The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees a free, appropriate public education to all eligible children with disabilities.
Special education means specially designed instruction to meet the unique educational needs of a child with a disability. It includes instruction; accommodations/modifications; supports; and related services needed as determined by the child’s individualized education program team. The parent is a necessary component and is always invited to participate as a team member. The steps in the special education process include:
For more information, you may want to look at the VDOE document, “A Parent’s Guide to Special Education”.
When parents or school staff notice that a student might need special help, they should give that information to the school system. A team will gather information and decide if an evaluation is needed. Information given by the parents is very important. Anyone who has a vested interest in the child's education can refer the student to the Child Study Team.
An evaluation is a careful look by a team of teachers and specialists at a student’s abilities, strengths, and areas of need. It provides information about the student’s educational needs and will also include information provided from the parents. Information given by the parent is very important.
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes the educational plan that has been designed to meet the child’s unique needs. Each child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP. The IEP is developed with a group of individuals such as teachers, parents/guardians, administrators, related services personnel, and student (when appropriate) who work collaboratively to create a plan that provides meaningful benefit for the student with a disability.
At least once a year, the IEP team meets to review/revise the student’s IEP.
Special education services include a variety of options that allow the student to access the general curriculum. Teachers provide special education services across a continuum of service options that range from the least restrictive to the most restrictive. Students receive services determined by their specific needs. Services include general education with consultative support, general education with collaborative support from special education teacher, self-contained classes in a separate location, separate special education school or homebound instruction.
Related services mean developmental, corrective or supportive services required for a child with a disability to benefit from special education, including:
At least every three years, a student’s eligibility is reviewed which may, or may not, involve new evaluations. This meeting determines a student's continued need for special education services.
In order for a student to receive special education services, the student must meet the criteria of one or more of the thirteen disability categories which adversely affects educational performance. At the eligibility meeting, a team of qualified professionals and the parents of the student make a decision as to whether or not a student meets the requirements to receive special education services. If the student is found eligible, then an IEP will be developed and special education services will begin.