Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

Qualifying for special education

There are three steps: Referral process, evaluation, & eligibility. 

REFERRAL PROCESS: Anyone can ask the school to decide if a child needs special education. A parent, a teacher, a nurse or a doctor can ask. This is called a referral. A referral must be written. You can send a referral letter to the principal or special education director.

disability identification

  • Speech or Language Impairment

  • Specific Learning Disability

  • Other Health Impaired (ex: ADHD)

  • Serious Emotional Disability

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Developmental Delay (up to age 8)

  • Intellectual Disability (ID)

  • Multiple Disabilities (ID plus one other disability)

  • Orthopedic Impairment

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Visual Impairment, Including Blindness

  • Hearing Impairment, Including Deafness

  • Deaf-Blindness

504  VS.  IEP plan

If your child receives special education services, they must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is an important legal document which spells out your child’s learning needs, the services and supports the school will provide and how progress will be measured. It is a requirement under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) a federal special education law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities.

If your child has a disability but does not qualify for an IEP because they do not require specialized instruction or special education to benefit from their education, then they may qualify for a 504 Plan. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disabilities. It applies to public elementary and secondary schools among other entities. A 504 plan focuses on guaranteeing equal access to educational services for students with disabilities. The plan will include all necessary accommodations and services to ensure equal access. It is a legally binding document.

advocating for

your child

  • Participation in IEP meeting

  • Monitoring progress

  • Addressing concerns

special education & civil rights laws

  • IDEA

  • ECEA

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

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