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Special Education Process

Special education refers to free and appropriate specialized instruction designed to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities.  Before a student may be offered special education services, the student must be evaluated by a team of specialists and found eligible.  This initial evaluation may be requested by a parent, member of the school system or any concerned community member knowledgeable of the child.  Evaluation may not begin until written permission has been received from the parent/guardian of the child being evaluated.  The evaluations are designed to gather formal assessment data to enable a team to assess whether a student meets the criteria for at least one of the special education disability categories.  Moreover, special education services must be necessary for the student to benefit from his/her education experience. 

In order to benefit from special education services, some students require the additional support of “related services”.  Examples of related services are:  special transportation, psychological services, physical/occupational therapy, adaptive P.E. and speech/language therapy.  By law, special education and any necessary related services must be provided to eligible students from the ages of 2 through 21.

In order to guarantee that the needs of eligible students are addressed and that special education services are not rendered to those whose needs could be met in a general education curriculum without support, the special education process is organized following a set of federally defined operational procedures:  screening, child find, child study, assessment, eligibility, IEP development and implementation, and periodic review.  The following provides a brief outline of the process. 

First page of the PDF file: IEP-Process-Flowchart