McDowell County Schools

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Dear teachers,

     A demanding but productive school year has drawn to a close. As we breathe a huge sigh of relief and launch into summer break, it is fitting to take a moment or two to reflect on how far we have come and where we are headed.

    First, I want to recognize each of you for the dedication, talent, energy and care you bring to your work. Together, we are making a visible difference for our students, families and community.

This year we set our sights on some challenging goals in the areas of time lines, compliance, progress monitoring, student achievement and community engagement. In spite of the challenges we have focused on, what matters most is ensuring our students are learning and that we continue to grow as educators and as a district.

    Educating our children for a successful future is important and influential work. I want to recognize your daily contributions in providing the richest experience possible for our students. Despite the constraints and challenges, we continue to focus on improvement and we continue to find ways to leverage our resources—people, time, dollars and relationships—toward boosting success for students.

     We had six retirees this year.  Tom Stone and Susan Watson left first semester.  Tom was always kind to students and left a large position to fill.  Susan had the gift of seeing the positive in all situations. Kids loved her and have missed her. Three TA’s left us for retirement: Shannon Arrowood, Cindy Gragg and Lyle Bartlett. When I think of this group the word dedication comes to mind.  Our children deserve dedicated people and it saddens me to say good-bye.  Cathie Keenan served our county as a school psychologist for 33 years.  We all put a great deal of faith in Cathie’s expertise and she will be sorely missed as she enjoys her retirement.

     In ways large and small, each of you has made a positive difference for kids this year. If I haven’t had an occasion to express this to you in person, please know that I deeply value your efforts and your commitment. I hope you have an opportunity to rest and re-energize over the summer. Take time to travel, enjoy the company of friends and family, and savor the experiences that are rewarding and help you bring new insights to your role for the coming year.  For those of you who are retiring after serving the district for so many years, I wish you the best.  You have contributed immensely to the success of our district.  I hope you have a great time in this next phase of your life.

     Our beginning year meeting will be on August 21, 2018 and is tentatively planned to be held at Pleasant Gardens.  We will be learning all about our new ECATS system along with sharing data and reviewing current procedures and requirements.


With appreciation and sincere admiration,




Exception Children Programs

McDowell County Schools provide special education and related services to all children with disabilities from age three through twenty-two inclusive.When children are found eligible for special services, an Individualized Education Plan is developed stating the services to be provided. A specialized staff implements the education plans.

Services available for students with disabilities include: Mentally Disabled, Orthopedically Impaired, Learning Disabled, Hearing Impaired, Other Health Impaired, Speech Impaired, Deaf, Visually Impaired, Blind, Emotionally Disabled, Autistic, Traumatic Brain Injury, Developmentally Delayed, and Speech and/or Language Impaired. See the file below for a complete description of each area of exceptionality.

Available related services include but are not limited to: Speech and/or Language, Counseling, Physical Therapy, Adaptive Physical Education, Transportation, and Occupational Therapy.
NC Policy For Governing Services for Children with Disabilities

Mrs. Glenda Starr
EC Director for McDowell County Schools

Physical Address
172 Lukin Street
Marion, NC 28752

Phone: (828) 652-6580
Fax: (828) 652-8756

Please send record requests to Sonya Watson at

Upcoming Events

EC Department Beginning of year meeting.  Tuesday, August 21. Location TBA
Mini-Refreshers for EC teachers- 3:15-4:00  
172 Lukin Street- Sept-March (see teacher resource page) 

McDowell's EC Educator of Excellence 2017-2018 Patricia Arthur

McDowell County Schools is proud to recognize Patricia Arthur as the 2017 Exceptional Children Educator of Excellence. Ms. Arthur received an Associate’s degree from McDowell Technical Community College in 1997 and obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education and History in 1999 from Lees-McRae College. In 2004 she graduated from Appalachian State with a Master’s Degree in Educational Media. After teaching 5th and 3rd grades for eight years, Ms. Arthur developed a passion for working with children with special needs. She has been an Exceptional Children’s teacher for nine years and acquired National Board Certification in 2010.


Ms. Arthur eagerly takes on extra responsibilities at Marion Elementary School, where she has taught for all 17 years of her career. As an AIG certified teacher, she is a member of the school’s AIG committee, she serves on the School Improvement Team as well as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Team. Last year Ms. Arthur applied for and was awarded two grants. She was able to purchase four Chrome books for her classroom through Donor’s Choose as well as awarded $500 for classroom literacy materials from Books Build Brains. With her positive attitude, humor and good nature, she makes meaningful connections with students, colleagues and community. 


Patricia Arthur is well deserving of this recognition for her dedication to her profession as an Exceptional Children Teacher.  McDowell County is proud to recognize her as an Educator of Excellence!

MHS Titan Greenhouse

The Titan Greenhouse is proudly managed by students and all of the plants are grown with love by students at McDowell High School!
Titan Greenhouse is located behind the tennis courts beside the ball field at McDowell High School.

North Carolina State Improvement Plan (NCSIP)

The official website for The North Carolina Improvement Project II (NCSIP II). NC SIP II works to improve the quality and effectiveness of educational programs and instruction for students with disabilities in North Carolina.

Transfer Students

Transfers within McDowell County Schools

  1. Students with IEPs are assigned to the school they would normally attend based on attendance zone or a parent’s school choice. However, changes to school assignment will be made when the goals, objectives, services and/or the accommodations on the IEP cannot be implemented at the attendance zone or choice school.
  2. If it is determined that a student’s IEP cannot be implemented at the student’s attendance zone or choice school, then the student will be assigned to a school that can implement the IEP within the region of the attendance zone school.
  3. If it is determined that a student’s IEP cannot be implemented at the regional school because of class size, transportation issues, accessibility and/or other factors, then Special Education and Related Service will determine the school assignment.
  4. Data Managers make electronic transfers. The Special Education case manager will send the student’s official educational record to the assigned school through school mail or hand delivery.
  5. IEP or transition meetings may be held as needed.    FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE PDF STUDENT TRANSFERS

Dispute Resolution

Any person who has a concern about the education of a student with a disability can raise the issue in one of the several ways. For example, it is always appropriate to discuss the matter with the student's teacher or principal at the local school, or it is also helpful to contact the Director of Exceptional Children Program in the central office of the school system, charter school, or state-operated program.

The Exceptional Children Division's consultants for dispute resolution and consultants for instructional support and related services are also able to offer consultation to assist parents, advocates, or school system, charter school, or state-operated programs personnel who request help with problem-solving.
Consultants at the Department of Public Instruction are neutral and refrain from taking sides when there is a disagreement, but consistently advocate for appropriate services for children with disabilities. They are committed to the protection of rights for children with disabilities and their parents.
An informal means of problem-solving is provided through the Exceptional Children Division's Facilitated IEP Program for school systems, charter schools, state-operated programs, and parents.
Formal means for dispute resolution are also available through the Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division. These options are requirements of federal and state laws governing special education -Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), and Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (PDF).
When there is an unresolved disagreement over-identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with a disability or the provision of free appropriate public education, the options for dispute resolution are mediation, formal written complaint, and due process hearing. A formal complaint filed on the same issue(s) as contained in a petition for a due process hearing will not be investigated. These options are also available to the adult student who has reached the age of majority (18) unless legally deemed incompetent or unable to make educational decisions.

Discipline procedures

The vision of the MCS Exceptional Children's Department is that students with disabilities will graduate prepared to live as independently as possible, attain meaningfulness careers, make appropriate choices and enjoy integration within our society.