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  • What is special education?
    • Special education programs in Connecticut are governed by both federal and state law, but in no circumstances may state provisions limit the protections offered under federal law
    • Under both federal and state law, school districts must provide each disabled student with a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE).
    • In Connecticut, parents work with educators and specialists to determine the needs of the children and design an appropriate program, called an Individualized Educational Program, or IEP.
  • Who is eligible for special education?
    • Children with a qualifying disability, who have not graduated from high school between ages 3 and 21, in need of special education are eligible for special education services.
    • Parents, along with a team of qualified professionals, will determine whether the child requires special education. C.G.S. Sec. 10-76ff.
    • Eligible disabilities include:
      • mental retardation;
      • hearing impairments (including deafness);
      • speech or language impairments;
      • visual impairments (including blindness);
      • emotional disturbance;
      • orthopedic impairment;
      • physical impairment;
      • autism;
      • traumatic brain injury;
      • other health impairments (limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute
        health problems such as lead poisoning, asthma, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, a
        heart condition, hemophilia, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia,
        and Tourette syndrome);
      • specific learning disabilities; and
      • developmental delay (including 3-5 year olds)

    20 USC § 1401, 34 CFR 300.8, 10 CGS 164.10-76(a-h), (C.A.R.) Sec.. 10-76a-1.

    • Preschool children who are developmentally delayed may qualify for early childhood services. C.A.R. Sec. 10-76d-14(a).
      • To determine whether a child qualifies for such services, the parent must make a written referral to director of special education in their local school district.
      • Parents may call the statewide Child Find Number for assistance in referring their children: 1 (800) 445-2722
    • No child is required to obtain a drug prescription as a condition of attending school. C.G.S. Sec. 10-76(d)(a)(1).
      • A child is not eligible for special education if the determining factor in the child’s special needs is:
        • A lack of appropriate instruction in reading,
        • A lack of instruction in math,
        • Limited English proficiency

    20 U.S.C. Sec. 1414(b)(5); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.306(b).

  • What type of education are children with a qualifying disability entitled to? What is a “free appropriate public education”?

    Under both federal and state law, school districts must provide each student with a disability with a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
    FAPE means special education and related services that are:
    1. provided at public expense and without charge

    2. meet appropriate standards

    3. include preschool through secondary education

    4. conform with an Individual Education Program (IEP).

    Title 20 United States Code (U.S.C.) Sec. 1401(9); Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Section (Sec.) 300.17.

    Except in limited circumstances, a school district shall attempt to provide every child an education within the general curriculum. C.A.R. Sec. 10-76d-1.
    If general curriculum options are exhausted and a child’s disability adversely affects the child’s educational performance, he or she may qualify for a specially designed instructional program.
    Special education must be provided in the local educational agency’s least restrictive environment (LRE), and, to the extent appropriate, with students who are not disabled. 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.114.
    An “appropriate” educational program and placement is one that is designed to meet a student’s unique needs in accordance to his or her IEP, and that allows him or her to obtain an educational benefit.
    Banks ex rel. Banks v. Danbury Bd. Of Educ., 238 F.Supp. 2d 428 (D.Conn. 2002).