Navigating School Supports for Children with Disabilities

-the continuum from general education supports to 504 to special education-

It can be difficult for parents to navigate the many different practices schools use to respond to the needs of struggling learners. These practices range from encouraging an innovative, inclusive school culture to following legal mandates for providing services to children who need them. For educators, the school year moves at a breakneck pace, making it difficult to balance the special educational needs of individual students with the overall needs of the group. Often, this means the time needed to get parents up to speed falls by the wayside.

In this session, Caroline Nelson will outline the continuum of school-based supports for struggling learners. Her talk will include the differences between RTI, 504, and special education (and how children may move back and forth along this continuum), as well as basic rights and resources for parents navigating the process.

Caroline’s 29-year career is a marriage of law and education, coupled with personal experience raising a son with a disability. She began her career as an educator, found her way from classroom teaching to practicing law, and then back to public school as a special education Family Liaison and Transition Specialist. There, she focused on neutral dispute resolution, post-secondary planning and community outreach. Today, she has returned to private practice to teach, develop, and create greater access to collaborative practices in parent-school relationships and strategic planning for parents of kids with special needs. She is a mom to three remarkable and unique young adults.

Whether your child has been diagnosed with special needs or has particular challenges yet to be identified; whether they are spirited, struggle with reading or writing, or have sensory issues; whether they have learning, emotional, or behavioral differences, or fall into the quirky kid category, we’ll explore the means to help you help your child here in the Westlake area with monthly guest speakers and parent discussions. This series is targeted toward parents of children throughout Eanes ISD, whether in public, private, or home schooling, and is open to everyone.

Some past presentations are available on the Westbank Library YouTube Channel.

Questions?  Please contact Denise Bluestein at or Barbara Paier at