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Special Education FAQ

Back To Special Education

Why is my child struggling in school?

When children are struggling in school, it’s important to find out why. It may be that a disability is affecting your child’s educational performance. If so, your child may be eligible for special education and related services that can help. To learn more about special education, keep reading. This publication will help you learn how you and the school can work together to help your child.

As a first step, the school may need to try sufficient interventions in the regular education classroom and modify instructional practices before referring your child for special education evaluation.

What is special education?

Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of children who have disabilities. Special education and related services are provided in public schools at no cost to the parents and can include special instruction in the classroom, at home, in hospitals or institutions, or in other settings. This definition of special education comes from IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law gives eligible children with disabilities the right to receive special services and assistance in school.

More than 6.8 million children ages 3 through 21 receive special education and related services each year in the United States. Each of these children receives instruction that is specially designed:

– to meet his or her unique needs (that result from having a disability); and

– to help the child learn the information and skills that other children are learning in the general education curriculum.

Who is eligible for special education?

Children with disabilities are eligible for special education and related services when they meet IDEA’s definition of a “child with a disability” in combination with state and local policies. IDEA’s definition of a “child with a disability” lists 13 different disability categories under which a child may be found eligible for special education and related services. These categories are listed in the box on this page. IDEA describes what each of these disability categories means. Click to view online: Categories Of Disability Under IDEA. States and school districts must follow IDEA’s definitions, but they also may add details to guide decision making about children’s eligibility. That’s why it’s important to know what your state and local policies are. We’ll tell you how to find.

How do I find out if my child is eligible?

You can ask the school to evaluate your child. Call or write the director of special education or the principal of your child’s school. Describe your concerns with your child’s educational performance and request an evaluation under IDEA, to see if a disability is involved.

The public school may also be concerned about how your child is learning and developing. If the school thinks that your child may have a disability, then it must evaluate your child at no cost to you. The school must ask your permission and receive your written consent before it may evaluate your child. Once you provide that consent, the evaluation must be conducted within 60 days (or within the time frame the state has established).

However, the school does not have to evaluate your child just because you have asked. The school may not think your child has a disability or needs special education. In this case, the school may refuse to evaluate your child. It must let you know this decision in writing, as well as why it has refused. This is called giving you prior written notice. For more information about prior written notice, see NICHCY’s webpage Right to Receive Prior Written Notice. Click to view online: Right To Receive Prior Written Notice.

If the school refuses to evaluate your child, there are two things you can do immediately:

– Ask the school system for information about its special education policies, as well as parent rights to disagree with decisions made by the school system. These materials should describe the steps parents can take to appeal a school system’s decision.

– Get in touch with your state’s Parent Training and Information (PTI) center. The PTI is an excellent resource for parents to learn more about special education, their rights and responsibilities, and the law. The PTI can tell you what steps to take next to find help for your child. Visit NICHCY’s website to identify how to contact your PTI. This information appears on our State Resource Sheet for your state, under “Organizations Especially for Parents.” Click to view State Sheets online: State Resource Sheet.

What happens during an evaluation?

Evaluating your child means more than the school just giving your child a test. The school must evaluate your child in all the areas where your child may be affected by the possible disability. This may include looking at your child’s health, vision, hearing, social and emotional well-being, general intelligence, performance in school, and how well your child communicates with others and uses his or her body. The evaluation must be individualized (just your child) and full and comprehensive enough to determine if your child has a disability and to identify all of your child’s needs for special education and related services if it is determined that your child has a disability.

The evaluation process involves several steps. These are listed below.

Reviewing existing information. A team of people, including you, begins by looking at the information the school already has about your child. You may have information about your child you wish to share as well. The team will look at information such as:

– your child’s scores on tests given in the class- room or to all students in your child’s grade;

– the opinions and observations of your child’s teachers and other school staff who know your child; and

– your feelings, concerns, and ideas about how your child is doing in school.

Deciding if more information is still needed. The information collected above will help the group decide:

– if your son or daughter has a particular type of disability;

– how your child is currently doing in school;

– whether your child needs special education and related services; and✧ what your child’s educational needs are.

If the information the team collects doesn’t answer these questions, then the school must collect more information about your child.

Collecting more information about your child. Your informed written permission is required before the school may collect additional information about your son or daughter. The school must also describe how it will collect the information. This includes describing the tests that will be used and the other ways the school will gather information about your child. After you give your consent, the school will go ahead as described. The information it gathers will give the evaluation team the information it needs to make the types of decisions listed above.

How does the school collect this information?

The school collects information about your child from many different people and in many different ways. Tests are an important part of an evaluation, but they are only a part. The evaluation should also include:
✧ the observations and opinions of professionals who have worked with your child;
✧ your child’s medical history, when it relates to his or her performance in school; and
✧ your ideas about your child’s school experiences, abilities, needs, and behavior outside of school, and his or her feelings about school.
The following people will be part of the team evaluating your child:
✧ you, as parents;
✧ at least one regular education teacher, if your child is or may be participating in the regular educational environment;
✧ at least one of your child’s special education teachers or service providers;
✧ a school administrator who knows about policies for special education, about children with disabilities, about the general education curriculum (the curriculum used by students who do not have disabilities), and about available resources;
✧ someone who can interpret the evaluation results and talk about what instruction may be necessary for your child;
✧ individuals (invited by you or the school) who have knowledge or special expertise about your child;
✧ your child, if appropriate;
✧ representatives from any other agencies that may be responsible for paying for or providing transition services (if your child is age 16 or, if appropriate, younger and will be planning for life after high school); and
✧ other qualified professionals.

What does the school do with these evaluation results?

The information gathered from the evaluation will be used to make important decisions about your child’s education. All of the information about your child will be used:

– to decide if your child is eligible for special education and related services; and

– to help you and the school decide what your child needs educationally.

Can a parent request a second evaluation at district expense?

Yes. When the district has completed an evaluation, the results are reported to the IEP Team. A parent may believe that the results do not accurately reflect their child’s abilities. In that situation, the parent may review the test results in more detail with the examiner. If the parent still thinks that the test results are different from how they see their child, the parent may request in writing to have a second evaluation. The retesting of the student by another examiner may be accomplished by a different staff person (e.g., a different speech and language therapist in the district. 
A more formal process is for the parent to exercise their right to an independent educational evaluation (IEE). The retesting of the student may be done through an IEE at no cost to the parent. Parents may request an IEE whenever they disagree with an evaluation completed by the district. If the IEE is to be completed at district expense, the district will provide information regarding the criteria for credentials of qualified examiners, suggested sources and locations, procedures for reimbursement, reasonable expected costs and notification that the parent is not restricted to using the sources for an evaluation recommended by the district. The IEE process begins by the parent making a written request stating their disagreement with the district’s evaluation and asking for an IEE. There are other restrictions and requirements for an IEE that are explained in the Parent Handbook and Procedural Safeguards available from your district’s Special Education office.

Must parent-paid private evaluations be considered by an IEP team?

If a parent chooses to share a parent-paid private evaluation with the IEP Team, the IEP Team must consider the results. The information is valuable parent input to the IEP Team. If a parent chooses to share the report, it is best practice to provide the information before the IEP Team meeting. This will allow the IEP Team members time to consider the information in preparation of the team meeting.

Does a district have to honor outside opinions and suggestions, especially if it comes from the doctor?

As discussed in the previous questions, at the next IEP Team meeting, the district will accept input from the parent and that may include medical reports, private therapist reports or input from other agencies. The IEP Team will consider input from sources outside of the district. The information contributes a perspective for the IEP Team in their development of the student’s IEP. This information will be reviewed for its relevance to the student’s needs in an educational setting.

How is my child's eligibility for special education decided?

As was said earlier, the decision about your child’s eligibility for services is based on whether your son or daughter has a disability that fits into one of the IDEA’s 13 disability categories and meets any additional state or local criteria for eligibility. This decision will be made when the evaluation has been completed, and the results are available.

Parents are part of the team that decides a child’s eligibility for special education. This team will look at all of the information gathered during the evaluation and decide if your child meets the definition of a “child with a disability.” If so, your child will be eligible for special education and related services.

Under IDEA, a child may not be found eligible for services if the determining reason for thinking the child is eligible is that:

– the child has limited English proficiency, or

– the child has not had appropriate instruction in math or reading.

If your child is found eligible, you and the school will work together to design an individualized education program for your child. This process is described in detail in Part III.

The school will give you a copy of the evaluation report on your child and the paperwork about your child’s eligibility for special education and related services. This documentation is provided at no cost to you.

What happens if my child is not eligible for special education?

If the eligibility team decides that your child is not eligible for special education, the school system must tell you this in writing and explain why your child has been found “not eligible.” Under IDEA, you must also be given information about what you can do if you disagree with this decision.

Read the information the school system gives you. Make sure it includes information about how to appeal the school system’s decision. If that information is not in the materials the school gives you, ask the school for it. IDEA includes many different mechanisms for resolving disagreements, including mediation. The school is required to tell you what those mechanisms are and how to use them.

What happens if my child is found eligible for special education, but I do not agree?

If your child is found eligible for special education and related services and you disagree with that decision, or if you do not want your child to receive special education and related services, you have the right to decline these services for your child. The school may provide your child with special education and related services only if you agree. Also, you may cancel special education and related services for your child at any time.

It is important to note, however, that if you decline or cancel special education for your child and later change your mind, the evaluation process must be repeated.

So my child has been found eligible for special education, and I agree. What's next?

The next step is to write and implement what is known as an Individualized Education Program— usually called an IEP. After a child is found eligible, a meeting must be held within 30 days.

What is an IEP?

The acronym IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. This is a written document that describes the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education must have an IEP.

The IEP has two general purposes: (1) to set learning goals for your child; and (2) to state the supports and services that the school district will provide for your child.

What type of information is included in an IEP?

According to IDEA, your child’s IEP must include specific statements. These are listed in the box on page 8 entitled ”What Information is in Your Child’s IEP?” Take a moment to read over this list.

It is very important that children who receive special education participate in the general education curriculum as much as possible. That is, they should learn the same curriculum as children without disabilities—for example, reading, math, science, social studies, and physical education. In some cases, this curriculum may need to be adapted for your child to learn, but it should not be omitted. Participation in extracurricular activities and other nonacademic activities is also important. Your child’s IEP needs to be written with this in mind.

For example, what special education and related services will help your child participate in the general education curriculum—in other words, to study what other students are studying? What special education, related services, or supports will help your child take part in extracurricular activities such as school clubs or sports? When your child’s IEP is developed, an important part of the discussion will be how to support your child in regular education classes and activities in the school.

Who develops my child's IEP?

Many people come together to develop your child’s IEP. This group is called the IEP team and includes most of the same types of individuals who were involved in your child’s evaluation. Team members will include:

– you, the parents;

– at least one regular education teacher, if your child is (or may be) participating in the regular education environment;

– at least one of your child’s special education teachers or special education providers;

– a representative of the school system who (a) is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education, (b) knows about the general education curriculum; and (c) knows about the resources the school system has available;

– an individual who can interpret the evaluation results and talk about what instruction may be necessary for your child;

– your child, when appropriate; and

– other individuals (invited by you or the school) who have knowledge or special expertise about your child. For example, you may wish to invite a relative who is close to your child or a child care provider. The school may wish to invite a related services provider such as a speech therapist or a physical therapist.

With your consent, the school must also invite representatives from any other agencies that are likely to be responsible for paying for or providing transition services (if your child is 16 years old or, if appropriate, younger).

What information is in my child's IEP?

Your child’s IEP will contain the following statements:

– Present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. This statement describes how your child is currently achieving in school. This includes how your child’s disability affects his or her participation and progress in the general education curriculum.

– Annual goals. The IEP must state annual goals for your child, what you and the school team think he or she can reasonably accomplish in a year. The goals must relate to meeting the needs that result from your child’s disability. They must also help your son or daughter participate in and progress in the general education curriculum.

– Special education and related services to be provided. The IEP must list the special education and related services to be provided to your child. This includes supplementary aids and services (e.g., preferential seating, a communication device, one-on-one tutor) that can increase your child’s access to learning and his or her participation in school activities. It also includes changes to the program or supports for school personnel that will be provided for your child.

– Participation with children without disabilities. The IEP must include an explanation that answers this question: How much of the school day will your child be educated separately from children without disabilities or not participate in extracurricular or other nonacademic activities such as lunch or clubs?

– Dates and location. The IEP must state (a) when special education and related and supplementary aids and services will begin; (b) how often they will be provided; (c) where they will be provided; and (d) how long they will last.

– Participation in state and district- wide assessments. Your state and district probably give tests of student achievement to children in certain grades or age groups. In order to participate in these tests, your child may need individual accommodations or changes in how the tests are administered. The IEP team must decide what accommodations your child needs and list them in the IEP. If your child will not be taking these tests, the IEP must include a statement as to why the tests are not appropriate for your child, how your child will be tested instead, and why the alternate assessment selected is appropriate for your child.

– Transition services. By the time your child is 16 (or younger, if the IEP team finds it appropriate for your child), the IEP must include measurable postsecondary goals related to your child’s training, education, employment, and (when appropriate) independent living skills. The IEP must also include the transition services needed to help your child reach those goals, including what your child should study.

– Measuring progress. The IEP must state how school personnel will measure your child’s progress toward the annual goals. It must also state when it will give you periodic reports on your child’s progress.

So I can help develop my child's IEP?

Yes, absolutely. The law is very clear that parents have the right to participate in developing their child’s IEP. In fact, your input is invaluable. You know your child so very well, and the school needs to know your insights and concerns. That’s why IDEA makes parents equal members on the IEP team.

The school staff will try to schedule the IEP meeting at a time that is convenient for all team members to attend. If the school suggests a time that is impossible for you, explain your schedule and needs. It’s important that you attend this meeting and share your ideas about your child’s needs and strengths. Often, another time or date can be arranged.

Can the meeting be held without the parents participating?

Yes. IDEA’s regulations state that the school may hold the IEP meeting without you if it is unable to convince you that you, as parents, should attend. If neither parent can attend the IEP meeting, the school must use other methods to ensure your participation, including video conferences and individual or conference telephone calls.

If, however, you still can’t attend or participate in the IEP meeting, the school may hold the IEP meeting without you—as long as it keeps a record of its efforts to arrange a mutually agreed-on time and place and the results of those efforts. This can be accomplished by keeping detailed records of:

• telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls;

• copies of correspondence sent to you and any responses received; and

• detailed records of visits made to your home or work and the results of those visits.

If the school does hold the meeting without you, it must keep you informed about the meeting and any decisions made there. The school must also ask for (and receive) your written permission before special education and related services may be provided to your child for the first time.

What should I do before the IEP meeting?

The purpose of the IEP meeting is to develop your child’s Individualized Education Program. You can prepare for this meeting by:

– making a list of your child’s strengths and needs;

– talking to teachers and/or therapists and getting their thoughts about your child;

– visiting your child’s class and perhaps other classes that may be helpful to him or her; and

– talking to your child about his or her feelings toward school.

It is a good idea to write down what you think your child can accomplish during the school year. Look at your state’s standards for your child’s grade level. It also helps to make notes about what you would like to say during the meeting.

What factors does the district consider when assigning a one-to-one paraprofessional?

The IEP Team has the responsibility to identify specific and individualized student needs and generate multiple and workable options for meeting those needs, some of which may require extra and temporary paraprofessional assistance. There may be rare circumstances in which educational needs as determined by the IEP Team necessitate some level of paraprofessional staff support beyond what the Michigan rules provide. The goal of utilizing paraprofessional staff is to support the student toward greater independence while teaching the student new routines and utilizing environmental supports.

There is a caution in using paraprofessional services in a one-to-one capacity. Risks related to one-to-one paraprofessional support include:

• Dependence on adults

• Separation from classmates

• Loss of personal control

• Gender sensitive self-care issues

• Negative impact on teacher/student relationship. 
Some of the other factors an IEP Team considers include: assistance needed to support learning for academics and functional skills, self-care needs, communication needs, health-related needs, behavior needs, and needs related to safety concerns.

Are there limits to the accommodations that a student can receive?

Accommodations are limited to the extent that the student has genuine needs for support. “Supplemental aids, services, and personnel supports” is the section in the IEP where the team discusses the need for accommodations. The accommodations are based on research to the extent practicable and are provided in general education classes or other education related settings to enable students with disabilities to be educated with students without disabilities. These supplemental aids, services and supports may include peer tutoring, interpreters, and paraprofessional staff.

Examples of accommodations include: use of calculators, digitally recorded books, notes, note taking, tape recorders, and other technology devices and services. These aids may be provided either through general education or Special Education. A specific listing of any and all accommodations does not exist.

What is the difference between an accommodation and a modification?

Accommodations are supports to the student that assist learning the general education curriculum. Accommodations do not change the content of what is being taught. Accommodations change “how” something is taught to the student and how the student demonstrates understanding of what is taught. 
Modifications are changes to the content of the general education curriculum. When course content is modified, the student is not on track for a high school diploma. A modification in the content for required courses results in the student earning a certificate of completion.

How are assistive technology services accessed?

“The need for assistive technology devices or services” is one of the 11 factors that the IEP Team discusses in order to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). In discussing this factor, the team may conclude a need for an assessment of the student’s need for assistive technology. The IEP Team considers the unique needs of the student regarding assistive technology and then determines how to address those needs. For instance, there may be technology devices from low tech (e.g., adaptive pencil grip) to high tech (communication device) that would be recommended through the “supplemental aids, services, and personnel supports.”

There may be an IEP recommendation or a written parent request for an assistive technology evaluation. This is accomplished by completing the (ATR) Assistive Technology Recommendation form and forwarding it to the local SE director. Evaluation is the responsibility of the local district.

Does the school need my consent to implement the IEP?

The school must obtain your informed written consent before the initial provision of special education and related services to your child and must make reasonable efforts to obtain that consent.

If you don’t respond to the request for consent for the initial provision of special education and related services, or you refuse to give consent, the school system may not override your lack of consent and implement the IEP. The school system is not considered in violation of its requirement to make a free appropriate public education available to your child. Your lack of consent, however, means that your child will not receive special education and related services in school.

May I revoke my consent for special education and related services after initially giving it?

Yes. At any time after providing initial consent, you may revoke consent, in writing, for the continued provision of special education and related services. Once you revoke consent, the school system may no longer provide special education and related services to your child, and they may not use mediation or due process procedures to try to override your revocation of consent.

Once you revoke consent, your child will be no longer receive the services and supports that were included in his or her IEP. Additionally, there are also a number of other consequences that may arise, such as how your child may be disciplined. Therefore, it is important for you to ask questions about how your child’s education will be affected before revoking consent.

Can my child's IEP be changed?

Yes. At least once a year a meeting must be scheduled with you to review your child’s progress and develop your child’s new annual IEP. But you don’t have to wait for this annual review. You (or any other team member) may ask to have your child’s IEP reviewed or revised at any time.

The meeting to revise the IEP will be similar to the IEP meeting described above. The team will talk about:

– your child’s progress toward the goals in the current IEP;

– what new goals should be added; and

– whether any changes need to be made to the special education and related services your child receives.

This annual IEP meeting—or any periodic IEP review you might request—allows you and the school to review your child’s educational program and change it as necessary.

Can the IEP be changed without holding an IEP meeting?

Yes. If you and the school want to change your child’s IEP after the annual IEP meeting, you and the school may agree not to convene an IEP meeting. Instead, you and the school will develop a written document that will amend your child’s IEP. If your child’s IEP is changed, all IEP team members will be informed of the changes, and if you request it, the school must give you a copy of the revised IEP.

Does the IEP meeting have to be in person?

No. When holding an IEP meeting, you and the school may agree to use other means of participation. For example, some members may participate by video conference or conferences calls.

May a team member be excused from attending an IEP meeting?

Yes, under certain circumstances and only with the consent of both the school system and the parent. If the member’s area of the curriculum or related service is not going to be discussed or modified at the meeting, then he or she may be excused if you, as parents, and the school system agree in writing. A member whose area of expertise is going to discussed or changed at the meeting may be excused—under two conditions:

– You (in writing) and the school agree to excuse the member; and

– The member gives written input about developing the IEP to you and the team before the meeting.

Will my child be re-evaluated?

Yes. Under IDEA, your child must be reevaluated at least every three years, unless you and the school agree that a reevaluation is not necessary. The purpose of this reevaluation is to find out:

– if your child continues to be a “child with a disability,” as defined within the law; and

– your child’s educational needs.

The reevaluation is similar to the initial evaluation. It begins by looking at the information already available about your child. More information is collected only if the IEP team determines that more information is needed or if you request it. If the group decides that additional assessments are needed, you must give your informed written permission before the school system may collect that information. The school system may only go ahead without your informed written permission if they have tried to get your permission and you did not respond.

Although the law requires that children with disabilities be re-evaluated at least every three years, your child may be re-evaluated more often if you or your child’s teacher(s) request it. However, reevaluations may not occur more than once a year, unless you and the school system agree that a re-evaluation is needed.

 

What is a 504 plan?

A “504 Plan” refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act which specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities including elementary, secondary, or post secondary schooling. 
A student who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities may need a written plan developed by a team that outlines necessary accommodations.

What is the process for resolving a parent and district dispute?

There are several options a parent and a district have when facing disagreement. These options may be either informal or formal dispute resolution. 
Informal dispute resolution includes options such as:
– Actively checking for common understanding of the issue

– Requesting an IEPT meeting

– Adjourning a meeting

– Requesting additional information

– Inviting others who have special knowledge/expertise

– Requesting an IEP facilitator 
Formal dispute resolution includes options such as:

– Mediation

– State Complaint

– Due Process Hearing Complaint

Court of competent jurisdiction 
For specific direction on how to access these options, refer to the Procedural Safeguards provided by your local district.

The Procedural Safeguards provided by your local district explains dispute resolution. Crucial to any process is maintaining open communication for student-centered outcomes.

What community resources are available for families who need modifications to their homes?

Modifications to homes, while important, do not fall within the responsibility of public education. Resources may be available through community agencies or social service organizations. For resources available in your area, consult your district parent handbook.

Can a student with an IEP be suspended or expelled?

Yes. Students with disabilities can be suspended or expelled as all students are responsible to follow the student code of conduct. Removals from school are considered a change in placement for students with IEPs when they exceed 10 school days. Ten school days occur in two ways: 10 consecutive school days or a total of 10 school days that constitute a pattern of removals. 
If the 10 days of suspension is considered to be a pattern of removals, a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR) must be conducted before exceeding the 10 days. In a MDR a team determines whether the behavior is a result of the student’s disability. This meeting is recorded on a form which directs the process. The outcome of an MDR is an IEP Team meeting. If the student’s behavior was not a result of a disability, the school’s code of conduct is applied. In the IEP Team meeting, the members determine what Special Education services will be provided while the student is suspended or expelled. 
The team may decide that the behavior was a manifestation of the student’s disability. If so, they will review and revise the IEP in response to identified student needs.

Special education technical terms and abbreviations frequently used at IEP meetings:

ADAPTED PHYSICAL EDUCATION (APE) A special education (remedial) program for students who require developmental or corrective instruction and who cannot participate in the activities of the general physical education program, a modified general physical education program or a specially designed physical education program in a special class.

ASSESSMENT The gathering of information about the student to determine his or her eligibility for special education and service needs. It may include tests, observations, interviews and review of school records or student work samples.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY Any item, piece of equipment, product, or system, whether acquired commercially ‘off the shelf’, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of students with disabilities.

AUTISM (AUT) A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before the age of three.

BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION Implementation of procedures for the elimination of maladaptive behaviors which are significantly interfering with the implementation of the student’s IEP. A systematic implementation of procedures, identified in the IEP, that results in lasting positive changes in the individual’s behavior. Acceptable interventions include positive behavioral support strategies that do not cause pain or trauma, and that which respect the student’s individual needs and dignity.

COMMUNITY BASED INSTRUCTION (CBI) Instruction in the skills needed to function in community settings. Instruction takes place both in the community and in the classroom.

DEAF-BLIND Students with both hearing and vision disabilities.

DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING (DHH or HOH) Students who have a measurable hearing loss, conductive or sensorineural, in either one or both ears, which limits the normal acquisition of speech and language through the ear. Students with a hearing impairment may require an aural/oral or total communication approach.

DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY An observed difference between a person’s development and behavior and the typical development and behavior expected of people of the same age.

EARLY EDUCATION A program to serve students between the ages of 3 and 5 with severe or non- severe disabilities in special education classrooms.

EMOTIONAL HANDICAP (EH) Students who exhibit one or more characteristics of a severe emotional disturbance as specified by law and whose condition has existed for a long period of time and to a marked degree. The condition must also adversely affect the student’s educational performance. A serious disturbance is to be distinguished from antisocial/socially maladjusted behavior which is not a special education disabling condition.

EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY) Special education services in excess of the regular academic year.

FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE) The federal provision for special education and related services for students at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge to a parent, student or guardian.

GOALS Broad or general statements which describe what needs to be learned by the student.

HARD OF HEARING (HOH) Impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, which adversely affects a student’s educational performance but which is not included under the definition of deafness.

INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) A written plan prepared at an IEP meeting that includes the student’s present level of educational performance, eligibility for special education, annual instructional goals and objectives, services to be provided, needed transition services, type of instructional setting and provisions for integration/mainstreaming in general education programs.

INDIVIDUAL TRANSITION PLAN (ITP) The ITP must be developed for students prior to age 14 and updated annually. It includes a statement of the transition service needs of the student, related to the IEP, that focuses on the student’s course of study (such as participation in advanced placement courses or vocational programs). Beginning at age 16 (or younger, if appropriate), the ITP provides a statement of needed transition services for the child, including a statement of the inter-agency responsibilities or any needed linkages, as appropriate.

INFORMAL ASSESSMENT Procedures such as classroom observation, interviews, portfolios of student work, or teacher-made tests which have not usually been used with large groups of students and which do not necessarily have a standard set of instructions for their use and interpretation.

LANGUAGE AND SPEECH SERVICES (LAS) A designated instruction and service (related service) for students who have articulation, voice, fluency or language disorders.

LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (LRE) A requirement in both state and federal laws that to the maximum extent appropriate, a student with a disability should be educated in the general education setting, including access to extracurricular activities, with non-disabled peers. Separate schooling and other removal from the general environment should occur only when the nature or severity of the disability prevents satisfactory education in general classes even with the use of supplementary aids and services.

LOW INCIDENCE DISABILITY (LI) A severe disabling condition with an expected incidence rate of less than one percent of the total statewide enrollment in kindergarten through grade twelve. Conditions include hearing, vision and severe orthopedic impairments or any combination.

COGNITIVE DISABILITY (CD) Students with significantly below-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior.

MULTIPLE DISABILITIES (MD) Students who have a combination of two or more specific disabilities.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY (OT) A designated instruction and service (related service), that provides assistance in improving or restoring functions lost or injured through illness, accident, or deprivation.

ORTHOPEDICALLY IMPAIRED (OI) Students with specific orthopedic or physical needs which adversely affect their educational participation or performance. This term includes but is not limited to: impairments caused by congenital anomaly (clubfoot, absence of limb, etc.); impairments caused by disease (poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.); and impairments from other causes (cerebral palsy, amputations and fractures or burns).

OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRED (OHI) Students may be considered other health impaired if they require special education services because of chronic or acute health conditions resulting in limited strength, vitality or alertness; due to chronic or acute health problems such as heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia or diabetes, which adversely affect their educational performance.

PARENT Includes the person(s) having legal custody such as natural parents, the custodial parent, legal guardian, or district-appointed surrogate parent of a student.

PHYSICALLY DISABLED (PD) Students with specific orthopedic or physical needs which adversely affect their educational participation or performance. This term includes but is not limited to: impairments caused by congenital anomaly (clubfoot, absence of limb, etc.); impairments caused by disease (poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.); and impairments from other causes (cerebral palsy, amputations and fractures or burns).

PHYSICAL THERAPY (PT) A designated instruction and service (related service), including services to provide treatment for posture stability, movement, positioning, gait training, etc.

POSITIVE BEHAVIOR SUPPORT Support that is specified in a behavior intervention plan that is developed by an IEP team to help a student with serious behavior problems change patterns of undesirable behavior/s that interfere with learning. These supports are respectful of a student’s dignity, and are successful in promoting a student’s capabilities and opportunities. The support includes a reliance on data obtained from a functional analysis assessment.

RE-EVALUATION A comprehensive assessment conducted every three years, or sooner if a parent or teacher requests, for each student receiving special education services.

REFERRAL FOR ASSESSMENT Any request for assessment, made by a parent, teacher or other service provider. Referrals for assessment should be in writing to avoid delay. Where an oral referral for assessment is made, school staff must offer assistance to the individual making the referral to put it in writing.

RELATED SERVICES Specific services which are required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education or general education. Includes transportation, speech-language pathology, audiological services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, social work services, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes only. The term includes school health services, social work services in schools and parent counseling and training.

SCHOOL OF ATTENDANCE Refers to the school a student is attending which may or may not be in his or her area of residence.

SCHOOL OF RESIDENCE Refers to the school a student attends or would attend because of the location of his or her residence in the school’s attendance area.

SHORT-TERM OBJECTIVE Included on the student’s IEP as a means of measuring progress toward a goal. It includes a series of intermediate steps or training activities that will take the student from his or her current level of functioning to the accomplishment of annual goals.

SPECIAL EDUCATION The term “special education” means specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability.

SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY (SLD) A specific learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. Eligibility for services requires that there is a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in one or more of the following academic areas: oral or written expression, listening or reading comprehension, basic reading skills, mathematics calculations and reasoning.

SURROGATE PARENT A person who is appointed by the District to act as a child’s “parent” in all matters related to special education. A surrogate is appointed when a child is a dependent or ward of the court, and the court has limited the rights of the parent/guardian to make educational decisions, or when a parent cannot be identified or located.

TRANSITION This term refers to the passage from one program, setting or environment to another. In special education, it may include, passage from elementary to middle school programs, movement from a special day class setting to a general education setting, graduation from a high school program into a work environment or other significant changes for a student.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) Traumatic brain injury is an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical event resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. It may include open or closed head injuries resulting in impairment in one or more areas such as cognition, speech, judgment, problem solving, perceptual and motor abilities, sensory, psychosocial behavior, physical functions and information processing.

VISUALLY IMPAIRED (VI) A visual impairment which, even with correction, adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sightedness and blindness.