The Special Education Process
What is Special Education?
Special education means specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services or programs to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. Special education services and programs are provided at no cost to the parent.
What are the steps in the Special Education Process?
Step 1: Initial Referral for Special Education Services
Students suspected of having a disability are referred to a multidisciplinary team called the Committee on Special Education or the Committee on Preschool Special Education.
Step 2: Individual Evaluation Process
The Committee arranges for an evaluation of the student’s abilities and needs.
Step 3: Determining Eligibility for Special Education Services
Based on evaluation results, the Committee decides if the student is eligible to receive special education services and programs.
Step 4: Individualized Education Program (IEP)
If the child is eligible to receive special education services, the Committee develops and implements an appropriate IEP, based on evaluation results, to meet the needs of the student. Based on the IEP, the Committee must determine the student's placement, ensuring that services are provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Placement must be as close as possible to the student's home, and unless the student's IEP requires some other arrangement, the student must be educated in the school he or she would have attended if not disabled. For more information see least restrictive environment.
Step 5: Annual Review/Reevaluation
The IEP is reviewed and, if needed, modified or revised by the Committee at least once a year (annual review). The student has a reevaluation at least once every three years, to review the student’s need for special education programs and services and to revise the IEP, as appropriate. A reevaluation may also occur when conditions warrant or when requested by a parent or teacher.
The process occurs sequentially with each step building on the previous one. In this way, comprehensive information about the student is obtained and considered. Timelines are in place so that delays are avoided. Parents are an integral part of this process, and your involvement is encouraged