Co-op-er-a-tive:  1. Involving mutual assistance in working toward a common goal; 2. An organization run jointly by its members to share in benefits

Did you know that nearly eighty-two percent of Montana public school districts are members of a special education cooperative? The purpose of a cooperative is to provide through, cooperative efforts, special education and related services within the member public school districts for children and youth with identified disability or developmental delay that significantly impacts their ability to access, participate and benefit from their education and who need specialized instruction or services.

The Cooperative is created by Montana State Statute and is funded through a combination of local, state, and federal funds earmarked for special education. An inter-local agreement outlines operations of a cooperative and the eleven GMSEC member school administrators comprise the Cooperative Management Board. As well as assisting schools in the provision of comprehensive educational evaluations to consider special education eligibility and need, providing direct educational and related services to eligible children, the GMSEC offers consultation, pre-referral special education and related services and technical assistance to member schools.  Technical assistance is designed to support member schools in understanding and meeting the compliance standards associated with state and federal rules and regulation associated with special education, specifically, with the requirements of federal law entitled the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The GMSEC employs an exceptional group of professionals that are dedicated to work collaboratively with member school administrators, special educators and general educators to share in the responsibility for ensuring that students with identified disabilities will meet with success. GMSEC employees include myself as Special Education Director, an Executive Assistant, Business Manager/Clerk, Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, School Psychologists, a Special Education Teacher as well as provide services through contracted employees such as Physical Therapists, Behavioral Specialists.

As provided within the Constitution of Montana (Article X), “It is the goal of the people to establish a system of education which will develop the full educational potential of each person. Equality of educational opportunity is guaranteed to each person of the state.” Special education is an integral part of public education and not separate. In any public school special education is a means of increasing the capacity of the school to serve the educational needs of ALL children. Therefore, in cooperation with member schools the GMSEC strives to reach and teach ALL students through sufficient opportunities to learn and instruction geared to their strengths.

Michelle Halberg

GMSEC Special Education Director