Special Services

We’re Here for You

Destinations Career Academy of New Mexico (Destinations) offers robust special education services to support students and meet their needs, empowering them to thrive in school and beyond. With high-quality, personalized learning and the help of teachers and support staff, students with special needs can achieve their academic goals, find their confidence, and pave a path to success.

English Language Learners (ELL) Coordinator

Shelbi Simeone-Montoya

As part of the enrollment process all parents enrolling their student in a public school for the first time will be asked to complete a home usage survey (HUS). The answers from this survey will allow the school to determine if the student should be screened to determine if the student speaks another language besides English and if the student qualifies to receive English language services and supports.

Section 504 Coordinator

Clint Evans

Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination based on disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the met.

Gifted and Talented Coordinator

Shelbi Simeone-Montoya

Students with gifts and talents perform—or have the capability to perform—at higher levels in one or more domains. They require modification(s) to their educational experience(s) to learn and realize their potential. At NMDCA, we recognize students with gifts and talents and work toward creating an individualized education plan helping gifted students grow academically, socially, and emotionally to fruition. GATE: Gifted and Talented Education, is a program at NMDCA designed to fully recognize, value, and nurture gifted, talented, and twice exceptional students.

Homeless Coordinator

Felicia Mize

Participation and Removal of Barriers

Destinations Career Academy of New Mexico (Destinations) has an obligation to remove barriers to enrollment and retention of the student experiencing homelessness. (See sections 721(2), 722(g)(1)(I)). A school selected on the basis of the student’s best interest must enroll the student immediately even if the student is unable to produce the records normally required for enrollment (such as previous academic records, records of immunization and other health-related records, proof of residency, proof of guardianship, birth certificates of other documents), has missed application or enrollment deadlines during the period of homelessness, or has outstanding fees.

Destinations provides McKinney-Vento/Homeless assistance and support for eligible families as defined below:

(A) Means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence…; and
(B) Includes—

1. children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

2. children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

3. Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and 

4. Migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).

Children and youth are considered homeless if they fit both part A and any one of the subparts of part B of the definition above.

Children and youth are considered homeless if they fit both part A and any one of the subparts of part B of the definition above.

  • To the extent feasible, keep a homeless student in the school of origin, except when doing so is contrary to the wishes of the student’s parent or guardian;
  • Provide a written explanation, including a statement regarding the right to appeal, to the homeless student’s parent or guardian, if the homeless student is sent to a school other than the school of origin or a school requested by the parent or guardian; and
  • In the case of an unaccompanied youth, the liaison for homeless students shall assist in placement or enrollment decisions, considering the views of such unaccompanied youth, and providing notice to such student of the right to appeal.

Foster Care Coordinator

Felicia Mize

American Disabilities ACT (ADA) Coordinator/Special Programs Manager

Shelbi Simeone-Montoya

Special Education is instruction and services designed to meet the needs of children who have one or more disabilities as defined by federal law. There are thirteen categories of disabilities: autism, deafness, deaf-blindness, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disability, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disability that includes Dyslexia, speech language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment, including blindness. See Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B regulations at 34 CFR Sec. 300.8.

In New Mexico:
Developmental delay is considered a disability under special education for children ages three (3) to nine (9).

  • According to Subsection B(18) of 6.31.27 New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC), Special Education in New Mexico may include speech-language pathology services.
  • It is important to note that not all children who have a disability or who are struggling, both academically and/or functionally qualify for special education services.

To be eligible for special education services, the child must meet two requirements:

  • First, the child must have an evaluation that finds the child has a disability as defined by the IDEA or New Mexico State Rules;
  • Second, the disability must affect the child’s ability to learn and progress in the same educational program or setting provided for all children.

The purpose of special education services is to help a child with a qualifying disability to learn the information and skills that all children are learning.

Request for Parent/ Guardian Interpreter Services or Disability Accommodations

Procedural Safeguards

Annual Public Notice of Special Services & Programs

In accordance with federal and state regulations, Destinations will provide an annual public notice to families informing them of Destinations’ child find responsibilities, procedures involved in the identification of educational disabilities and determination of students’ service and support needs.

Child Find

All public schools are mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) to identify, locate, and evaluate students who may demonstrate disabilities through the Child Find process. The intent of Child Find is that all children with disabilities, ages 3–21, are located, identified, and evaluated in order to receive needed supports and services.

As a public school, Destinations provides a Free Appropriate Public Education to children ages 3–21, including those children who qualify for special education services unless the parent refuses special education services. In order for a child to receive intervention or special education services, an evaluation must be conducted to confirm the presence of a delay or disability.

Destinations provides specialized programming through specially trained teachers to provide education-related services for children with disabilities. Supports are provided in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and range from mild and moderate to significantly more involved supports for each of the following disabilities as defined by the State of New Mexico:

  • Autism
  • Deafness
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Serious Emotional Disturbance 
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairments 
  • Other Health Impairments
  • Specific Learning Disability that Includes Dyslexia
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury 
  • Visual Impairment Including Blindness

If through Child Find activities, a child is identified as possibly having a disability and needing special education services, Destinations will seek parent consent to evaluate the child. All such evaluations will be conducted in compliance with applicable federal and state law and regulations. Parents must report that their child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) during the enrollment process. Please contact Destinations Special Services to report students who may be in need these specialized educational and/or related services.


Special Education (IEP) or Service Agreements (504 Plans)

Once the evaluation process is completed, a team of qualified school personnel, parents/guardians, and other relevant service providers hold an evaluation determination meeting to come to agreement on whether the student meets eligibility for one of the disability categories under IDEA. If the student is eligible and requires specially designed instruction, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be coordinated; during which the IEP team will review and finalize the proposed details of an appropriate educational program to meet the student’s documented needs.

For students confirmed to present with special education needs, once the IEP team agrees on the IEP and the student’s educational placement, a Prior Written Notice will be sent to the parent/guardian for signature. This must be signed and returned to Destinations. Destinations can only proceed with implementing the student’s IEP upon receipt of the signed Prior Written Notices. Some students are found to present with one or more disability, but do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined under IDEA (special education); however, their disability may still require Destinations to develop a 504 Service Agreement (504 Plan) to outline the special provisions a student may require for adaptations and/or accommodations in school-based instruction, facilities, and/or activities.

Students may be eligible to certain accommodations or services if they have a mental or physical disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program and otherwise qualify under the applicable laws. Destinations will ensure that qualified students with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in the school program and activities to the maximum extent appropriate for each individual student. In compliance with applicable state and federal laws, Destinations will provide students with disabilities the necessary educational services and supports they require to access and benefit from their educational program. This is to be done without discrimination or out of pocket cost to the student or family for the essential supplementary aids, services or accommodations determined to provide equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student’s abilities and to the extent required by the laws.

Privacy and Confidentiality


Special Education Grievances or Disputes

Destinations recognizes that despite best intentions of all parties, disagreements or miscommunications may arise between the school-based team and Destinations families or students. Should this situation occur, the Destinations special education case manager will initiate an IEP team discussion where the specific details contributing to any educational concern are fully discussed and addressed as the entire team determines would consider most appropriate for the student. Collaboration is a primary focus for this type of meeting, and the Destinations Special Education Team seeks to establish and maintain the confidence of its families to always serve its students in order to maximize their educational success.

Dispute Resolution Options

To discourage unnecessary and costly litigation, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires States to establish and implement procedures for parents and school districts to resolve special education disputes through a process known as mediation. In New Mexico, this service is administered by the Special Education Bureau (SEB) of the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED).

What is Mediation?

Mediation is defined as a meeting that utilizes an independent, State-approved, State-funded, trained mediator to assist parties to bring about a peaceful settlement to disputed matters related to a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)or other educational, non-IEP-related issues. A mediator does not make decisions or take sides, but assists the parties in reaching their own mutually agreeable solution. Mediation can be requested at any time if both parties agree. Discussions that occur during mediation sessions must be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any future due process hearing or civil proceeding (lawsuit).

What are the Requirements?

1. Mediation is voluntary for both parties.

2. Mediation may not be used to delay or deny a parent’s right to a due process hearing or to deny other rights guaranteed under the IDEA.

3. Mediation must be conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator trained in effective techniques.

What Happens if We Reach an Agreement During Mediation?

The mediator or the parties will draft a legally binding written agreement (not an IEP) that describes the settlement reached by the parties. The parent and the representative of the school district who has authority to legally bind the school district will be asked to sign the agreement. The agreement is not enforced by the mediator. The parties need to follow the terms of a mediated agreement. If necessary, such an agreement may be reviewed and enforced in State or U.S. district court.

How is Mediation Different From an IEP Meeting?

Mediation sessions are not IEP meetings, and it is not likely the student’s full IEP team will be at a mediation session. Therefore, if the school district and the parents reach a written agreement through mediation on any IEP-related matters, it will then be necessary to convene an IEP meeting to revise the student’s IEP or develop an IEP Addendum to inform the student’s service providers of their responsibilities under the mediated agreement.

A Mediation Session and and IEP Meeting? Is There Another Option?

Yes. The parties can request another dispute resolution option known as a Facilitated Individualized Education Program (FIEP) meeting. A FIEP meeting utilizes a professional mediator who is trained to facilitate this particular type of IEP meeting. The role of an IEP Facilitator is to ensure that the IEP Team assist the group with the process of the IEP meeting rather than the content of the IEP. The agenda for a FIEP meeting is the IEP process, and the student and his or her educational needs. The resulting written agreement is the student’s IEP which is prepared by the school district. Unlike mediation, a FIEP meeting does not require a separate meeting to formalize the agreements that are reached.

How to Request Mediation

If both the school district and the parents agree that they need assistance with working out their differences with the help of a third party through mediation, then they should contact the NMPED’s Special Education Bureau and ask to speak to the ADR Coordinator to obtain the Request for Mediation form or the form can be accessed.

Formal Due Process

Sometimes you and the district may not agree about your child’s IEP or his or her placement despite honest attempts to do so. When that happens, and informal attempts to resolve such a dispute or misunderstanding fail, you may want to consider the option known as a due process hearing.

What are my Rights in Regard to Requesting a Due Process Hearing?

You have the right to request an impartial due process hearing over any issue regarding the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) of your child under the Federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and State law.

How do I Request a Due Process Hearing?

How Long do I Have to File a Due Process Hearing?

The request must be filed within two years of the date that you knew or should have known about the problem.