Going Back to School with a Disability
The new school year is right around the corner. As students are frantically trying to complete their summer reading assignments, parents are budgeting for school supplies for the academic year. One thing that isn’t highlighted too often, however, is parents enrolling their children in the special needs program at school. How does this process work? Let’s take a look:
What Does Special Education Offer?
First, we must examine what a special needs program is and what it offers. A special needs program is not entirely separate from the regular education program at the school. Instead, it is a part of the education system as a whole, with the aim of meeting the educational requirements of all students. The program administrators look to fulfill the needs of the students, and place them in the appropriate classroom settings to do so. These students receive education in a setting that works for them, and get individual attention as needed to ensure they are learning effectively.
The Enrollment Process
For parents of children with disabilities, it’s worth knowing the steps involved in enrolling your child in a special education program:
- Identify child as needing special education or related services by 1 of 2 ways:
- Child Find – The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that all states identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities so they can receive the proper education. Child Find can identify a child with disabilities, or a parent can contact the Child Find office to request an evaluation. For more information about Child Find, click the link here.
- Referral or Request – A teacher can request that a child with disabilities be evaluated, or a parent may write to the child’s teacher to request an evaluation.It is worth noting that consent from the parent is required to perform an evaluation. Under federal law, there is a 60-day window to complete the evaluation after consent, although this may vary by a state’s IDEA regulations.
The following list outlines the steps in enrolling your child in special education:
- Evaluation – There are three main questions to be answered in the evaluation:
- Does the child have a disability that requires special education or related services?
- What are the child’s specific emotional needs?
- What special education and/or related services are appropriate to fulfill said needs?
- Deciding on Eligibility – Both the parents and a team of qualified professionals to meet to examine the results of the child’s evaluation. Both parties decide together whether the child is a “child with a disability” according to IDEA.
- Eligibility Confirmed – Once a child is deemed eligible for special needs education, a group of school professionals and the parents have 30 days to devise an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the child.
- Schedule & Conduct the IEP Meeting
- Implementation – After the meeting, specific educational services are implemented for the child.
- Progress Report – As with a regular education program, progress reports are sent to the parents throughout the school year to inform them of how the program is working and how their child is performing.
- Review IEP – The IEP team will review the IEP at least once a year or at the request of the parents or other school professionals. In this step, revisions may be made to better enhance the learning abilities of the student.
- Reevaluation – A child with disabilities should be reevaluated at least every three years so as to determine if s/he is still defined as having a disability in accordance with IDEA.
At ILCNSCA, we understand that enrolling your child with a disability in a special needs program can seem like a process. However, we can help you navigate this process effectively so you’re not alone in doing so. Contact ILCNSCA by phone at 978-741-0077, or visit our website at https://ilcnsca.org/.
This post was written by Sperling