Senior Director, Office of Exceptional Children

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

In April of 2023, Carol Ann M. Hudgens started her role as Senior Director of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Office of Exceptional Children. We had the pleasure of interviewing her and learning more about how she started in the field of special education and her thoughts and guidance on the school year ahead and what she is most excited about. Read the interview below!

What brought you into the field of Special Education?

I had the opportunity to include a semester of special education coursework prior to graduation with my B.S. in Elementary Education. I really appreciated the extra skillset the training provided during my first teaching assignment. Once I gained tenure as an elementary teacher, I requested a change in teaching assignment to work in special education because I wanted to spend more time with students who learned differently. Over time I went back to school to pursue a master's degree in Special Education and an Ed.S and Ed.D in educational leadership in order to expand my ability to advocate and support programs for children with disabilities. This work has been my passion for the last twenty-five years and I have been fortunate to work in South Carolina and Tennessee before coming to North Carolina ten years ago as the Section Chief for Policy, Monitoring, and Audit in the Office of Exceptional Children and now as the Senior Director.


DPI Preparing for the Beginning of the Year Parent Newsletter

Back to School Tips from the ECAC Staff

August Tool Time Tuesdays

ECAC has several Tool Time Tuesday webinars scheduled this month to help you prepare for the school year. Tool Time Tuesday segments are 30 minutes every Tuesday at noon. 

August 8th - The STAR Program

August 15th - The IEP Checklist

August 22nd - ECAC, Equity & the LENS-NC Group

August 29th - Questions to Ask

Click here to register for TTT

Mapping Parent Support across NC

This online resource highlights statewide and regional support opportunities for parents/guardians/caregivers of North Carolina children & youth.

Grievances and Complaints

Guide to understanding when and how to file a school-based grievance or complaint.

Special Education

Updated resources related to special education! Do you have questions related to special education, IEPs, 504s, or want to learn more about whether your child qualifies for more supports at school? Check out updated best practices, answers to common questions, and email templates that you can use to contact your child's school.


Check out the website for: (1) A guide to reporting bullying and/or harassment; (2) The definition of bullying under NC law; (3) Action steps to take if the bullying continues after you report it; and (4) Community resources for support.

Top Tips for a Successful Start to

the School Year

The beginning of a new school year is a hectic time for families, but it is also a critical time for ensuring that your student has a smooth transition back to school. This webinar will provide concrete strategies you can use to build good relationships with school staff, establish consistent routines for your student, and stay on top of your student’s progress. Learn more.

Children benefit when the adults in their lives are able to see “the big picture” by understanding them as unique individuals. Parents and other caregivers help to “paint the big picture” when they share who their child is, what they can do, and how others can relate and respond to the child.

Parents know many things about who their children are and what their children can do. After all, parents are their children’s first teachers! When parents share what they know about their children, school staff are better able to support their students to learn, participate and succeed.

This guide provides information and tools needed to be an informed and effective advocate for your child during your child’s years in school, from preschool through high school. The focus of the Guide is the federal special education law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that promises each child with a disability a “free, appropriate, public education.” This Guide is not designed to be read from beginning to end; instead it is designed so that a reader can get quickly to the part that will be most helpful at any given time.

Painting the Big Picture
Parent Rights & Responsibilities in Special Education
Parents' Guide to Special Education in NC
IEP Checklist

November is Family Engagement Month. This is an opportunity to highlight the important role families and educators play in the education and well-being of children throughout the school year. Families who have children enrolled in NC public schools are invited to nominate their child’s school /teacher for the, “Tell Us Something Good” award. Share an experience that you’ve had with your child’s teacher / school that shows their welcoming attitude and enthusiasm in working with families to create a positive experience for students with disabilities and their families. You can submit a video clip that is no more than two minutes or a written submission of 260 words or less. It could be an experience from this past school year through October 2023.

The winner will be determined by the number of “likes” each video clip or written submission receives on ECAC’s Facebook page. The contest will open on Monday, October 2nd and submissions will be accepted until 11:59 am on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023. The school with the most votes will receive a $1000.00 award to go towards a family engagement activity for families at their school. The parent/ caregiver who submitted the winning entry will receive a $200.00 gift card. The winning school will be announced live during ECAC’s Tool Time Tuesday Broadcast in November.

Start Early, as the transition back to school begins. Be on the lookout for that winning submission. More details will be made available in September. For more information contact Beverly Roberts, Have a great start to the school year.

Medicaid & CHIP

As kids return to school this fall, having health insurance is important so they can fully engage in the classroom. Make sure you’re prepared for the school year – and get health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. If your family is already covered, make sure all contact information is up-to-date with your state Medicaid office.

Learn More

Join the Youth Development Initiative!

Transition to adulthood can be difficult. Where do you go for help? The Center for Transition to Adult Health Care for Youth with Disabilities would like to share this exciting new opportunity for youth with disabilities. This opportunity will allow youth (12-17) with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to gain an understanding of healthcare transition and gain advocacy skills, from and with young adults with disabilities. Read more

Social Story

Check out this social story on deep breathing. Helpful for some kiddos as they head back to school.

"One thing I can do when I need help calming my body is deep breathing. It is a great coping strategy to use when I feel angry, upset, or overwhelmed."

Read more

Questions for the Upcoming School Year? Please click here to contact a Parent Educator
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