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Special Education

Special education

Lake Orion’s Special Education Department is comprised of 150 teachers, paraprofessionals and reading interventionists who are committed to ensuring every minute of instruction counts when working with the district’s 750-plus students with disabilities.

The district offers a full continuum of programs designed to meet the individual needs of eligible students from birth through age 26 who attend a public or approved private school within its boundaries. Learn more about what a specific learning disability is and how children are evaluated through the Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses.

Check out our Pine Tree Center facility, opened in August 2018.

Program strengths

Unmatched Dedication

Our professionals live by the creed of never giving up on a student who wants to learn, no matter what challenges he or she faces. Their expectations for each student are high, while they provide valuable encouragement every day to recognize even the smallest accomplishments.

To best prepare for working with individual students, Lake Orion’s special education instructors meet regularly to leverage their combined creativity and problem-solving capabilities.  They also rely on research and educational best practices to develop proven solutions that help their students achieve.  Learning never ends for our staff, either, with every member participating in rigorous and rewarding professional development.


Community Focus

Students in Lake Orion’s special education program can succeed here, no matter what their learning disability.  We offer a broad range of programming, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cognitive impairment (CI), emotional impairment (EI), early childhood and post-secondary offerings. This enables students who live in our community to stay here to learn and be proud Dragons.


Recognized Results

The special education curriculum primarily focuses on reading and math, with instruction provided in traditional classrooms as well as resource room settings in each of our 11 schools. This approach has fostered unmatched student success. In fact, our Early Literacy Intervention Program for kindergarten and first grade students received “Education Excellence” awards from the Michigan Association of School Boards and Oakland Schools, the intermediate school district.

Project Find/Dragonflies

Evaluations, programs and services are available to individuals who are identified as having, or suspected of having, a disability as defined in either the Individuals for Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These services are available to eligible persons ages 0-26 who reside, or attend K-12 schools, within the Lake Orion Community Schools. Referrals are accepted. For more information contact the Student Services Department, (248) 693-5430.

Annual LIONS Club Christmas party for special education students

Julie Gutman
Julie Gutman

Director of Special Education

Community Education Resource Center
455 E Scripps Rd.
Lake Orion, Mich. 48360

Phone: 248-693-5430

Office hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Jillian Knapp
Pine Tree Center Supervisor

590 Pine Tree Road
Lake Orion, Mich. 48362-2547
Phone: 248-693-5470 

Dana Schmidt

Shawna Sawyer


Program Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Occupational and Physical Therapists

Occupational and Physical Therapists provide support services to children who have difficulties with such issues as mobility, strength, endurance, gross motor, fine motor, and sensorimotor deficits that prevent them from being successful in a school setting. 

Colleen Klosterman and Cindy Spalding
Occupational Therapists



School psychologists help children and youth succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. They collaborate with educators, parents, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students that strengthen connections between home and school.

School psychologists:  

  • Are uniquely positioned to prepare students to meet the demands of the world in which they live
  • Have specialized training in both psychology and education which extends their expertise far beyond the most familiar role of conducting evaluations to determine special needs
  • Can support the social, emotional, and academic learning goals of all students and provide services that impact learning at the individual, small group, classroom, building, or school district level 
  • Can support the social, emotional, and academic learning goals of all students and provide services that impact learning at the individual, small group, classroom, building, or school district level
  • Collaborate with teachers, administrators, parents, other school specialists and other health professionals to ensure that every child learns in a safe, healthy, supportive environment
  • Mandated participants in the following multidisciplinary evaluation teams: Specific Learning Disability, Cognitive Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Emotional Impairment

Social Workers

Social workers provide support to students and families who are struggling with social, emotional and behavioral issue that impede with school functioning or school success. Social workers also work closely with staff and support teams to develop and implement support plans for students and families. The primary goal for social workers is to help students and families develop social skills, coping skills and strategies that lead to improved independence and success in the educational setting.

Speech therapists

A Speech Language Pathologist is responsible for the identification, diagnosis and treatment of students with speech and language impairments, such as articulation, language, fluency and social skills. We also participate in MET’s, IEP’s and consultation with classroom teachers, parents, ancillary staff and the Intermediate School District. Services may be provided in a variety of settings using various strategies.

Teacher consultants

The Lake Orion teacher consultants provide support to students, parents, and staff members in each building. Some of the duties include; assessment, developing intervention strategies, collaboration and data analysis. The major focus is to identify learning styles and ensure all students learn!