The federal government, through legislation entitled Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states that a child with a disability is defined as a school age child who has been evaluated and determined to have one of the following disabilities that adversely affects the child's educational performance and who therefore needs special education and related services.
The disabilities include: a cognitive disability (mental retardation), a hearing impairment including deafness, a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment including blindness, an emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, autism, a traumatic brain injury, another health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities.
The law also requires public schools to provide services to preschool age students (ages 3-5) with disabilities if they are at least three years of age and not age six, have a disability demonstrated by a documented deficit in one or more areas of development, which has an adverse effect upon normal development and functioning.
A multi-factored evaluation team (MFE) will make the final disability determination. If a student is identified as a student with a disability, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be written by the IEP team. Team members include parents, teachers, administrators and other identified service providers. The IEP will document the student's needs and provide goals and objectives to address those needs. The IEP will also determine the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) where services to meet the goals and objectives will be provided.
WHERE ARE SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES PROVIDED?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states to establish procedures to assure, "that to the maximum extent appropriate," children with disabilities are educated with children who are nondisabled. Removal of handicapped children from the regular educational environment is permitted only when the nature or severity of the handicap is such that education in the regular class, with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. This statutory standard is the starting point for any school district attempting to meet the education needs of students with disabilities.
A. Regular Education Classes with Collaboration / Consultation Services – Collaboration / consultation services focus on special educators and general educators working together to best meet the needs of exceptional children as well as children who may be "at risk". Each building operates an Intervention Assistance Team (IAT) to promote cooperative teacher planning in order to individualize learning experiences and to effectively integrate resources, which would positively impact the child's educational program.
B. Individual/Small Group - The Individual/Small Group Instruction program services students who are enrolled in the regular classroom in one or more academic areas, to help increase their benefit from regular class placement. This is supplemental instruction (no grade is given) which focuses on helping students become independent in the "process" of learning through the use of compensatory strategies, intervention support, and study/organizational techniques.
C. Learning Center - The Learning Center serves children whose disability requires a special education program on a part-time or full time basis. Participation in the child's regular education activities is encouraged. The Learning Center provides a modified regular education curriculum that is not offered in regular education classrooms.
D. Special Class - The Special Class serves students who are academically unable to participate in the regular education classroom for a variety of reasons. The curriculum used in these classes is based solely on the needs of the students. In many cases the students are provided a functional, alternate curriculum that meets their individual needs. However, in some instances, students may be provided a modified regular education curriculum.
E. Separate Facility - A Separate Facility is a school that is designed specifically for students with disabilities.
F. Home Instruction - Home instruction is an individualized education program provided to a child with a disability, which prevents the child from attending a regular or special program even with the aid of special transportation.
G. Institutions and Hospitals - Some children with disabilities are so ill that they are confined to hospitals or institutions for long periods of time. In these cases, instruction is provided to those individuals in that setting.