Special Education Services » Overview


Recognition on the part of a parent, a teacher, or another person that a child may have special learning needs.

Informing a school or agency that a student may have special learning needs. A parent, teacher, or other appropriate staff member may refer a student. To refer a child, request a Special Education referral form from the school, complete it, and return it to the school with any supporting documentation, e.g., outside evaluations that you may have. Children do not have to be in public school to be referred. The school staff must consider whether to evaluate within 25 school days.

The process of collecting and analyzing information and assessments such as psychological, medical, sociocultural, educational, and other appropriate information about a child, which are used to determine if the student has a condition which may have an impact on him or her educationally. Evaluation must be completed within 35 school days from parent’s written consent to evaluate.

The process by which a committee of professional staff members and the parents consider the individual needs of a student and determine whether the student is eligible for special education and related services. Eligibility committees meet at the child’s school. If the student is found eligible for special education services, parents and school staff members meet within 30 calendar days to develop an individualized education program (IEP).

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The procedure by which parents and school staff members develop a written plan called the Individualized Education Program (IEP) describing a student’s special learning needs and the special education services to be provided to meet those needs. The IEP team consists of parents; the student as appropriate; the student’s teacher; a general education teacher if the student participates or may participate in general education classes; a representative of the school district who is qualified to provide or supervise special education services; and others as requested. IDEA requires that an IEP contain the following:
  • A description of the student’s present level of educational performance, as well as any concerns of the parents.
  • A statement of annual goals, which may also include short-term instructional objectives.
  • A statement of the specific special education services to be provided to the student.
  • A statement concerning the extent to which the student will participate in general education activities.
  • The date when special services will begin and how long the services will last.
  • Information about how and when the student’s progress toward IEP goals will be evaluated.
  • A list of needed curriculum, testing, and classroom accommodations and modifications.
  • A statement concerning the extent to which a student will participate in the district-wide and statewide assessment programs and accommodations that a student will need during testing. If the student will not participate in the assessments, the IEP must indicate how the student will be assessed.
  • Parent signature required for services to begin, but is not required for continued services.
  • A statement of needed transition services for 16 years of age or older.
Annual Review
A scheduled meeting of school staff members and parents to develop, review, and revise the IEP of a student receiving special education services.

A review to decide if additional and/or updated information is needed to determine individual needs and continued eligibility for special education and related services. A reevaluation is required every three years or more frequently if conditions warrant or upon request by the parent(s).