Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is special education?
Special education is specially designed instruction to meet the needs of children and youth whose educational needs cannot be met with modifications of the regular instructional program.
2) What are the steps for referral to special education?
Steps to referral:
The referral is made.
The school district will review the referral.
If it is found that additional information is needed, the school district will request your written permission, and an assessment will be initiated. Nothing can happen without your permission.
Assessments will be conducted by the appropriate professionals, i.e., speech therapist, psychologist, special education teacher, etc., who will assess your child's strengths and weaknesses as stated in the referral.
When the assessment is completed, you will receive a phone call or a letter indicating the need to schedule an IEP meeting.
3) Who may make a referral?
Parents, teachers, doctors, community agencies, child study teams, or any concerned citizen may refer a child or youth for special education services by contacting the school or school district's office of Special Education.
4) What do I as a parent or guardian, need to do to help with the referral process?
When your child is first referred to special education, your opinions and concerns are needed. Your questions are important, necessary and welcomed. Please ask them. Communication between you, the parent, and those working with your child is very important. Please respond to any communication from those completing an assessment. Your input will help with a more well-rounded assessment.
5) What is the purpose of the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) meeting?
The purpose of the IEP Meeting is to give you an opportunity to share your concerns with those interested in your child's education. It also includes a description of your child’s present levels of functioning, annual educational goals, a discussion of direct service to your child, and any accommodations or modifications of their school day that may be needed.
6) What special education services and programs are available?
Special education includes any special education services or programs your child requires to be able to access their curriculum.
7) Who attends the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) team meeting?
Parents, a school administrator, teacher, and the individuals involved with your child's assessment, will be at the IEP meeting. You may wish to bring with you someone to assist you, interpret for you, or represent you.
8) Who is eligible for special education?
Children and youth between the ages of 0 years and 21 years (if not a high school graduate) who meet the state mandated requirements are eligible for special education.
9) We agree, now what?
When you and the educators agree upon your child's plan for services and programs, you will be asked to sign the IEP, thus giving your consent to begin special education. Once your child begins receiving special education services, you, as parents and guardians, will be kept informed of your child's progress. The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) will be reviewed annually or at your request or your child's teacher's request. No change will occur without your knowledge and approval.
10) Will my child always be in special education?
Districts re-assess students to determine eligibility for special education every three years. A triennial Individual Education Plan (IEP) team meeting will be held to review assessment results and participants will determine, with your input, whether your child remains eligible for special education.
11) What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan?
An IEP is an individual education plan that includes the accommodations/modifications and services for a student in Special Education and is developed based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A student must meet at least one of the 14 qualifying conditions to have an IEP. A 504 plan is based on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and is available to any public school student with a documented disability that "substantially limits" their ability to learn. These plans are also individualized and most often include accommodations and modifications so that students with health conditions are able to access the educational environment. Both plans require a minimum of one annual meeting.
12) My child has been diagnosed with a medical disability. Does this mean that they should be on an IEP?
If your child has been diagnosed by a physician, they may be eligible to receive services under an IEP. The team would conduct an assessment to determine if your child is eligible under an educational definition of a disability, as defined by the California Code of Regulations. Your doctor's diagnosis and report will be considered as part of that assessment. At the IEP meeting, you will meet with the assessment team and decide together if your child meets the educational definition of a disability and if they require special education services to access their education.