Understanding Special Education

Special Education Referral Process

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 invited to participate as a team member.

* Click on the headings to watch a video about the process. 

When parents or school staff suspects a child may have a disability, a referral is made to the school based Intervention Team also know as Student Support Team (SST). 

A multi-disciplinary committee evaluates the student in the areas requested by the school based Intervention team.  It provides information about the student’s educational needs and will also include information provided from the parents.

Based on the results of the evaluation, a team decides if your child is eligible to receive special education and related services. In order 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 and requires specially designed instruction.  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.  If the student is not found eligible, then he/she may qualify under Section 504.

If your child is eligible to receive special education, a team develops an appropriate IEP to meet the needs of your child. The IEP is reviewed at least annually to or when the student is not making expected progress. At least every three years, the team will determine if your child should be reevaluated and if your child continues to need special education and related services. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes the educational program that has been designed to meet that child’s unique needs.  Each child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP.  The IEP is developed in and IEP meeting 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, including transition services.

At least once a year, the IEP team meets to review/revise the student’s IEP.

At least every three years, a student’s eligibility is reviewed which may, or may not, involve new evaluations.

Special education staff provide services across a continuum of service options that range from the least restrictive to the most restrictive.  Students receive services based on their unique and individual needs. Related services means developmental, corrective or supportive services required for a child with a disability to benefit from special education.

  • assistive technology, 
  • occupational therapy,
  • physical therapy,
  • psychological services,
  • social work services,
  • speech-language therapy,
  • vision services,
  • hearing services, and
  • transportation.