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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is special education?
Special Education is defined as: “Specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” Special Education is a place to provide additional services, support, programs, specialized placements or environments to ensure that all students’ educational needs are met.
What are the 13 disability categories?
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Blind-Visually Impaired
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Developmental Cognitive Disability
- Developmental Delay
- Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
- Other Health Disabilities
- Physically Impaired
- Severely Multiply Impaired
- Specific Learning Disabilities
- Speech or Language Impairments
- Traumatic Brain Injury
What is the process for identification and referral?
The Special Education process begins with identifying learners, age birth to 21, who are eligible for special services and in need of specialized instruction.
How do I refer my child?
Parents, teachers, physicians or any concerned person can refer a child for potential special education services.
Birth through Age 2:
Referrals for infants and toddlers can be made by calling Help Me Grow Facilitator: Sally Wulf at 952-491-8030.
Ages 3 thru 6:
Referrals for preschool children ages 3 thru 6 may be made by contacting the Special Services Office: Sally Wulf at 952-491-8030.
Referrals for students who are already in school may be made by contacting your child’s teacher or guidance counselor. Once a referral is received the student concerns team will determine how to proceed. Options available to the team in attempting to resolve the reported academic or behavior problem include:
- Developing and implementing interventions within the general education setting that are designed to target the identified problem.
- Referral to the Section 504 team to determine if the student is eligible for and needs an accommodation plan.
- Conducting a comprehensive evaluation to determine if the child is eligible for and needs special education instruction. If an evaluation is warranted, parents will be asked for their written permission to assess their child before any testing occurs.
What must occur prior to a special education evaluation?
To assure that students are given ample opportunity to succeed within the general education program, Minnesota Statute 125A.56 requires that schools implement and document at least two “instructional strategies, alternatives or interventions” within the general education classroom prior to referring a child for special education evaluation. This stage is called the ‘pre-referral process.’ In many instances, the child’s needs can be met by changing instructional strategies or through other interventions within the general classroom.
The duration of the pre-referral interventions are based on the individual child’s needs. The interventions must be of sufficient duration to allow the child to succeed from the new instructional strategies and/or interventions. However, the pre-referral process must not be used to unduly delay a special education evaluation if it becomes apparent the interventions are not successful.
What does an evaluation look like?
For an initial evaluation, the district will conduct the evaluation after written consent is obtained from the parents. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine if the child is eligible for and needs special education services, and if so, to identify the special education needs that will be the focus of the specialized instruction.
Districts have forty-five (45) calendar days from the referral date to complete the evaluation of a child age birth to three, and thirty (30) school days from the date written permission is received to complete the evaluation for students age three and above.
- An evaluation is recommended when your child’s academic team of teachers feels that your child may have issues at school that are interfering with his or her ability to learn.
- The purpose of the evaluation is to determine if the student qualifies for special education.
- The evaluation should examine all areas of suspected disability and provide a detailed description of your child's current educational performance and needs.
- This evaluation may include formal tests, informal observations, and evaluations. Evaluations may also include review of the student’s educational and medical history. The evaluation team will include, but are not limited to, the general education teacher, a special education teacher, the school nurse, the school psychologist, a speech/language pathologist, an adapted physical education teacher, occupational therapist, and physical therapist.
- If the child qualifies for special education services, the results from the evaluation will be used as a guide to develop your child’s educational program (IEP).
- If you disagree with any part of the evaluation, you need to resolve the issues before proceeding to the next step.
Some questions you may want to ask the school staff:
- Why do you want to do an evaluation?
- What kind of information will we find out from the evaluation?
- What kind of testing will be done?
- What areas will be tested?
- What will happen if I say no?
- Will I get a copy of the evaluation results?
- What if I would like a specific test?
- What do I do if I disagree with the results?
After the evaluation:
After the evaluation, the IEP manager assigned to your child will contact you. This person will coordinate a date and time for you to come in to discuss the results of your child's evaluation. This team includes the parent(s), members of the evaluation team along and at least one classroom teacher. The student may attend this meeting. The student’s participation is determined on an individual basis and is up to parents. It is beneficial for students in middle school and high school to attend as his/her input can be very valuable. The results will be summarized in an Evaluation Report. A draft of the report may be given to you at the meeting. Upon your request, it may be possible to get the report before the meeting. You will be able to have input into the final report.
What is an Individualized Education Plan?
- A written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs.
- Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP.
- Sets reasonable learning goals for a child.
- State the services that the school district will provide for the child.
- The IEP is developed jointly by the school system, the parents of the child, and the student (when appropriate).
- The IEP must be reviewed at least annually thereafter to determine whether the annual goals are being achieved and must be revised as appropriate.
What is Early Childhood Special Education?
Early Childhood Special Education provides early intervention to young children, age birth to 6, who meet the criteria for any one of the thirteen special education disability categories or show developmental delay in the general areas of speech and language, large and fine motor skills, social and emotional behavior, cognitive and/or adaptive skills, or have vision or hearing losses.
Help Me Grow – Programs for Infants and Toddlers (birth to age 3):
Help Me Grow is a collaborative effort among the Public Schools, the Department Human Services and the Department of Public Health. These agencies work together to address the needs of young children with disabilities and their families in the areas of education, health and social services. Quality early intervention services are of primary importance in assuring young children with disabilities are prepared for successful school and life experiences.
Early Childhood Special Education (ages 3 thru 6):
Children with disabilities, ages three through six-years, are eligible for special education services through the schools. For those children who qualify, services are usually provided within a school setting, although some children may be served within their home or other environments if that best meets their needs.
A child who receives Early Childhood Special Education under the Developmental Delay criteria is re-evaluated prior to turning seven years of age. To continue to receive special education services beyond their seventh birthday, they must qualify for one of the thirteen special education disability categories.
What is Extended School Year Services (ESY)?
At the annual IEP meeting,the IEP team must determine if an individual is in need of ESY services. The individual must meet one of the following criteria.
- There will be significant regression of a skill or acquired knowledge from the student's level of performance on an annual goal that requires more than the length of the break in instruction to recoup unless the IEP team determines a shorter time for recoupment is more appropriate
- Services are necessary for the pupil to attain and maintain self-sufficiency because of the critical nature of the skill addressed by an annual goal, the student's age and level of development, and the timeliness for teaching the skill
- The IEP team otherwise determines, given the student's unique needs, that ESY services are necessary to ensure the student receives a free appropriate public education
What does significant mean?
Regression/recoupment is significant when the recoupment period is longer than the length of the break in instruction. For example, to be considered significant, the time needed to recoup/relearn a skill in the fall would need to be greater than three months – the length of the summer break.
What is self-sufficiency?
Those functional skills necessary for a student to achieve a reasonable degree of personal independence as identified in the annual IEP goals for a student requiring a functional curriculum. Self-sufficiency goals include such areas as: toileting, eating, dressing, muscular control, personal mobility, impulse control, maintaining stable relationships with peers and adults, basic communication skills and functional academic competency.
What are Secondary Transition Services?
Secondary Transition Planning is the process of preparing students for life after high school and includes planning for postsecondary education or training, employment, and independent living.
By grade nine or age 14, whichever comes first, the IEP plan shall address the pupil's needs for transition from secondary services to postsecondary education and training, employment, and community living.
- For each pupil, the district shall conduct an evaluation of secondary transition needs and plan appropriate services to meet the pupil's transition needs. The areas of evaluation and planning must be relevant to the pupil's needs and may include work, recreation and leisure, home living, community participation, and postsecondary training and learning opportunities.
- Secondary transition evaluation results must be documented as part of an evaluation report. Current and secondary transition needs, goals, and instructional and related services to meet the pupil's secondary transition needs must be considered by the team with annual needs, goals, objectives, and services documented on the pupil's IEP.
What rights do parents have?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 requires procedural safeguards that school districts must follow to protect the rights of parents and children. The procedural safeguards are given to parents once a year.
How is a child dismissed from special education services?
Students are no longer eligible to receive special education services when:
- The IEP Team, following a comprehensive evaluation, determines the student is no longer eligible for or no longer needs specialized instruction.
- The student graduates, having successfully completed the graduation requirements or goals on the IEP.
- The student, who has not received a high school diploma, turns 21 prior to July 1st (a student who turns 21 on or after July 1st, remains eligible to receive special education services until the end of that school year).
- The parent, or adult student, withdraws consent for special education.
What is third-party billing?
Minnesota law requires that school districts seek reimbursement from private and public health insurers for the cost of health-related services provided to students who receive special education services. If your child receives health-related services as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individual Family Services Plan (IFSP), a member of your child’s team may ask your permission to share information with your insurer and/or physician in order to bill for these services.
Health-related services are developmental, corrective and supportive services that are required for a student to benefit from their program of specialized instruction. Health-related services include supports such as:
- Diagnosis, evaluation and assessment;
- Speech, physical and occupational therapies;
- Paraprofessional/personal care assistant (PCA) services;
- Mental health services;
- Transportation; and
- Health services such as nursing.