Recent News


We want to hear from you!

We want to hear from you! Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and Support & Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP) are hosting Information Exchange events in Hamilton, Montgomery, and Tipton counties.

We will begin each session with dinner at 5:30 pm and a listening session for families of children and youth with disabilities and students with disabilities will conclude at 8:30 pm. Come and talk to us about what is happening in your schools related to special education services and supports. Our purpose is to identify what is going well in these counties and what are areas to focus on for improvement.    

Participants will receive information that will help build skills to effectively participate in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. We will conclude the evening with cookies, coffee, and Round Table discussions with an opportunity for families and students to discuss specific topics with individuals from DRT and STEP who have the expertise to address your questions.  

Save the Date for the event nearest you and RSVP to so that we can include you in emails with specific location and time details for these exciting Family Information Exchange events.

For the latest information about these events please visit

A collaborative project of Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and Support and Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP, Inc).

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How can I help my child prepare for Kindergarten?

Kindergarten is such a memorable experience for children and their family members, and it is the beginning of a child's formal educational career. Kindergarten provides opportunities for children to grow and develop physically, emotionally, socially and academically, and for many families, it is an exciting and sometimes challenging time. Kindergarten is a big step in any child’s life. It is a new experience for both the child and the parents, and change can be somewhat challenging at first. This is especially important for families of children with special needs. Effective transition planning requires teamwork among parents, educators, and others. By planning ahead and thinking about the ways you can support your child in this new adventure, you can make the transition to Kindergarten a smooth one for your child and your family. Click here for resources to help in your transition planning.

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Transition Tennessee seeking parent participants for needs assessment survey

Transition Tennessee invites parents and caregivers across Tennessee to participate in a short survey on the needs of their child(ren) with disabilities (ages 14-22) preparing for future jobs, training, or college after high school.  

Transition Tennessee is a collaboration between the Tennessee Department of Education, Vanderbilt University’s Department of Special Education, and TennesseeWorks. Coordinators will randomly select 50 parents or caregivers who complete the survey to receive a $20 gift card. The survey takes less than 20 minutes and Transition Tennessee will share new resources with participants on how to support their child’s transition to college or the workplace.  

A full description of the study and the survey can be found here.

For more information, contact the Transition Tennessee team at

Join in the "Community Conversations" in Bristol and Greeneville

10/15/2018 from 9:30 – 11:00 Bristol Tennessee City Schools is hosting a community conversation at the Tennessee High School Cafeteria for all interested persons in the area.  This conversation will focus on factors that need to be in place to ensure that all students with and without disabilities in Bristol are well prepared for their future careers.  Breakfast pastries and coffee will be served.  To register, please sign up at  

10/15/2018 from 5:00- 6:30 PM Greene County is hosting a community conversation at the Greene Tech Center for all interested persons in the area.  This conversation will focus on factors that need to be in place to ensure that students with disabilities in Greene are well prepared for their future careers. Snacks and beverages will be served. To register, please sign up at

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Check out the new look of the's TA Materials page

The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division has revamped its Technical Assistance Materials webpage on to make it more organized and user friendly. Materials are now arranged by the relevant Title of the ADA as well as by subject matter covered in the documents. Check out the new look of the page here.

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IDEA Early Intervention Family Guides

These four family guides are designed to explain the dispute resolution options under Part C of the IDEA: mediation, written state complaints and the due process complaint and hearing procedures specific to families with infants or toddlers with disabilities (Birth through Age 2). The companion resource, "Quick Guide to Early Intervention Dispute Resolution Processes for Infants & Toddlers (Birth through Age 2)" offers a side-by-side look at dispute resolution options under Part C of the IDEA.    

CADRE developed the four Family Guides and the Quick Comparison Chart with the support of OSEP and Parent Leaders from across the country.   

Get the guides here:

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Special Education for Preschoolers: A Guide For Parents

As parents of children with special needs, it may be known that special education services are available as their children enter presechool and elementary school. This document helps to inform parents of exactly how to obtain and navigate through these services during these formative years, how to make it a positive experience for their child, as well as their rights as a parent.


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OSEP Update

The latest OSEP Update is out from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

In This Issue:

  • Top News: Rethinking Special Education
  • Inside OSEP: Ruth's Report
  • Results Driven Accountability: What's Due and What's New
  • Dose of Data: State Data Displays Now Available!
  • Early Childhood Check-in: New Webinar! Creating a Culture of Data Use
  • Update From ED! Comments Requested on Comprehensive Centers Program Priorities
  • Open Funding Opportunity for Building Strong Birth-to-Five Mixed Delivery Systems
  • Resources for You: IEP Implementation and Intensive Interventions
  • Research News: Listening Fatigue for Students With Hearing Loss
  • Collaboration Corner: Assessments and Meetings
  • Voices From the Field: Tennessee Early Educator
  • Engage With Us! Social Media and More

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Guide to Early Intervention Dispute Resolution Processes for Families of Infants & Toddlers (Ages 0-2)

Source: The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE).

CADRE recently published a quick guide (September 2018) that explains each of the different options under Part C of the IDEA for resolving a dispute concerning families of infants and toddlers in the special education system. A side-by-side look at the different dispute options: IFSP facilitation, mediation, written state complaints, due process complaint and hearing procedures, and the resolution meeting will assist families involved in or new to the process.


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Intentional Partnerships Podcast - Series on Family Engagement

ABOUT THIS SHOW:  Each episode of the Intentional Partnerships Podcast offers an on-the-ground perspective from real people exploring their shared values around family engagement. Over the 11-episode season, you’ll hear from teachers, parents, district administrators, early childhood educators, family support professionals, and parent educators about their hard-earned successes and complex challenges. Most importantly, you’ll hear about their ongoing interactions as partners in this important work.

Check back every other week for a new episode. 

SEASON 1: Starting the Conversation (Newest episodes are listed first)


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How to Organize Your Child’s IEP Binder

Making an IEP binder is a great way to keep information organized and at the ready when you need it. An IEP binder can help you prepare for IEP meetings and stay up to date on your child’s progress. This powerful tool can also help you communicate and collaborate with teachers and your child’s IEP team. Here’s what you need to get started:

  • A three-ring binder
  • Six tabbed section dividers
  • A three-hole punch

Our friends at Understood have created a pretty cool system and have made all of the parts easy to download.

You can read the entire article, watch a video about how it works and grab the pages here:

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