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About NDE

About the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE)

History. The first schools in the Nebraska territory were established by missionaries. The U.S. Army also started schools near Fort Atkinson (near present-day Fort Calhoun) in the 1820s. In 1855, the first Legislature of the Nebraska Territory adopted a free-school law, one year after the territory was established. Nebraska’s present public education system is based on the state constitution adopted in 1875. The state constitution directs the Legislature to offer free instruction in public schools for people between 5 and 21 years of age. School attendance is mandatory for children 6 to 18 years of age. Public schools also provide special education for children with disabilities.

Governance. The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is a constitutional agency that operates under the authority of an elected, nonpartisan board of education. A board-appointed commissioner oversees administration of the state school system.

Purpose. The NDE employees carry out the mission of the agency on behalf of Nebraska students in public, private, and nonpublic school systems. NDE staff interacts with schools and institutions of higher education to develop, coordinate, and improve educational programs. Click on the following link for NDE’s mission, vision, and values.

The work of the agency. Approximately 505 employees carry out the myriad duties assigned by state and federal statues and the policy direction of the State Board of Education. In broad terms, the work of NDE may be categorized into four main areas:

  1. Education,
  2. Assisting people with disabilities to join the workforce (Vocational Rehabilitation),
  3. Adjudication of claims for disability benefits under Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (Disability Determination Section), and
  4. Agency operations.

Education. The NDE provides a broad range of consultative and support services for Nebraska public, non-public, and homeschools. Services are provided in areas such as:

  • Adult education and GED®
  • After school programs
  • Career and technical education
  • Data management
  • Early childhood
  • Family and community engagement
  • Federal programs
  • Health services
  • Mental health services
  • Nutrition services
  • School accreditation
  • School improvement
  • School safety
  • Special education
  • Teaching, learning and assessment

Approximately 201 NDE employees work in this area.

Disability Determination Services.
The DDS determines whether Nebraskans are medically eligible to receive disability benefits under Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security disability program can be compared to a private insurance policy since workers obtain “coverage” by paying “premiums” in the form of the FICA deductions from their pay checks. Workers who have sufficient covered employment are eligible to receive benefits if they are no longer able to work because of injury or illness. SSI is a public assistance program in which payments are available based on a combination of disability and meeting a means test. Applications for benefits are taken at the Social Security field offices across the state and forwarded to the DDS office in Lincoln. DDS staff members obtain and evaluate medical and vocational documentation in order to determine each applicant’s medical eligibility for benefits.

Approximately 69 NDE employees work in this area.

Vocational Rehabilitation. Since 1921, the Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation program has helped individuals with disabilities prepare for, find, and keep a job while helping business recruit, train, and retain employees with disabilities. Services are provided or arranged through an employment team and may include vocational evaluation, career planning, independent living, assistive technology, job training, and placement. District offices are located in Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln, Norfolk, North Platte, Omaha, and Scottsbluff, with satellite offices in Columbus, Fremont, Hastings, O’Neill, and South Sioux City. The agency receives approximately 20 percent of its funding from the state and 80 percent from the federal government.

Vocational Rehabilitation staff work with students with disabilities as early as age 14. To meet the employment needs of students with disabilities, Nebraska VR provides pre-employment transition services which include:

  • Job exploration counseling
  • Workplace readiness training
  • Work-based learning experiences
  • Counseling on comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational programs
  • Instruction in self-advocacy

Approximately 235 NDE employees work in Vocational Rehabilitation.

Agency Operations. This facet of the agency’s work involves areas such as accounting, budget and grants management, data management, finance, human resources, public information and communications, legal services, technology services, and office services.

Approximately 65 or 12.8% of NDE employees work in this area.

NDE Employees by Function
As of 3/9/23

Function Number of Employees
Disability Determination Services (DDS) 69
Education Organization 201
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) 235
Total 505

NDE Employees by Work Location
As of 3/9/23

Work Location Number of Employees
Columbus 8
Fremont 3
Grand Island 18
Hastings 4
Kearney 18
Lincoln 349
Norfolk 17
North Platte 15
Omaha 62
O’Neill 1
Scottsbluff 9
South Sioux City 1
Total 505
Updated July 28, 2023 3:25pm