FAQs About Special Education

Questions & Answers About Special Education

  1. What programs and services are provided through special education?
  2. How do you get help when a disability is suspected?
  3. What education must be provided for the individual with exceptional needs?
  4. What is involved in the evaluation/assessment process?
  5. Is every individual who is evaluated placed in a special education program?
  6. What is an IEP?
  7. Who participates in developing the IEP?
  8. What rights do the parents/guardians have in the decisions that are made about the student?
  9. Where and how will the educational services be provided?
  10. How can parents participate in the review and/or development of special education programs?
  11. What is a SELPA?

What programs and services are provided through special education?

Special education support services may be provided in the general education classroom or in a separate class and may include related services. Related services include: speech and language therapy, audiology, adapted physical education, physical and occupational therapy, school-based counseling services, specially designed vocational education, and other services which may be identified by the IEP team as necessary for the student to benefit educationally from his or her instructional program.

How do you get help when a disability is suspected?

Contact your local education agency (LEA) by mail or telephone. A student study team meeting or LEA meeting will be scheduled to discuss your student's educational needs and any concerns the parent may have.

What education must be provided for the individual with special needs?

Federal and state laws require that all students be provided with an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

What is involved in the evaluation/assessment process?

Assessment are conducted in the areas of suspected disabilities. Qualified professionals observe, interview, and use testing resources appropriate for each student. Parental approval is required prior to the assessment, and parents will be provided a copy of the assessment results.

Is every individual who is evaluated placed in a special education program?

Individuals identified as having educational needs are provided with special education services only after the IEP team has determined eligibility, and parental consent for special education services has been obtained.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is an "Individualized Education Program." It is a written document which establishes the following for the individual's educational needs: present levels of performance, annual goals, placement and support services needed to implement program goals, individuals responsible for support services, supplementary aids and supports, including physical education as appropriate. For students 16 years of age and older, the IEP also contains transition goals and services.

Who participates in developing the IEP?

The IEP team is comprised of special and general education teachers, LEA representative, related services providers, and parents. The team meets to determine the program based on the needs of the student. The student will also be invited to attend, if appropriate. In particular, a student 16 years of age and older must be invited to participate in their IEP team meetings whenever transition services will be discussed.

What rights do the parents/guardians have in the decisions that are made about the student?

The parents/guardians have the right to participate in the decisions made by the IEP team and to give informed written consent before the IEP is implemented. Once a student reaches the age of majority (18), the rights accorded to the parents transfer to the student.

Where and how will the educational services be provided?

It is the policy of the Desert/Mountain SELPA and the Desert/Mountain Charter SELPA that, to the maximum extent possible, students with special needs will be educated with students who do not have special needs. Special schools and classes are available within the Desert/Mountain SELPA and the Desert/Mountain Charter SELPA in the event that it is not possible to provide specialized educational services at the student's school or local education agency of residence. The location of services is determined at the IEP team meeting.

How can parents participate in the review and/or development of special education programs?

The Desert/Mountain SELPA and the Desert/Mountain Charter SELPA Community Advisory Committee (CAC) is comprised of parents, students, teachers, paraeducators, education specialists, agencies, and individuals with special needs who are working toward the most appropriate education for individuals with special needs. CAC meetings are held four times per school year. For more information on CAC, please visit the Desert/Mountain SELPA website at www.cahelp.org.

What is a SELPA?

The acronym SELPA refers to the Special Education Local Plan Area. SELPAs are dedicated to the belief that all students can learn and that students with special needs must be guaranteed equal opportunity to become contributing members of society. SELPAs facilitate high quality educational programs and services for students with special needs and training for parents and educators. SELPAs collaborate with county agencies and LEAs to develop and maintain safe and enriching environments in which students with special needs and families can succeed.

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