NORTHWEST INDIANA SPECIAL EDUCATION COOPERATIVE HISTORY
In February of 1969, twenty school corporations throughout Lake and Porter Counties joined together in an effort to develop special education programs for the child who was “different”.
Dr. Edward McDonald was given the task of organizing these efforts.
By June 1969, a summer program was offered for deaf, blind, multiply handicapped, emotionally disturbed and trainable students in the twenty districts. Other plans were also under way for school year programming.
In April 1970, recommendations were presented to the State Department of Public Instruction to provide services for students with special needs. The Gary School Corporation would provide their own services, Hammond and East Chicago served students cooperatively, Porter County Schools developed a Cooperative and the thirteen remaining districts formed the Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative (NISEC). Those thirteen districts were the following: Crown Point, East Gary, Griffith, Hanover, Highland, Hobart, Hobart Township, Lake Central, Lake Ridge, Ross Township, Munster, Tri-Creek and Whiting.
Dr. Edward McDonald accepted the position as Director of NISEC. The Cooperative Staff consisted of the Director, three Teachers of Emotionally Disturbed, six Teachers of Trainable Mentally Handicapped, five School Psychologists, three work study counselors, six Teacher Assistants and one Secretary. The total number of staff was twenty-five.
In 1971, three of the original districts withdrew from NISEC to provide the services on their own. These districts were: Munster, Lake Central and Whiting. The remaining ten districts began discussions about building a facility to provide the services for students with special needs. A central location was found in Crown Point, Indiana, and plans were formulated.
Mr. Thomas J. Kelly became the second Director of Special Education in 1975. The new NISEC Center School was dedicated in 1976 and served about 150 students with severe disabilities from the 10 districts.
In August of 1977, Mr. Richard Surber was appointed as the third Director of Special Education for NISEC. With the new facility, he was able to provide appropriate vocational and recreational activities for students with severe disabilities. As the attitude and atmosphere changes about students with disabilities, Mr. Surber was also able to assure that students with mild disabilities were served in their home school or home districts. More community-based activities were provided and preschool services were increased for those students ages three to five.
Today, Mrs. Jane Winkoff is the Executive Director of Special Education, servicing eight school districts in Northwest Indiana. NISEC services thirty-nine public schools and twenty-one private schools within those eight school districts. NISEC has close to four hundred staff members and is growing every day.