At your service...

Contact us via email or call us in-state toll-free between 9:00am and 5:00pm MT at 1.888.231.9393, Local 406.444.3095

Have a Media Inquiry?
Contact Allyson Hagen, 406.444.3160


Frank Podobnik, Division Administrator, 406.444.4428
State Special Education Funding, School Psychology Services, Cooperatives, Legislation

Administrative Support Staff

  • Marlene Wallis, Office Manager, 406.444.2504
    Contracts/Agreements, State Special Education Advisory Panel, Hearing
    Conservation Program
  • Melissa Niemi, Program Specialist, 406.444.0037
    CSPD, Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI), Paraprofessionals, Stipends (speech/school psychology)
    Renewal Units, Transition, School Mental Health
  • Linda Almas, Program Specialist, 406.444.5661
    Response to Intervention (RTI), Autism Program, State Professional Development Grant (SPDG,
    includes REAL, EC REAL), MTSS, MBI Youth Days, ECPPD, Records Inventory

School Improvement Unit

  • Dale Kimmet, Unit Manager, 406.444.0742
    Compliance Monitor, Significant Needs Grant
  • Vacant, Compliance Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.1579
    Compliance Monitoring
  • Francisco Román, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444-4426, TTY: 444.0235
    Compliance Monitoring, Services to Students with Deaf-Blindness, Educational Interpreting Services
  • Danni McCarthy, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.0452
    619 Coordinator, Compliance Monitor, Preschool Specialist
  • Marla Swanby, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.0044
    Transition, Parent Participation

Professional Development Unit

  • Susan Bailey-Anderson, Unit Manager, 406.444.2046
    State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG),Professional Development and Technical Assistance
    (CSPD), Montana Behavioral Initiative(MBI), Services/Issues for Students with Emotional
    Disturbance/Behavior Disorders, Integrated School Mental Health, Paraprofessional Training
  • Erin Butts, Program Improvement Specialist, 406.444.0688
    Integrated School Mental Health, Targeted School Improvement Activities
  • Amy Friez, RTI Coordinator, 406.444.0923
    Response to Intervention (RTI), School Improvement, Instructional Strategies, Training and
  • Annette Young, Coordinator, State Personnel Development Grant 406.444.0299
    Differentiated Instruction, Teacher Mentor Programs and Training, Secondary Transition and Best
    Practices in Professional Development, School Psychology Stipend Program, Speech Stipend
    Program, Special Education Endorsement Project
  • Doug Doty, Coordinator, Montana Autism Education Project, 406.459.5303

Part B/ Data and Accountability Unit

  • Anne Rainey, IDEA Part B Data Manager, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444.4430
    Part B/Preschool Allocations, Cooperative Memberships, E-Grants, School Discipline, Post-School
  • Mary Graff, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444.0685
    AIM, Special Education Data Collections, Federal Reporting.
  • Jan Duiker, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444-7432
    Child Count, Exiting, General Data Requests

IDEA Part B Manager

  • Dick Trerise, IDEA Part B Manager, 406.444.4429
    IDEA Part B/Preschool Allocations, E-Grants, Child Count, State Special Education Funding, State
    Performance Plan, Annual Performance Report

Attached Personnel

  • Mary Gallagher, Early Assistance Program Director, 406.444.5664
    Suspension/Expulsion, Parent/School Inquiries Prior to Formal Complaint, Early Assistance
    Program(EAP), Section 504 Questions
  • Linda Brandon-Kjos, Administrative Officer, 406.444.4402
    Mediation, Due Process Hearings, Expedited Hearings, Liaison/Hearing Officers
  • Cindi Tenneson, Programmer/Analyst, 406.444.9860
    Analysis and Design of Computer Applications for Collection, Analysis and Reporting of Special
    Education Data
  • Charlotte McMilin, Accounting Specialist, 406.444.4403
    IDEA-B/Preschool Accounting, In-State Day Treatment Accounting
  • Ann Gilkey, Legal Counsel, 406.444.4399
    Questions Concerning Procedural Safeguards Under IDEA.Due Process, Complaints

School Programs:
Special Education

Welcome to the Montana Division of Special Education web pages. The Division of Special Education has responsibility for assuring that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Division staff provide training, technical assistance and monitor special education services provided by public schools and state-operated programs. The Division is also responsible for managing the flow of state and federal dollars for special education programs.

The compliance monitoring process has been revised beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, These revisions will result in significant changes to the monitoring process and districts responsibilities in correction of identified non-compliance in individual student records. A more complete monitoring guide will be available in October. If you have questions contact the Division of Special Education at 406.444.5661
New Compliance Monitoring Description
Compliance Monitoring Cycle, Revised July 2013
Schedule by District July 2013
2013 State Findings Report
Tips from the OPI Monitors
Students With Unique Concerns (SWUC) form
SWUC Timelines for Correction
2013 Record Review
District Record Review
Timelines for Correction - Updated July 2012

Advisory Panel

Annual Reports



Private School Representative
Carolyn Prill
Great Falls Central Catholic High School
Great Falls, MT 59405

Regular Classroom Teacher

Parent Of A Child With Disabilities
Marilyn Davis
Great Falls, MT 59401
Diana Tavary
Helena, MT 59602
Theresa Baldry
Miles City, MT 59301
Lily Wahl
Dutton, MT 59433

Higher Education that Prepares
Special Education and Related
Services Personnel

Tessie Rose Bailey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Special Education
Montana State University-Billings
Billings, MT 59101

Teacher of Children with Disabilities
Doug Dellwo
CR Anderson School
Helena, MT 59601

Special Education Program Administrator
Dan Laughlin
Director of Special Education
Anaconda Public Schools
Anaconda, MT 59711

State/Local Administrator
Dave Marzolf
Sun River Valley Schools
Simms, MT 59477

State Child Welfare Agency Responsible for Foster Care
Dawn Piazzi
Helena, MT 59604-8005

Vocational, Community, or Business Concerned with the Provision of Transition Services to Children with Disabilities
Marvin Williams
Director of Education
Helena, MT 59601

Representative From Juvenile & Adult Corrections
Tara Moore
Chief Probation Officer
13th Judicial District, Court Services
Billings, MT 59107

Part C/IDEA Representative
Wendy Studt
Part C Coordinator
Community Services Bureau
Developmental Disabilities Program
Montana Department of Public Health
and Human Services
Helena, MT 59604

Representatives of other state agencies involved in the financing or delivery of Related Services to Children with Disabilities
Barbara Varnum
Chief of Field Services
Montana Vocational Rehabilitation
Helena, MT 59601

Representative of Subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
Chris Bilant
Federal Projects Director
Kalispell School District #5
Kalispell, MT 59901

The Honorable Clarena Brockie
Montana House of Representatives
Harlem, MT 59526

Tia Davis
Clancy, MT 59634


Upcoming Meetings

May 1‐2, 2014
The combined Advisory Panel meeting with the Comprehensive System of Professional Development
(CSPD), Part C, Vocational Rehabilitation and Parents, Let’s Unite for Kids (PlUK) will be held at the
Colonial Red Lion, Helena, May 1, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Panel will meet on Friday, May
2, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1720 11th Avenue.

The meetings are open to the public. The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to
people with disabilities. If you need an accommodation, require an alternate format of a document, or
have questions concerning accessibility, please contact Marlene Wallis, 406.444.2504, TDD 800.253.
4091, or e‐mail at, by close of business on April 18, 2014.

January 23-24, 2014
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, January 23, 2014, 8:30
a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, January 24, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, Room
156, 1714 11th Avenue.
The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meetings and in need of
accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public Instruction 406.444.

September 26‐27, 2013
The State Special Education Advisory Panel will meet in Helena on Thursday, September 26,
2013, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Friday, September 27, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. – Noon, at
Jorgensons’ Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1714 11th Avenue.
The meetings are open to the public. Any individual who plans on attending the meeting and in
need of accommodations for a disability should notify Marlene Wallis at the Office of Public
Instruction 406.444.2504. Public Comments may be submitted, prior to the meeting, in
writing to Marlene Wallis, Office of Public Instruction. June 26, 2012, 8:30
a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Jorgensons Inn & Suites, Room 156, 1714 11th Avenue. This is the Panel’s final
meeting for the 2011‐2012 school year.

Early Assistance Program (EAP)

For Assistance: Mary Gallagher, Early Assistance Program 406.444.5664

The Legal Services and Special Education Divisions of the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) have instituted the Early Assistance Program (EAP). This program is designed to provide technical assistance to parents, school districts, and advocacy organizations in regard to the delivery of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities (10.16.3660, ARM). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents can file complaints if they feel a district is not following administrative rules. The intent of the EAP program is to intervene prior to or at the time of filing a complaint with OPI (10.16.3662)(4)(c). At this intervention point, required by 10.16.3660(4), the EAP will gather information pertinent to the situation from parents, schools, and others who are involved with the issue and attempt to resolve the problem within 15 school days. With permission from the parents, EAP may exceed 15 days.

Our philosophy is to resolve issues amicably and thereby prevent costly legal entanglements wherever possible. We feel that, given the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand in a less formidable and confrontational venue, both parents and schools can reach agreement without undermining the relationships necessary to ensure the smooth delivery of special education services to children and youth with disabilities.

Federal and State Laws and Rules



The Administrative Rules of Montana
The Administrative Rules of Montana, as they pertain to Special Education, are located in Title 10, Chapter 16, of the Administrative Rules.

Statutes relating to Special Education

State Documents
Montana's State Plan (2007) contains the federal regulations and state statutes, regulations and policies that direct special education services for students with disabilities in Montana.
State Application for Part B (2012)

Special Education Forms/Guides

Hearing Conservation Program

The Office of Public Instruction Hearing Conservation Program (OPI-HCP) serves children 0 to 21 years of age. There are 9 audiologists manning 13 regionally based centers. Each center serves approximately 4 or 5 counties around the center.

The HCP involves screening, re-screening, in-school assessments, comprehensive hearing evaluations, and follow-up parent counseling and networking with other agencies. While the screening, and in some cases re-screening, is provided by the schools or special education cooperatives, the training of the screeners and overseeing of the screening program is one of the duties of the audiologists under contract with the HCP. Other duties include, but are not limited to, attending CST/IEP meetings, fitting and overseeing trials with FM systems for the hearing impaired, hearing aid maintenance, installing and maintaining amplified classrooms, child find participation, screening in Headstart and preschools, interagency networking, in service training, report writing and communication with medical providers.

Professional Development Resources



Secondary Transition

Paraprofessional Secondary Transition Academy

Module 1 – Disability Awareness and Employment Supports
Module 2 – Employment Planning – Roles and Responsibilities
Module 3 – Community-Based Job Training

Training & Webinars

Best Practices from the Schools Webinars
A Case Study – March 16, 2011
Above and Beyond – February 23, 2011
Job Experience as the Basis for Transition Planning - February 7, 2011
Trouble Shooting Secondary Transition Challenges – January 19, 2011
"How to Guide" of Secondary Transition – November 17, 2010

Transitioning to Life Webinars
Introduction to the Adult Services Webinars
Navigating Montana's Develpmental Disabilities Program - December, 2010
Vocational Rehabilitation – Transitioning to Life - February 1, 2011
Overview of Social Security – SSI and SSDI — April 19, 2011
This webinar was recorded by the Rural Institute Transition and Employment Projects. After clicking on the link above, select: Audiorecording: Overview of SSI and SSDI
Social Security Work Incentives - May 17, 2011
This webinar was recorded by the Rural Institute Transition and Employments Projects. After clicking on the link above, select: Audio recording of Social Security Work Incentives.

IEP Compliance and Best Practices for Secondary Transition
Secondary Transition 17 years old and beyond – April 28, 2009
Transition Services Powerpoint
Secondary Transition Services – April 9, 2009 Webinar
Measurable Post Secondary Goals - February 24, 2009 Webinar
Secondary Transition Assessments – February 5, 2009 Webinar
Secondary Transition Assessment Webinar – PowerPoint

Job Analysis, Prompting and Fading
Prompting and Fading 2 – April 27, 2011
Prompting and Fading 1 - April 5, 2011
Job Analysis - March 29, 2011

Additional Training
IEP Transition Video



The Office of Public Instruction has mandated use of the Special Education module of the AIM system effective March 1, 2010. Questions? Contact AIM Help Desk or for Technical Questions, 888.461.2004


Special Education Cooperative Boundaries

Special Education Cooperative Boundaries Bear Paw Coop, PO Box 1449, Chinook 59523 Sanders County Coop Gallatin/Madison Coop Bitterroot Valley Coop Prickly Pear Coop North Central Learning Resource Center Central Montana Learning Resource Center Roose-Valley Special Education Coop Seridan/Daniels Coop Prairie View Coop Big Country Coop Tri-County Coop Eastern Yellowstone Coop Yellowstone/West Carbon Coop Stillwater/Sweetgrass Coop Park County Coop Missoula Area Coop Great Divide Educational Services Flathead County Coop Big Sky Special Education Coop Chouteau County Joint Services