Exceptional Student Education

Polk County’s Exceptional Student Education Department serves more than 18,000 students from preschool through 22 years of age. They include students with various disabilities as well as gifted learners.

Staff members work with students’ families and teachers to identify available services and programs to help these students succeed in school and in their lives beyond the classroom. Some examples of support services include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, mental health counseling, assistive technology and audiological evaluations.

We thank you for taking time to learn more about the ESE department and the special students who are

  • PreK

    Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Prekindergarten services are provided to children ages 3-5 who meet the criteria for any of the disabilities as defined by the Florida Department of Education.


    SEDNET is a network of 19 regional projects that are comprised of the major child-serving agencies, community-based service providers, students, and their families. Local school districts serve as fiscal agents for each regional project.


    The Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) is a network of state and federally funded centers that provide support services to exceptional student educators, children, parents, and community agencies.

  • Gifted

    The Gifted Program provides educational opportunities to gifted students, helping them develop to their full intellectual potential and become more cognizant of their socio-emotional needs.

  • Transition Program

    Polk County Public Schools has a “Continuum of Services” in place to support students and families with their successful transition from school to careers.

  • ESE Advisory Council

    The ESE Advisory Council explores ways to improve services for students with various disabilities as well as
    gifted learners.

  • Section 504 Guide

    A parents guide on what you need to know about Section 504.

ESE Programs & Related Services

ESE Policies and Procedures (SP & P)

Section 1003.57(1)(b)1., Florida Statutes (F.S.), requires that district school boards submit to the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) proposed procedures for the provision of special instruction and services for exceptional students once every three years. Approval of this document by FDOE is required by Rule 6A-6.03411, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), as a prerequisite for district’s use of weighted cost factors under the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP).

This document also serves as the basis for the identification, evaluation, eligibility determination, and placement of students to receive exceptional education services, and is a component of the district’s application for funds available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Visit the FLDOE website to view the PCPS SP&P and on-site monitoring reports.

Procedural Safeguards

Procedural Safeguards for Parents of Students with Disabilities

As a parent, you are entitled to information about your rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These rights, or procedural safeguards, are intended to ensure that you have the opportunity to be a partner in the educational decisions made regarding your child. To learn more about these rights, visit the FLDOE’s publications and presentations page and refer to the section titled “Procedural Safeguards.” This document is available in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole.

Procedural Safeguards for Gifted Students

Florida statue 6A-6.03313 provides parents with information regarding their rights to ensure that they have the opportunity to be partners in the decisions regarding their children. To learn more about these rights, visit the FLDOE’s gifted education page and refer to the documents titled “Procedural Safeguards for Exceptional Students who are Gifted.” This document is available in both English and Spanish.

ESE Activities

ESE Projects

Listing of Schools by Service Area: