Special Education Services

Teacher working one on one with young studentOften times a student with learning disabilities who attends a public school will need Special Education. This section will help guide you to specific information related to navigating the special education process. Negotiating the special education process can be overwhelming. Where to start, who to talk to, and the options for special education evaluation as well as the vocabulary of special education including IEPs and 504s can be found here.

Protecting Students with Disabilities: FAQs about Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities

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What is Section 504? Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .” The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide… Read More »

The Role of Parents/Family in Response to Intervention

Parents assisting son with homework

IDEA 04 offers states and localities the option of using “a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation process…,” but it does not require that states or districts use Responsiveness-to-Intervention, often shortened to RTI. Although RTI is similar to the old pre-referral or problem-solving model first suggested by Dr. James Chalfant in the mid-70′s as Teacher Assistance Teams (TAT), parents have begun to hear a lot about RTI as a “new” way to help students with learning disabilities. What is RTI? Although there is no single RTI model, the many variations… Read More »

Supreme Court Rules Parents Have Rights, Too

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On Monday, May 21, 2007, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling of significance to parents. The case is Winkelman v. Parma School District, U.S.S.C. Docket No. 05-983 (May 21, 2007). These are the facts. Jacob Winkelman is a six-year old child with autism spectrum disorder. Both the parents and the school district agreed that he is covered by the IDEA. The parents participated in the process of formulating the IEP and, when, in the parents’ view, the school district failed to provide Jacob with the free appropriate public education mandated by IDEA, the parents sought a due process… Read More »

Parents’ Right to Request Evaluation for Special Education Services at Any Time

Oarents and their son meeting with a school official

Parents who are aware their child is having a difficult time with reading, mathematics, written expression or other aspects of school work might suspect that the child has a learning disability (LD), also known as specific learning disabilities (SLD), and may be in need of special education services. As a parent, guardian or advocate, you have a legal right to request that your public school evaluate your child for special education.  Read LDA’s Position Paper on Right to an Evaluation of a Child for Special Education Services to learn more about this important legal right and the first step towards helping your… Read More »

First Steps for Parents When School Problems Are Observed

Mother and son sitting together on their couch

If a student is having unusual difficulty in school the parent should discuss the situation with the teacher and other school personnel. Most schools have a problem-solving team which works with families in reviewing and solving problems that affect school performance before beginning a formal process of referral for special education and related services as described in IDEA. Problem-solving activities or strategies used by the regular education teacher to address the child’s difficulty may consist of changes in the physical environment, changes in instructional approaches, short-term remedial activities, peer tutoring, or behavioral management plans. Learn more about who serves on… Read More »

Evaluating Children to Determine Eligibility for Special Education Services and Reevaluation Requirements

Educational professional evaluating a student

Evaluating children to determine eligibility for special education services is an issue with which many parents and educators struggle. There are many factors to consider during a comprehensive evaluation of a child for possible eligibility for special education services. It’s important that parent(s) know their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), understand the process, and ensure their child receives the appropriate services. School districts need to provide parents their procedural safeguards (rights) guaranteed under IDEA before a full and individual initial evaluation takes place. When a child receives special education services for an extended period of time,… Read More »

IEPs and School Transfers

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IDEA provides guidelines for a child with a disability transferring to another school in or out of district within the same state or out of state. The guidelines are specific as to the child’s right to have a free appropriate public education with services that are comparable to those in the previous IEP. It is important that the parents get copies of school records for their files, check with the new and existing schools to be sure the transfer request is made, make sure all records related to special or related services are included, and follow up with both schools… Read More »

Back to School: Working with Teachers and Schools – Helping Your Child Succeed in School

Teacher meeting with student and her parent

Starting school each fall is a challenge for the student and parents. The following article has been adapted from the US Department of Education website and offers some valuable suggestions as your child starts a new school year, regardless of whether the child is entering kindergarten, junior high, high school or any grade in between. Many teachers say that they don’t often receive information from parents about problems at home. Many parents say that they don’t know what the school expects from their children or from them. Sharing information and communicating is essential. Both teachers and parents are responsible for… Read More »

Eligibility: Determining Whether a Child is Eligible for Special Education Services

Small group of professionals performing an evaluation

When is a child’s eligibility for special education and related services determined? In most states the eligibility of a child for special education and related services is considered when a child has arrived at the Tier 3 level of RTI (Response to Intervention). When a child has been in Tier 2 for a pre-determined amount of time and an evaluation is given, then a meeting is called to determine eligibility for special education services. Who makes the decision about whether a child is eligible for special education and related services? The parent of the child and a team of qualified… Read More »