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Special Education

Welcome to the Hutchinson Public Schools Special Education Website. Hutchinson Public Schools provide services to approximately 380 students from birth to age 21 through our various special education programs. This website will help families answer questions regarding Special Education in Hutchinson Public Schools. If you have questions about Special Education services please contact Karen Lerfald, Director of Special Services – 320-234-2618.

Hutchinson Public School District provides a comprehensive program for students with disabilities by offering a continuum of Special Education and related services to meet the needs of children and youth with disabilities, birth through 21 years of age. Special Education is instruction specific to the child at no cost to parents.  The instruction is designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.  Children must meet specific criteria set by the State of Minnesota and the Federal Government to receive Special Education services.

Most students receive services in their neighborhood school and, when possible, in their regular class setting. Special Education services may be provided in regular class settings, regular early childhood programs, resource rooms, separate classes, separate day schools, residential settings, hospitals, or in the home for homebound students and for infants and toddlers.

Each student who receives Special Education services must meet State of Minnesota eligibility criteria and have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), or Individualized Service Plan (ISP) which describes the student’s present level of academic and functional performance, special education needs, goals/outcomes, objectives and services. The IEP, IFSP, or ISP is designed to meet each student’s unique needs, support school success, and promote the independence of children and youth with disabilities while ensuring that they receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

Students may qualify for Special Education and related services in the following disability categories set forth by the State of Minnesota:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Great difficulty in communicating and interacting with others, thus interfering with learning and/or relationships at school.
  • Blind-Visually Impaired
    Loss of vision, visual field cut and/or very poor visual acuity even with correction (glasses), which interferes with learner’s performance in schools.
  • Deaf-Blind
    Deaf-Blind means both hearing and visual impairments. The combination causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs.
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    Hearing loss which interferes with the learner’s performance in school.
  • Emotional or Behavioral Disabilities
    Serious problems with behavior, social skills, peer relations, emotional responses, and coping skills which interfere with learning and/or relationships in school.
  • Developmental Cognitive Disabilities
    Many difficulties in learning and adapting. The learner experiences a much slower rate of learning.
  • Developmental Delay
    A child up to age seven who is experiencing a measurable delay in development according to diagnostic instruments and procedures.
  • Other Health Disabilities
    A broad range of medically diagnosed chronic or acute health conditions that greatly interfere with learning.
  • Physically Impaired
    Permanent, severe and acute, or chronic physical conditions which greatly interfere with performance at school.
  • Severely Multiply Impaired
    A student qualifies in two or more of the following categorical disabilities: Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Physically Impaired, Developmental Cognitive Disability – Severe-Profound range, Blind/Visually Impaired, Emotional or Behavioral Disorders, or Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Specific Learning Disability
    A large difference or discrepancy between a learner’s intellectual ability and her/his achievement in the areas of reading, math, written expression, oral expression, and/or listening comprehension; a severe underachievement in academic work and severe difficulty in processing information.
  • Speech Language Impairment
    Great difficulty with speaking, understanding, or using words and sentences in a meaningful way.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
    Permanent and severe injury to the brain occurring after birth, which greatly interferes with learning.


Hutchinson Total Special Education System (TSES)

Click here to view Hutchinson School District’s Total Special Education System (TSES) Manual

Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC)

Parents and guardians of students in special education are invited to attend the Special Education Advisory Council meetings on the following days:

Special Education Advisory Council Meetings and Lunch

  • September 17, 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM at the McLeod County Fairgrounds
  • January 21, 2020, 12:00-1:30 PM at the McLeod County Fairgrounds
  • April 21, 2020, 12:00-1:30 PM at the McLeod County Fairgrounds

For questions regarding this committee please contact:
Karen Kohler-Nelson, Chairperson/Parent – 320-583-0837
Karen Lerfald, Director of Special Services – 320-234-2618


Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools