Student Services

Welcome to District 401's Department of Student Services! 

Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401 ensures equal access and participation, and we are committed to providing the services and supports necessary for all students regardless of race, color, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, citizenship status or religion.

All students are entitled to a free and appropriate public education under the law. The District will comply with all federal and state laws and regulations designed to ensure equitable access and participation.

Notice to Parents/Guardians of Students with IEPs

Per new Illinois legislation, the following serves as a notice for the parents/guardians of students with disabilities who may receive related services as part of their individualized education programs (IEPs).

District 401 will maintain related service logs that record the type and number of minutes of the related service(s) administered to such students. Copies of any related service logs will be available to parents/guardians at their child's annual review IEP meeting.

Parents/guardians of students with disabilities may also request copies of their child's related service logs at any time.

If you have any questions, please contact your student's related services provider or the special education coordinator for your building:

Ms. Sara Barrick
Special Education Coordinator
Elm Middle School & Elmwood Park High School

Ms. Pamela Stutzman
Special Education Coordinator
Early Childhood Center, Elmwood Elementary & John Mills Elementary Schools

Dr. Kari Smith
Director for Student Services
Contact for students at Enger, Ridgewood & West Leyden Schools

What is the Student Services Department?

The Department of Student Services oversees the following programs:

► Early Childhood Education
► McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance
► Section 504 Plans
► Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
► Special Education Services

Our department works within the District's mission and vision to inspire minds in the pursuit of excellence. We do this while striving to cultivate the foundational elements essential to the educational success of all students, such as:  

► Individualized social-emotional learning processes
► Rigorous academics fostering inquisitive minds prepared for critical thinking
► Active and engaged partnerships with the community and parents
► Innovative uses of 21st-century technologies for teaching and learning

For more information about the individual components of our department, please see the sections below or click the links located on the left-hand side of this page.

For information about the full range of District 401's programs for preschool and kindergarten students, please visit the Early Childhood Center's website.

The remainder of this section concerns the Preschool for All Program overseen by the Department of Student Services.


The goal of the ECC's Preschool for All Program is to provide high quality preschool services for families in order to increase the percentage of students who enter kindergarten academically and social-emotionally prepared. 

We seek to provide services to children ages 3-5 who are not yet age-eligible for kindergarten and who are at risk of academic failure due to a multitude of risk factors. 

We seek to support the whole child, including providing resources to families within an inclusive, developmentally appropriate environment.

Through a comprehensive screening and quality review process that is based on data, we ensure that our program meets the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards, the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale and best practices within early childhood education. 

Students qualify for the Preschool for All Program based on data collected during the screenings.

The District 401 Preschool for All Program is offered five days per week and follows the District's calendar. We offer two sessions, either in the morning or afternoon. Each session lasts two hours and 40 minutes.


► Program Description in English

District 401 offers a Spanish Bilingual Preschool Program to students who qualify. Students who meet the criteria are given the opportunity to learn Spanish and English through a research-based curriculum that provides a foundation for their learning experience.

Research demonstrates the best predictors of academic success for non-native English speakers are fluency and literacy in their native language. Instruction in the Preschool Bilingual Program is 90 percent in Spanish and 10 percent in English.

This instruction strategy sets students up for success as they progress to our Dual Language One-Way Program offered starting in kindergarten. Students are provided the opportunity to become bilingual, bi-literate and culturally aware in Spanish.

Teachers are highly qualified and certified in ESL/bilingual education, early childhood education and early childhood special education.

► Program Description in Spanish

El Distrito 401 ofrece un programa de preescolar bilingüe en español a estudiantes que califican. Los estudiantes que cumplen con los criterios tienen la oportunidad de aprender español e inglés a través de un currículum basado en investigación que proporciona la base para su experiencia de aprendizaje.

La investigación demuestra que los mejores pronosticadores del éxito académico para los hablantes de inglés no nativos son la fluidez y la alfabetización en su idioma nativo. La instrucción en el programa preescolar bilingüe es 90% en español y 10% en inglés.

Esta estrategia de instrucción prepara a los estudiantes para el éxito a medida que progresan hacia nuestro programa lenguaje dual de una vía que se ofrece comenzando en kínder. Se les proporciona a los estudiantes la oportunidad de ser bilingüe, estar alfabetizado en dos idiomas y culturalmente consciente en español.

Los profesores están altamente cualificados y certificados en ESL/educación bilingüe, educación en la primera infancia y educación especial para la primera infancia.


We also offer a tuition-based preschool program. For additional information, please contact Ms. Pamela Stutzman at 708-583-5852 or

Homeless children are provided equal access to the District's educational programs in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and Illinois Education for Homeless Children Act.

District procedures are intended to remove barriers to enrollment for children who are homeless. In addition, District 401 has designated the Director for Student Services, Dr. Kari Smith, as the liaison for families experiencing homelessness.

The District liaison for families experiencing homelessness coordinates services to facilitate the enrollment of children and the provision of opportunities for academic success.

Section 6:140 of the Board of Education's Policy Manual governs District 401's rules and procedures for the education of homeless children.

It is the intent of the District to ensure that students who are disabled within the definition of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are identified, evaluated and provided with appropriate educational services.

Students may be considered disabled within the meaning of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act even though they do not require services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


A student may be referred to the educational team — which may include a general education teacher, special education teacher, social worker, speech-language pathologist, school psychologist, special education coordinator and/or building administrator — when a student is not progressing within the general education environment due to an impairment in a major life activity.

The educational staff will schedule a meeting with the parent/guardian in order to review the referral information, including student data and to determine whether or not an evaluation for a 504 plan is appropriate.


Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination civil rights statute intended to ensure that persons with disabilities are provided equal access to all programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, including those found in public schools.


To be covered under Section 504, an individual must:

(i) have a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity;
(ii) have a record of such an impairment; or
(iii) be regarded as having such an impairment.

An "impairment," as defined in Section 504, may include any disability, long-term illness or other physiological, mental or psychological disorder or condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Major life activities, as defined in the regulation, include functions such as caring for one's self, bending, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, eating, learning, reading, sleeping, concentrating, thinking, standing, communicating, lifting and working.

"Substantially limits" is defined by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) as being determined on a case-by-case basis with respect to each individual student and requires that a group of knowledgeable persons draw upon information from a variety of sources in making this determination. 

To learn more about Section 504, please refer to the Parent and Educator Resource Guide for Section 504 created by the OCR.

If you have questions or concerns related to your student receiving a Section 504 plan, please contact your school's building administrator.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which students acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions and handle challenging situations effectively.

There is a strong research base linking social-emotional learning to positive social-emotional development, readiness to learn, classroom behavior and increased academic performance for students.

The Illinois Social and Emotional Learning Standards were initially developed by a broadly representative group of teachers, school administrators, student support staff, human services professionals and parents with expertise in child development and learning, curriculum design and instruction. After the standards were written, public comment and feedback were used in revising the standards before final adoption.

The standards focus on enabling students to achieve three main goals:

► Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success
► Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships
► Demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts

For the complete list of Illinois SEL standards, please click below:

Illinois Social and Emotional Learning Standards

District 401 provides a full range of special education services under the supervision of Director for Student Services Dr. Kari Smith and Special Education Coordinators Ms. Pamela Stutzman (grades PK-6) and Ms. Sara Barrick (grades 7-12).


A student may be referred to the Student Services educational team — which may include a special education teacher, social worker, speech-language pathologist, school psychologist, special education coordinator and/or building administrator — when a student is not progressing within the general education environment.

The educational staff will schedule a meeting with the parent/guardian in order to review the referral information, including student data, and to determine whether or not an evaluation for special education services is appropriate.


For students eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the District shall follow procedures for identification, evaluation, placement and delivery of services to children with disabilities provided in the Illinois State Board of Education's Special Education rules.

A continuum of  special education and related services is offered at all schools within District 401 for children who meet specific eligibility requirements for ages 3-21.

Each school provides a variety of services to address the diverse needs of our students. All schools are committed to providing services in the least restrictive environment. The student services offered allow our students to participate in and benefit from the general education curriculum as much as possible.


An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed for each student who is eligible for special education services. The IEP must be reviewed at least annually at an IEP meeting.

An IEP details the disability, present levels of performance, parent/guardian input, the impact of the disability on the student's ability to participate within the general education environment, supports needed, measurable goals, accommodations and placement based on data collected throughout the IEP year and/or evaluation (American Psychological Association and U.S. Department of Education). For any students who are 14 ½ years old or older, transition goals and a transition plan will be included. 


Please visit the Health Services page on the District's website.


Each school offers a variety of related services to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of students. Examples of related services include:

► School-based occupational therapy
► School-based physical therapy
► School-based social work services
► School-based speech-language therapy

Contact Information

If you would like to learn more about the services offered by our department, please use the following contact information: 

Department for Student Services
Elmwood Park Community Unit School District 401
8201 W. Fullerton Ave.
Elmwood Park, IL 60707

Dr. Kari Smith
Director for Student Services

Ms. Sara Barrick
Special Education Coordinator
Elm Middle School & Elmwood Park High School

Ms. Pamela Stutzman
Special Education Coordinator
Early Childhood Center, Elmwood Elementary & John Mills Elementary Schools