At your service...

iQ Prototype Systems is at your service.
Contact us via email or call us in-state toll-free between 9:00am and 5:00pm MT at 1.888.231.9393, Local 406.444.3095


Frank Podobnik, Division Administrator, 406.444.4428
State Special Education Funding, School Psychology Services, Cooperatives, Legislation

Administrative Support Staff

  • Marlene Wallis, Office Manager, 406.444.2504
    Contracts/Agreements, State Special Education Advisory Panel, Hearing Conservation Program
  • Melissa Niemi, Program Specialist, 406.444.0037
    Stipends (speech/school psychology) Renewal Units, Transition, School Mental Health; Response to Intervention (RTI), Autism Program
  • Kelley Brown,, Program Specialist, 406.444.5661
    State Professional Development Grant (SPDG), MTSS, MBI Youth Days, ECPPD, CSPD, Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI), Paraprofessionals

School Improvement Unit

  • Dale Kimmet, Unit Manager, 406.444.0742
    Compliance Monitor, Significant Needs Grant
  • Ruth Miller, Compliance Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.1579
    Compliance Monitoring
  • Francisco Román, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444-4426, TTY: 444.0235
    Compliance Monitoring, Services to Students with Deaf-Blindness, Educational Interpreting Services
  • Danni McCarthy, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.0452
    619 Coordinator, Compliance Monitor, Preschool Specialist
  • Marla Swanby, Monitoring Specialist, 406.444.0044
    Transition, Parent Participation

Professional Development Unit

  • Susan Bailey-Anderson, Unit Manager, 406.444.2046
    State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG),Professional Development and Technical Assistance (CSPD), Montana Behavioral Initiative(MBI), Services/Issues for Students with Emotional Disturbance/Behavior Disorders, Integrated School Mental Health, Paraprofessional Training
  • Vacant, Program Improvement Specialist, 406.444.0688
    Integrated School Mental Health, Targeted School Improvement Activities
  • Vacant, RTI Coordinator, 406.444.0923
    Response to Intervention (RTI), School Improvement, Instructional Strategies, Training and Assistance
  • Annette Young, Coordinator, State Personnel Development Grant 406.444.0299
    Differentiated Instruction, Teacher Mentor Programs and Training, Secondary Transition and Best Practices in Professional Development, School Psychology Stipend Program, Speech Stipend Program, Special Education Endorsement Project
  • Iris Ziegler, School Climate Transformation (SCT) Grant Coordinator, 406.444.0923
  • Doug Doty, Coordinator, Montana Autism Education Project, 406.459.5303

Part B/ Data and Accountability Unit

  • Anne Rainey, IDEA Part B Data Manager, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444.4430
    Part B/Preschool Allocations, Cooperative Memberships, E-Grants, School Discipline, Post-School Survey
  • Mary Graff, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444.0685
    AIM, Special Education Data Collections, Federal Reporting.
  • Jan Duiker, Data and Accountability Specialist, 406.444-7432
    Child Count, Exiting, General Data Requests

IDEA Part B Manager

  • Dick Trerise, IDEA Part B Manager, 406.444.4429
    IDEA Part B/Preschool Allocations, E-Grants, Child Count, State Special Education Funding, State Performance Plan, Annual Performance Report

Attached Personnel

  • Mandi Gibbs, Early Assistance Program Director, 406.444.5664
    Suspension/Expulsion, Parent/School Inquiries Prior to Formal Complaint, Early Assistance Program(EAP), Section 504 Questions
  • Linda Brandon-Kjos, Administrative Officer, 406.444.4402
    Mediation, Due Process Hearings, Expedited Hearings, Liaison/Hearing Officers
  • Cindi Tenneson, Programmer/Analyst, 406.444.9860
    Analysis and Design of Computer Applications for Collection, Analysis and Reporting of Special Education Data
  • Charlotte McMilin, Accounting Specialist, 406.444.4403
    IDEA-B/Preschool Accounting, In-State Day Treatment Accounting
  • Vacant, Legal Counsel, 406.444.4399
    Questions Concerning Procedural Safeguards Under IDEA.Due Process, Complaints
Questions or concerns about this webpage?
Please contact the OPI Help Desk at or 406.444.0087

Special EducationSchool Programs: Special Education

Welcome to the Montana Division of Special Education web pages. The Division of Special Education has responsibility for assuring that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Division staff provide training, technical assistance and monitor special education services provided by public schools and state-operated programs. The Division is also responsible for managing the flow of state and federal dollars for special education programs.

The compliance monitoring process has been revised beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, These revisions will result in significant changes to the monitoring process and districts responsibilities in correction of identified non-compliance in individual student records. A more complete monitoring guide will be available in October. If you have questions contact the Division of Special Education at 406.444.5661
Compliance Monitoring Cycle, Revised July 2016
Schedule by District July 2016
2016 State Findings Report
Students With Unique Concerns (SWUC) form
2016 Record Review


Advisory Panel


Private School Representative
Theresa Erickson
Helena Christian School
East Helena, MT 59635

Regular Classroom Teacher
Courtney Lynn Bell
Chinook Schools
Chinook, MT 59523

Other State Agencies involved in the financing or delivery of related services to children with disabilities
Tammy Hogan
Youth Services Specialist
Vocational Rehabilitation
Great Falls, MT  59405

Parent Of A Child With Disabilities
Christine Whitlatch
Glendive, MT 59330
Kellie Ann Hicks
Butte, MT 59701

Higher Education that Prepares
Special Education and Related
Services Personnel

Estee Aiken, Ed.D.
Associate Professor, Education Department
The University of Montana Western
Dillon, MT 59725

Teacher of Children with Disabilities
Stephen Morsette
Office of Public Instruction
Helena, MT 59620-2501

Special Education Program Administrator
Michelle Halberg
Special Education Director
Gallatin-Madison Cooperative
Belgrade, MT  59714

State/Local Administrator
Josh Wigen
Riverside Youth Correctional Facility
Boulder, MT  59632-0088

Vocational, Community, or Business Concerned with the Provision of Transition Services to Children with Disabilities
Robin Farrell
West Mont Flower and Trading Co
Helena, MT 59601

Representative From Juvenile & Adult Corrections
Erika Wimmer
Department of Corrections
Helena, MT  59620

Part C/IDEA Representative
Wendy Studt
Part C Coordinator
Community Services Bureau
Developmental Disabilities Program
Montana Department of Public Health
and Human Services
Helena, MT 59604

Representative of Subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
Heather Denny
Office of Public Instruction
Helena, MT 59620-2501


Upcoming Meetings

June 29-30, 2017
The Special Education Advisory Panel meeting will be held at the Comfort Suites of Helena, 3180 N Washington Avenue, Helena, on Thursday, June 29, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 8:30 a.m. to Noon on Friday, June 30, 2017.

The meetings are open to the public.  The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.  If you need an accommodation, require an alternate format of a document, or have questions concerning accessibility, please contact Marlene Wallis, 406-444-2504, TDD 800-253-4091, or e-mail at, by close of business on June 26, 2017.

May 3-4, 2017
The combined Advisory Panel meeting with the Annual Joint Partnership Meeting will be held at Jorgensons Inn & Suites, 1720 11th Avenue, Helena, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Advisory Panel will meet on Thursday, May 4, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. – Noon, at the Comfort Suites of Helena, 3180 N Washington Avenue, Helena.

The meetings are open to the public.  The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.  If you need an accommodation, require an alternate format of a document, or have questions concerning accessibility, please contact Marlene Wallis, 406-444-2504, TDD 800-253-4091, or e-mail at, by close of business on April 28, 2017.


Early Assistance Program (EAP)

For Assistance: Early Assistance Program 406.444.5664

The Legal Services and Special Education Divisions of the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) have instituted the Early Assistance Program (EAP). This program is designed to provide technical assistance to parents, school districts, and advocacy organizations in regard to the delivery of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities (10.16.3660, ARM). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents can file complaints if they feel a district is not following administrative rules. The intent of the EAP program is to intervene prior to or at the time of filing a complaint with OPI (10.16.3662)(4)(c). At this intervention point, required by 10.16.3660(4), the EAP will gather information pertinent to the situation from parents, schools, and others who are involved with the issue and attempt to resolve the problem within 15 school days. With permission from the parents, EAP may exceed 15 days.

Our philosophy is to resolve issues amicably and thereby prevent costly legal entanglements wherever possible. We feel that, given the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand in a less formidable and confrontational venue, both parents and schools can reach agreement without undermining the relationships necessary to ensure the smooth delivery of special education services to children and youth with disabilities.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation
IDEA Special Education Due Process Complaints/Hearing Requests
IDEA Special Education Mediation
IDEA Special Education Resolution Meetings
IDEA Special Education Written State Complaints
Procedural Safeguards in Special Education
Procedural Safeguards - Spanish Version
Procedural Safeguards - Russian Version

Special Education Forms/Guides