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Qualifying for Special Education Services

Under Federal Law, all students have the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). If a student is determined to have a disability that impedes this right, s/he must be provided with special education services that ensure s/he receives the same education as typical needs students.   Special education services for District 63 students are coordinated through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). To determine whether or not a student qualifies for an IEP, the District carries out a thorough assessment and evaluation process:  

  • First, a student must be suspected of having or known to have a disability that affects his/her ability to receive a FAPE. Such students come to our attention in various ways:  through Child Find -- a process through which parents ask for an evaluation -- or through a referral by the school or other individual. Often, a student is referred through the District's Response to Intervention (RTI), a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavioral needs. 
  • Not all students suspected of having a disability are referred for further evaluation. However, for those who are, a team of District professionals and parents/guardians assess a student's ability to learn in the educational environment.
  • The team may or may not determine that the student needs special education services. Again, the key factor is whether a disability affects the student's ability to learn. 
  • Once eligibility is established, the student may receive services with the consent of the family. Goals and progress are tracked through an IEP.
  • District professionals meet annually with the family to review the qualifying student's progress. The District must assess and re-evaluate the student's eligibility for services every three years.

Students who do not qualify for an IEP under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act may qualify for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 if the child 1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, 2) has a record of physical or mental impairment or 3) is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment.

All children with disabilities have the right to a free, appropriate public education. If you have concerns about your child and believe that he/she has a disability that may require Section 504 Plan accommodations or special education services, please contact your child's principal to begin the referral process.