What Is Special Education?
Special education is governed by federal law in most educational jurisdictions. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Special Education is defined as:
"Specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability." In order to fully meet the definition (and eligibility for special education and related services) as a "child with a disability," a child's educational performance must be adversely affected due to the specific physical, social/emotional or learning disability.
Special education is in place to provide additional services, support, programs, specialized placements or environments to ensure that all students' educational needs are provided for. Special education is provided to qualifying students at no cost to the parents. There are many students who have special learning needs and these needs are addressed through special education. The range of special education support will vary based on need and educational jurisdictions.
Each country, state or educational jurisdiction will have different policies, rules, regulations and legislation that governs what special education is. In the US, the governing law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Typically, the types of exceptionalities/disabilities will be clearly identified in the jurisdiction's law surrounding special education. Students qualifying for special education support have needs that will often require support that goes beyond what is normally offered or received in the regular school/classroom setting.
A child suspected of needing special education support will usually be referred to the special education committee at the school. Parents, teachers or both can make referrals for special education. Parents should have any necessary information/documentation from community professionals, doctors; external agencies etc. and inform the school of the child's disabilities if they are known prior to attending school. The child who is being considered for special education services will often receive assessment(s), evaluations or psychological testing (again this depends on the educational jurisdiction) to determine if they qualify to receive special education programming/supports. However, prior to conducting any type of assessment/testing, the parent will need to sign consent forms.
Once the child qualifies for additional support, an Individual Education Plan/Program (IEP) is then developed for the child. IEPs will include goals, objectives, activities and any additional supports needed to ensure the child reaches his/her maximum educational potential.
Should you have any questions regarding your child's special education program or related services please feel free to contact the Office of Pupil Personnel Services at (631) 274-4040 to speak with:
- Mr. James Cummings, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel Services
- Mr. Brian Norton, District Administrator of Secondary Special Education
- Mr. David Renahan, District Administrator of Secondary Special Education
- Ms. Mary Reynolds, District Administrator of Human Resources & Pupil Personnel