Special Education placement is made possible under IDEA law - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It ensures that no child, regardless of their disability, is denied an appropriate education.
A qualification for a special education placement means that your child will receive certain services as outlined in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Most often, a decision for the appropriateness of a special ed placement is determined at the completion of a Psycho-Educational Evaluation and with input from the school "team."
The "team" will consist of the parents, school psychologist, regular classroom teacher, special education teacher, principal, and possible other special ed staff like speech pathologist, and occupational or physical therapists.
The IEP will outline the disability, specify how services will be provided and by whom, and list any recommended accommodations.
It is a legal document, subject to review on a yearly basis. Depending on the child's eligibility and the programs available in your particular school district, there are several options for "placement." Placement should always be determined by considering what is the least restrictive environment for any particular child.
Placement could be...
- maintenance in the regular classroom with support from the resource teacher (the resource teacher is a special ed teacher)
- pull out for certain subject areas into the resource teacher's classroom
- supplying the student with a one-on-one instructional aide in the regular classroom
- placement in a self-contained special education classroom - these classrooms contain only children meeting the criteria for that particular classroom. There are numerous different kinds, depending on your state. You might find self contained LD (learning disabled), ED (emotionally disabled), twice exceptional (students who are both gifted and special ed - yes, you can be both), or cross categorical (being both LD and ED for example)classrooms.
A FEW RIGHTS YOU HAVE -
**A psycho-educational evaluation CANNOT be done without your permission. The exception would be if the school feels strongly enough to take you to due process and have an administrative panel decide if it is necessary.
**You must be given prior written notice of all meetings. However, if you fail to attend, the meeting can be conducted in your absence.
**You will be given copies of the final report generated from the evaluation.
**You do have the right to input on any suggested accommodations and the development of the IEP.
**If you disagree with the placement proposed by the school, you have the right to an advocate and/or due process. An advocate is someone trained in sped law that will attend meetings and help you navigate the process to make sure your rights and the rights of your child are protected. You can call your State Department of Education to find advocates in your area.
**In my experience, if you disagree and choose to place your child in a different school to avoid special ed placement, you will likely have to leave your current school district. Special ed recommendations remain in effect in any school within the same district.
With the children we are discussing, the most common categories for placement will be
SLD - Specific Learning Disability - Within this they might qualify for services in reading, writing, math, or any combination of the three.
ED - Emotional Disability (I think some states still call it Emotionally Disturbed) - This category would be the result of behavioral testing and or scales that have determined that a child's emotional state interferes with their learning.
OHI - Other Health Impaired - This is a category assigned after a medical diagnosis is established. This diagnosed condition must interfere with the child's learning and leave cause for modification in their school environment.
There are also services that can be provided for speech impairments, occupational therapy needs and physical therapy needs.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THROUGHOUT THIS PROCESS, YOU AND YOUR CHILD HAVE RIGHTS. IF YOU EVER GET CONFUSED OR FEEL LIKE THOSE RIGHTS MIGHT BE IN VIOLATION, YOU CAN STOP THE PROCESS AND SEEK ADVOCACY SUPPORT BEFORE YOU CONTINUE.
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