is appropriate for the student’s needs. If the parent chooses this option, then the parent shall be responsible for transportation to the state school. The Georgia Department of Education can be contacted for more information about transferring to a State School.

A parent can request for their child to transfer to another public school within their school district as long as there is available space at that school and the school has a program with the services that are in the student’s existing individualized education program (IEP). In addition, the specific program within the school must also have available space. If the parent chooses this option, then the parent shall be responsible for transportation.

Parents who wish to consider this option must submit a request to the Gwinnett County Department of Special Education by the deadline.


In accordance with state and federal regulations, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), this notice is to inform you of Lumpkin County Schools' intent to destroy special education records for students who have not been provided with special education services by Lumpkin County for more than three years, as these records are no longer considered educationally necessary. Records will be destroyed that were collected, maintained, or used in providing a free appropriate public education for disabled students in the LCSS. This notice is in compliance with the system's comprehensive plan for special education as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These copies are destroyed after June 30th of each year.

These records may be useful to the parent/guardian or former student in applying for Social Security benefits, rehabilitation services, college entrance, etc. Therefore, the parent/guardian or eligible (adult) student may request a copy of the records by contacting Christie Castleberry in Lumpkin County Schools at 706-864-3611, extension 10108.