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What Is Special Education?

In 1975, Congress passed Public Law 94-142, now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), to ensure all students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE). Prior to this law's inception, getting an education was no easy matter for children with disabilities. For those few who were lucky enough to receive an education, they were segregated or excluded from school entirely.

Change was a gradual process. However, it guaranteed that children with disabilities would no longer be denied a free and appropriate education. This law stated that schools must:

  • find and identify students who have a disability
  • make sure parents participate in decision making
  • evaluate (test) students in a non-discriminatory manner
  • develop a transition plan (ITP) for adults
  • make placement decisions
  • ensure protective, due process rights


Who Needs Special Education?

If the comprehensive individual assessment indicates that a student has one or more of the following conditions, he/she is eligible to receive special education services under the IDEA:

  • Autism
  • Deaf Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairments
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment, Including Blindness


How are students identified?

1.) If a student is suspected of having a disability then he or she should be referred to Special Education for testing

2.) Parents are notified that the school wants to do an assessment.

3.) Parents agree to test or not to test student.

4.) A comprehensive individual assessment is done in the area(s) of the suspected disability

5.) Through the referral and assessment processes, eligibility for services is determined


A Guide to the ARD Process- UPDATED February 2021

ARD Guide (English)

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Notice of Procedural Safeguards - UPDATED September 2022

Procedural Safeguards (English)

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