Special Education


Welcome to the homepage for the East Peoria High School Special Education Services Department!  East Peoria School District #309 provides a free, appropriate public education to students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal mandates.  

In order to receive special education services, a student must have a physical or mental disability as identified in the Illinois State Criteria. The qualifying disabilities are Autism, Deaf-Blindness, Deafness, Emotional Disturbance, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech/Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Visual Impairment. 


In addition, a qualifying disability must adversely impact educational progress and require specially designed instruction. It is important to note that not all students with a disability will be eligible for special education services.  

The goal of special education and related services is to support each eligible student and address identified individual needs. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan is developed in collaboration with parents, general education teachers, and when required, special education staff.  IEP and 504 meetings are scheduled annually or more often if needed.  

East Peoria High School provides a full continuum of services in the areas of Special Education Individualized Education Programs and Section 504 plans.  These services are provided to students who meet specific eligibility requirements outlined by  Federal and State rules and Regulations.  Decisions regarding implementation of services are determined by IEP and 504 teams.  

Students with disabilities who do not qualify for an individualized education program under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, may qualify for services under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 if the student (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of a physical or mental impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment.  See below for more information on 504 plans.

 Questions about the identification, assessment and placement of students should be directed to Jill Thornton, Director of Special Services.

Below are links to special education sites through the Illinois State Board of Education that provide further information for special education services.

Understanding Special Education in Illinois

Understanding Special Education in Illinois (Spanish) 

Procedural Safeguards

Behavioral Interventions Policy and Procedures 

Special Education and Related Services:

East Peoria High School provides the special education and related services as identified by the IEP team. Services and supports provide specially designed instruction to meet the educational needs and goals identified by the IEP team.  Related services are designed to support students in benefitting from special education and include but are not limited to social work, psychological services, speech/language therapy, transportation, assistive technology, occupational and physical therapy, and adaptive physical education.  It is important to note that related services are determined based on educational needs and differ in eligibility and services provided within a medical model.

The District maintains related service logs that document the type and number of minutes of related service administered under a student’s individualized education program (IEP).  These related service logs are available to parents/guardians at a student’s annual review IEP meeting.  Parents/guardians may also request a copy of any IEP related service log maintained for their child.  Please direct any requests for a copy of a related service log for your child to the Director of Special Services.

Continuum of Services:

A full continuum of services is available for all students who qualify for special education. Students with disabilities may receive services exclusively in the general education classroom or within a residential setting, with many other options in between. Services and supports are individually designed by the IEP team and aligned to the educational needs of the student.

The vast majority of our students receive services within East Peoria High School. Additionally, specialized classrooms are available in the district for students who need additional support. Each of the specialized classrooms provides a smaller student/teacher ratio, increased intensity of services and a focused methodology aligned to student’s needs.

-Within three days of your student’s IEP meeting, the IEP paperwork will be emailed to you for your review.  We will not include paperwork that determines eligibility or educational placement as those are decisions we will make together as an IEP team

-If you prefer your documents be mailed, please notify the special education office at 694-8319.  

-You have the right to review your student’s records at any time

-You have the right to request service logs for related services

-You will be notified if an IEP service is not implemented within ten school days after the service was set to be initiated as set forth in the IEP.

Section 504 Plans:

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education. East Peoria District 309 provides a free and appropriate education for students who are eligible for a 504 plan by individually designing accommodations/modifications and or services to meet their educational needs in the same manner as their non-disabled peers. It is important to note that students with a section 504 plan are considered general education students.

In order to be eligible for services under a section 504 plan, a student must have a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life functions.  A mental or physical disability includes but is not limited to: ADHD, anxiety, allergies, asthma, blind, deaf, autism, diabetes, dyslexia, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, visual impairment, depression, bipolar, HIV/AIDS, learning disability, or an emotional disability.  A major life function includes but is not limited to: caring for self, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working, body functioning.

A team of individuals that have knowledge of the student develops a written plan that identifies the accommodations/modifications and services a student needs to access the general education.

Section 504 legal information below:


All Special Education and 504 records will be disposed of five years after the student graduates from high school or leaves the school district.  Notices are placed on the school website and newspaper publications.  Records can be requested by the student at that time.

The District is not responsible for the content and accessibility of external websites linked onto the District’s website. External websites are the sole property of such websites and, as such, the content and accessibility of external websites are the sole responsibility of the entity or entities in control of the content and administration of such website.

Restricted Time Out Reduction Plan:

Restricted Time Out Reduction Plan.

Special Education Staff

Erin Theleritis (Lead Teacher) - 309-698-7576 - etheleritis@ep309.org

Mrs. Theleritis is a 1993 graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. In 2006, she received her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Olivet Nazarene University. She currently co-teaches in the English Department and Math Department. Mrs. Theleritis is the Lead Teacher for the Special Education Department. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband, son & daughter. She can usually be found sitting in the stands cheering her children on at a sporting event when she isn’t shopping or watching reality TV!

Tracey Carlson - 309-698-7527 - tcarlson@ep309.org

Mrs. Tracey Carlson graduated from Bradley University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education.  She started working at East Peoria High School in 2007 and has been working here ever since! Mrs. Carlson loves coaching the Raiders track and field Special Olympic team.  In her spare time she enjoys traveling, shopping, going to concerts and spending time with her 4 children, Gavin, Grant, Sarah and Eleanor.

Mission for the Class :

In my classroom, I strive to create an active and welcoming atmosphere. All students are encouraged to actively participate on a daily basis, while having fun learning. I encourage learning through active and engaging activities, hoping to make learning relevant and meaningful. 

Josh Childs- 309-698-7545 - jchilds@ep309.org - Website

Mr. Childs is a long time resident of East Peoria, graduating from EPCHS himself in 1996 and joined the United States Army. After his military service he attended ICC and Bradley University, graduating in 2006 with his Bachelor’s degree in Special and Elementary Education. Mr. Childs currently co-teaches freshman English, High School 101, and is as a member of the Freshman Academy team, and also serves as the Girls Varsity soccer coach. In his spare time, Mr. Childs loves to spend time with his wife and son, and he enjoys the outdoors, camping, and hiking with his family.

Tamme Dimitroff - 309-698-7502 - tdimitroff@ep309.org

Tamme Laughlin-Dimitroff is a speech language pathologist with her M.S. from Western Illinois University, ASHA CCC’s and IL state license. She has been practicing in schools and skilled nursing facilities since 1991. Tamme has experience with augmentative communication, autism, assistive technology, receptive and expressive language, articulation, stuttering and a variety of other therapeutic approaches. Originally from Milan, Illinois, Tamme has been involved with volunteering with Girl Scouts, her church, Friends of the Armstrong Prairie and EP STEM. Tamme currently is the sponsor of the EPCHS Chess Club. When not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family, creating art, reading and being outdoors.

Teresa Eberle - 309-698-7538 - teberle@ep309.org

Mrs. Eberle graduated from Illinois State University and later attended Walden University where she obtained her Master’s degree in Education. She started her career in 1993 at Pekin High School, and came to East Peoria in 1995. Mrs. Eberle currently teaches English and business classes. Mrs. Eberle has served as a class sponsor, and has been active in various union committees. She and her husband have two children. In her spare time, Mrs. Eberle enjoys exercising, spending time outdoors, watching old movies, reading and spending time with her family and friends.

Erica Reinhart - 309-698-7511 - ereinhart@ep309.org

Ms. Reinhart is a 2009 graduate of Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education: Learning and Behavioral Studies, and is currently in the process of working towards a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on literacy through Western Illinois University. She has been teaching here at EPCHS since the fall of 2009 and is a 2003 graduate from EPCHS herself. In addition to teaching, Ms. Reinhart is the choreographer for our school musicals and is on the Alumni Scholarship Council, and in the past was our Raiderette coach for seven years, junior class advisor, prom committee advisor, and International Club advisor. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, dancing, pop culture trivia, binging movies and TV shows, reading, and cooking.

Pete McGinnes - 309-694-8333 - pmcginnes@ep309.org

Pete McGinnes earned his Special Education degree from Illinois State University. I teach a variety of subject areas. When I am not teaching, I am either coaching or officiating a sporting event.

Erika Ridge - 309-698-7508 - eridge@ep309.org

Mrs. Erika Ridge, Teacher of the Life Academy 18-22 Transition Program. Bachelor of Science in Education from EIU, Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Aurora University, and Special Education Transition Specialist from ISU. I began teaching at EPCHS in 2003. I love teaching the students of the Life Academy Program and assist them in learning skills to become active and participating citizens of the community. I am married with one son. I spend the majority of my free time watching him play basketball, travel soccer, and travel baseball.

Jill Thornton - 309-694-8361 - jthornton@ep309.org

I'm Jill Thornton, Director of Special Services. I graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor's degree and then graduated from University of Illinois in 1990 with a Master's degree in School Social Work. I attended Bradley University where I received my administrative certificate endorsement and have worked in school administration since 2007. I joined the staff at East Peoria in 2012. East Peoria is an excellent school district that has wonderful resources to meet the needs of all our students and I'm excited to have the opportunity to further my career here.

Evan Schaller - 309-698-7549 - eschaller@ep309.org

Evan grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Evan received his Bachelor’s of Arts from Northeastern Illinois University in May of 2013. He taught up in Sparland, Illinois for 4 years before coming to EPCHS at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. While in Sparland, Evan earned his Master’s of Arts in Educational Leadership in 2019. In Mr. Schaller’s spare time, he enjoys watching movies, playing board games, and spending time with his wife.  

Bethanie Whittaker - 309-694-8369 - bwhittaker@ep309.org

Nely Hatfield - 309-698-7565 - nhatfield@ep309.org

Donna Nichols - 309-694-xxxx - dnichols@ep309.org

I am a new special education self-contained teacher at EPCHS this year.  I spent the past 5 years in North Iowa teaching high school special education students while my youngest son was attending University of Iowa. I raised my sons here in Washington, IL and have returned to Illinois to be closer to them. I am thrilled to be teaching the students that I love at EPCHS. I am very involved in St. Jude fundraising and travel around the US and Europe when not at work.  I am also a runner, cyclist, hiker, and practice and lead yoga. 

Emma Harris - 309-698-7544 - eharris@ep309.org

Miss. Harris is a 2022 graduate of Eureka College with her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Special Education. She is currently in the process of obtaining her Master of Arts in Social Emotional Learning through National University. In the fall of 2022, she began teaching at EPCHS. When she is not teaching, she is the Best Buddies Advisor and Co-Junior Class advisor, as well as a member of the coaching staff for EPCHS in the volleyball and women's soccer program, and the volleyball coaching staff at Roanoke Benson Middle School.