Is a federally mandated program in which students found to be eligible for special education and related services--due to the presence of one or more disabilities that negatively impacts educational performance--are provided with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that outlines the appropriate educational program, placement, supports and services they need to make educational gains in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent possible.
The Child Study Team—comprised of the School Psychologist, School Social Worker, Learning Disabilities Teacher/Consultant and Speech and Language Specialist—oversees the special education program, provides academic, behavioral and emotional/social support to students in both the regular and special education settings, helps teachers maximize student performance and works with parents to foster their child’s optimal emotional and social development and functioning through a variety of programs and services.
The Special Education Process:
If a child is experiencing difficulty making educational gains in the general education curriculum and interventions—often developed by participants making up the Intervention and Referral Services Committee—a written referral to the Supervisor of Special Services is made.
Within 20 calendar days of the receipt of the written referral, the Child Study Team holds an Initial Evaluation Planning Meeting attended by the School Psychologist, School Social Worker, Learning Disabilities Teacher/Consultant, Speech and Language Specialist (if needed) the referring teacher and the parent to review data relevant to the child’s educational performance and needs, determine if an evaluation is required and define the nature and scope of the evaluation, if warranted, in order to determine a child’s eligibility for special education and related services. Evaluations may include the following:
- Social History
- Speech and Language
- Auditory Processing
- Language Processing
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
Parents have 15 days to review the evaluation plan. Written consent is required for assessments to be carried out. If consent is not provided and no other action is agreed upon, the district may request mediation or a due process hearing through the Office of Administrative Law. Once the assessments are complete, an Eligibility Conference is held to review test findings. A child is found eligible for special education and related services when he/she meets the criteria of one or more of 14 disability categories, it is determined that his/her disability negatively impacts educational performance and it is noted that special education and related services are required to make continued progress in the general education curriculum.
At the conclusion of the Eligibility Conference or at a scheduled meeting to follow, participants—which now also includes a special education teacher--gather to develop a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) that outlines his/her program and placement. The IEP includes—among other things--evaluation findings, describes the impact of a child’s disability in making progress in the general education curriculum, identifies areas of strength, delineates accommodations and modifications, supplementary aids and services and related services that will be provided for the student or on his/her behalf to make educational gains, participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities and be educated with typically developing peers to the maximum extent possible and defines goals and objects to be the focus of instruction for the coming year. When it is recommended that a child receive instruction outside of the general education setting for more than twenty percent of the school day, the IEP must supply the rationale for doing so.
A full continuum of special education programs is available for school aged students who require special education and related services. Educational program options include: instruction in a general education setting with necessary and appropriate supports, in class and pull-out resource center programs, special education programs in district and out of district placement in public or private schools. Instruction at home, in medical institutions or other facilities may be appropriate for some students. Students may also receive related services such as such as speech/language services, occupational therapy, physical therapy and counseling in order to meet their educational needs.
Parents must provide written consent to implement the IEP. The IEP should be implemented as soon as possible following consent and always within 90-calendar day from the time a parent grants permission to evaluate.
Annually, or sooner if requested by the district or the parents, the IEP Team, consisting of a Child Study Team case manager, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, and parents, meet to review and revise a child’s IEP and determine program and placement. The revised IEP document is sent to the parent within 15 calendar days of the meeting.
Within three years, of the previous classification or sooner, if requested, a child is up for re-evaluation. A re-evaluation planning meeting is held during which it is determined if an evaluation is warranted to determine whether a child remains eligible for special education and related services. Meeting participants may determine that no additional testing is needed to determine that a child remains eligible. Parents have 15 days to review the re-evaluation plan. If evaluations are conducted, an Eligibility Conference is held to review test findings and determine eligibility according to the criteria outlined earlier. If a child remains eligible, an IEP meeting can take place immediately or at a later date. Once the IEP is developed, parents have 15 days to review it and provide consent. If parents do not sign the IEP and do not express their disagreement in writing, the IEP is implemented after 15 calendar days. The re-evaluation process must be completed within 60 days.
For a more detailed explanation of the special education process and parents’ rights, please contact the Child Study Team.