Did you know that all public schools (district and charter) are required to include and educate students with special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)? Schools must create specialized academic plans, referred to as individualized education programs (IEP)s, for children with special needs. IEPs are tailored so the child can reach his or her full potential. Before a student can receive special education services, he or she must be evaluated for eligibility.

Understanding Your Rights

Who Can Help? Here are Some Resources

  • Missouri Parents Act (MPACT)

    MPACT’s staff consists of parents of children with disabilities, therapists and educators  who can help to answer some of your questions. They will work with you one-on-one to guide you through the process of figuring out what services your child needs.

    Find out about the services offered at MPACT’s online resource or at 1-800-743-7634.

  • Kansas City Public Schools Exceptional Education

    KCPS offers many special education services to students who live in their boundaries. Find more information online or call them at 816-418-8941.


  • FIRE Foundation for Inclusive Catholic Education

    Several Kansas City Catholic schools welcome students with special needs into classrooms through the FIRE Foundation. The FIRE Foundation is a non-profit organization that makes it possible for partner Catholic schools to hire special educators and paraprofessionals and to acquire learning materials and technology that create successful learning experiences for all children.


    You can learn which particular schools they work with on their website.

  • Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders at University of Missouri

    Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri has a wealth of resources and research about autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

  • Understood.org

    Understood.org is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to understand more about special needs. Explained in clear, easy English or Spanish, the site has a number of experts who weigh in on all kinds of issues. It is a great place to connect with others that have walked the path before you and to learn more about what your child is experiencing. You can sign up for informative newsletters and research based on your child’s needs. Definitely worth taking a look!


Some Local Schools for Exceptional Learners

  • Cornerstones of Care - Gillis School

    Focus:  intensive combination of special education and therapy services

    Ages Served: 6 – 19

    Grades Served:  K – 12

    Location: 8150 Wornall Rd
    Kansas City, MO 64114

    Phone: (816) 508-3500


    Gillis provides educational day treatment programs with individualized curriculum, small class sizes, and a variety of therapeutic options. Students receive special education classroom teaching as well as therapeutic supports during the day before returning home each afternoon. Students acquire coping skills and new learning strategies that allow them to progress academically, socially, emotionally and behaviorally to help them successfully transition back to their school district or graduate from high school with plans for their futures.

  • Horizon Academy

    Focus: dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, dysgraphia, receptive language disorder, expressive language disorder, dyscalculia, ADHD

    Grades Served: 1 – 12

    Location: 4901 Reinhardt Dr
    Roeland Park, KS 66205

    Phone: (913) 789-9443


    Horizon Academy was founded in 1999 and uses research-based educational best practices and learning strategies for students struggling with dyslexia, other specific learning disabilities and/or ADHD. They have small classes that are led by teachers who are relationship-driven and understand that not every child learns in the same way. A multi-sensory approach to teaching and learning is the norm as they recognize each student’s learning style and celebrate each student’s strengths and challenges.

  • Plaza Academy

    Focus: (1) gifted and talented students who have advanced developmentally beyond their peers and who require a more adult academic and social environment, (2) teenagers with learning disabilities who require a specially designed curriculum and daily individual attention, and (3) teenagers who are dissatisfied with their peer and family relationships which accompany problems at school

    Grades Served: 7 – 12

    Location: 3930 Broadway
    Kansas City, MO 64111

    Phone: (816) 561-0770


    The Plaza Academy is an alternative school in which staff, students, and parents work together to achieve academic, social, and familial success for teenagers who have been unsuccessful at traditional schools. They offer rigorous college preparatory academics in an environment that encourages critical and creative thinking through both verbal and written expression. The school designs coursework to meet the needs of teenagers and their families as they prepare students for college and other post-high school environments.  They have a civic education model and therapeutic curriculum that teaches students to take control and have ownership over their own livelihood.

  • Sherwood Autism Center

    Focus: autism

    Ages Served: 5 – 21

    Grades Served: K – 12

    Location: 8030 Ward Parkway Plaza
    Kansas City, MO 64114

    Phone: (816) 333-3344


    Sherwood Center’s Special Education Program is a comprehensive, school program that operates 225 days a year, including a nine-week extended term during the summer. Students are referred to Sherwood through their public school districts when a specialized school environment is recommended for the success of the student.