Exceptional Children


Director of Exceptional Children Programs

McDowell County Schools









Dear Parents, 

We at McDowell County Schools believe the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff are our top priorities. With the recent information regarding the coronavirus (COVID19) in the news, we want to take a moment to reassure you that we will continue to take extreme precautions as we work to meet the needs of our students.  We are working diligently to provide instruction in various forms through activities sent home and remote learning opportunities for our students with disabilities.

While McDowell County School buildings are closed, IEP meetings will be held through phone conferences or other virtual means. Your participation is greatly needed as we work together to design special services to support your child. 

 Per federal and State guidance, once normal school operations resume, we will consider necessary compensatory education for any special education student who misses services. Please note that no services are required for special education students by law during any time period when regular education students are not receiving educational services.

We know that these recent world events may be creating apprehension and anxiety. Please know that we are doing all we can to support families to maintain a safe, healthy learning environment during these challenging times. We will keep you updated as additional information becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at glenda.starr@mcdowell.k12.nc.us .

Glenda Starr 
Director of Exceptional Children, MCS

Resources for Parents during COVID19

150 Homeschool Resources for Parents

Emotional Well-Being During the COVID19 Outbreak

MCS EC Teachers Remote Learning Page

Exception Children Programs

McDowell County Schools provide special education and related services to all children with disabilities from age three through twenty-two inclusive.When children are found eligible for special services, an Individualized Education Plan is developed stating the services to be provided. A specialized staff implements the education plans.

Services available for students with disabilities include: Mentally Disabled, Orthopedically Impaired, Learning Disabled, Hearing Impaired, Other Health Impaired, Speech Impaired, Deaf, Visually Impaired, Blind, Emotionally Disabled, Autistic, Traumatic Brain Injury, Developmentally Delayed, and Speech and/or Language Impaired. See the file below for a complete description of each area of exceptionality.

Available related services include but are not limited to: Speech and/or Language, Counseling, Physical Therapy, Adaptive Physical Education, Transportation, and Occupational Therapy.

North Carolina Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities. https://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/nc-policies-governing-services-for-children-with-disabilities

Mrs. Glenda Starr
EC Director for McDowell County Schools

Physical Address
172 Lukin Street
Marion, NC 28752

Phone: (828) 652-6580
Fax: (828) 652-8756

Please send record requests to Sonya Watson at sonya.watson@mcdowell.k12.nc.us

Upcoming Events

*2020 Summer Camp Directory for children with special needs: https://fsp.unc.edu/

McDowell's EC Educator of Excellence 2019-2020 Laura Boles

Laura Boles










McDowell County Schools is proud to recognize Laura Boles as our Exceptional Children Educator of Excellence.  Mrs. Boles has been teaching since 2007.   She served McDowell County children in the Exceptional Children programs at Pleasant Gardens Elementary in McDowell County as a resource teacher her first six years and has served exceptional children five years at McDowell High School, where she currently teaches as an inclusion math teacher. Mrs. Boles has also coached girls’ basketball for the past ten years.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education from Mars Hill University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education with a concentration in learning disabilities from Western Carolina University.  Mrs. Boles’ professionalism, dedication to quality instruction, knowledge of student needs, and the ability to effectively communicate with students, peers and parents are keys to her success as a highly qualified special education teacher at McDowell High School.

Mrs. Boles has a working knowledge of procedures governing children with disabilities and her paperwork is always completed with high quality.  She especially loves teaching math. She enjoys seeing the progress of her students no matter how great or small.  Mrs. Boles is a true advocate for her students, and a team player who is able to collaborate with all staff and administration to ensure the success of her students with disabilities.  She takes an active role in her school community, participating in professional learning communities and always striving to continue to grow and learn professionally.

Perhaps Mrs. Boles’ greatest strength is her ability to listen and build a positive rapport with her students.   She always goes the extra mile to do whatever it takes to meet their needs.  The relationships she builds with her students make a huge difference in the lives of children. She encourages them to stay in school, work hard to earn a high school diploma and supports their post-secondary endeavors, whether it be pursuing a college degree or securing a job.

In addition, Mrs. Boles is a leader in her community.  She is an active member of Grace Community Baptist Church and volunteers to work on various church projects. She is very family oriented and loves spending time with her husband, her mom and dad, siblings and all her nieces and nephews. She also enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling and watching the Andy Griffith Show.

Mrs. Boles is an excellent teacher who has shown exemplary ability to meet the special needs of the children she serves.  She is a vital member of the Exceptional Children’s Department and we are proud to welcome Laura Boles as McDowell County's Educator of Excellence!

MHS Titan Greenhouse

The Titan Greenhouse is proudly managed by students and all of the plants are grown with love by students at McDowell High School!
Titan Greenhouse is located behind the tennis courts beside the ball field at McDowell High School.

North Carolina State Improvement Plan (NCSIP)

http://www.ncsip.org/  The official website for The North Carolina Improvement Project II (NCSIP II). NC SIP II works to improve the quality and effectiveness of educational programs and instruction for students with disabilities in North Carolina.

Transfer Students

Transfers within McDowell County Schools

  1. Students with IEPs are assigned to the school they would normally attend based on attendance zone or a parent’s school choice. However, changes to school assignment will be made when the goals, objectives, services and/or the accommodations on the IEP cannot be implemented at the attendance zone or choice school.
  2. If it is determined that a student’s IEP cannot be implemented at the student’s attendance zone or choice school, then the student will be assigned to a school that can implement the IEP within the region of the attendance zone school.
  3. If it is determined that a student’s IEP cannot be implemented at the regional school because of class size, transportation issues, accessibility and/or other factors, then Special Education and Related Service will determine the school assignment.
  4. Data Managers make electronic transfers. The Special Education case manager will send the student’s official educational record to the assigned school through school mail or hand delivery.
  5. IEP or transition meetings may be held as needed.    FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE PDF STUDENT TRANSFERS

Dispute Resolution


Any person who has a concern about the education of a student with a disability can raise the issue in one of the several ways. For example, it is always appropriate to discuss the matter with the student's teacher or principal at the local school, or it is also helpful to contact the Director of Exceptional Children Program in the central office of the school system, charter school, or state-operated program.

The Exceptional Children Division's consultants for dispute resolution and consultants for instructional support and related services are also able to offer consultation to assist parents, advocates, or school system, charter school, or state-operated programs personnel who request help with problem-solving.

Consultants at the Department of Public Instruction are neutral and refrain from taking sides when there is a disagreement, but consistently advocate for appropriate services for children with disabilities. They are committed to the protection of rights for children with disabilities and their parents.

An informal means of problem-solving is provided through the Exceptional Children Division's Facilitated IEP Program for school systems, charter schools, state-operated programs, and parents.

Formal means for dispute resolution are also available through the Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division. These options are requirements of federal and state laws governing special education -Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), and Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (PDF).

When there is an unresolved disagreement over-identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with a disability or the provision of free appropriate public education, the options for dispute resolution are mediation, formal written complaint, and due process hearing. A formal complaint filed on the same issue(s) as contained in a petition for a due process hearing will not be investigated. These options are also available to the adult student who has reached the age of majority (18) unless legally deemed incompetent or unable to make educational decisions.

Discipline procedures

The vision of the MCS Exceptional Children's Department is that students with disabilities will graduate prepared to live as independently as possible, attain meaningfulness careers, make appropriate choices and enjoy integration within our society.

MCS Exceptional