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  • What is Special Education?
    • Special Education is schooling that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of a child with a disability.
    •  Under both federal and state law, school districts must provide each student with a disability with free appropriate public education (FAPE).  
  • Is my child eligible for Special Education?
    • Whether a child is identified as a “child with a disability” and is eligible for special education is based on the results of the child’s evaluation and the federal regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Eligible disabilities include;
      •   Mental retardation
      • Hearing impairment
      • Deafness
      • Speech or language impairment
      • Visual impairment, including blindness
      • Emotional disturbance
      •  Orthopedic impairment
      • Autism
      • Traumatic brain injury
      • Other health impairment (i.e., having limited strength, vitality, or alertness that affects a child’s educational performance)
      • Specific learning disability
      • Deaf-blindness
      • Multiple disabilities

        20 U.S.C. 1401(3); 20 U.S.C. 1401(3); 30 CFR § 300.8

    • Oklahoma provides a full educational opportunity to all children with disabilities aged birth through 21.
    • A child is not eligible for special education if the determining factor in the child’s exceptional needs is a lack of instruction in math, reading, or limited English proficiency.


  • What type of education are children with a qualifying disability entitled to? What is 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. Follow an Individual Education Program (IEP).

     20 U.S.C. 1401(9); 34 CFR § 300.17.

    Children with disabilities are entitled to special education and related services through preschool, elementary, and secondary school. Special education will be provided.

    • Under public supervision
    • At public expense
    • Without charge to the parents

    Any eligible child with disabilities has the right to earn a standard high school diploma.

  • In addition to a free appropriate public education, are there other services a child with a disability is entitled to? What are “related services”?
    • In addition to providing public education, school districts are required to provide related servicesat no cost to the parents.
      •  Related services are services that are necessary for the child to benefit from special education.


    • These services may include:
      •  Transportation to school and school functions;
      • Speech/Language therapy;Psychological services;
      • Counseling;
      • Social work services in school
      • Audiology
      • Occupational therapy;
      • Physical therapy
      • Recreation;
      • Assistive technology;
      •  School health services;
      • Medical services;
      • Rehabilitation services
      • Parent counseling and training;
      • Early identification and assessment of special need;
      • Orientation and mobility; and
      •  Other services needed to benefit from special education
      • 20 U.S.C. § 1401(26); 34 CFR § 300.34
  • Who provides special education?
    • The SoonerStart Early Intervention (EI) Program provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities aged birth through two.
    • Local educational Agencies (LEAs), often school districts, and State operated programs provide a full educational opportunity to children with disabilities, aged three through 21
  • Where should a child receive his/her special education and related services?
    • Special Education must be provided in a least restrictive environment (LRE).
    • What does least restrictive environment mean (LRE)?
    • Special Education can be offered in:
      • Mainstream classroom
      • Resource roomAt a service provider locations
      •  At a public or private separate day or residential school
      • At home
      • In hospital
        • Placement decisions for all children with disabilities must be made on an individual basis by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.
        • A child does not need to fail in the general education curriculum before another placement can be considered.
        •  A child does not have to demonstrate a specific performance level as a prerequisite for placement into a general education curriculum.
  • How is a child determined to be eligible for special education? Is there an assessment or evaluation?
    • For a child to be eligible for special education, an evaluation must be carried out.
      •  Parents may ask school officials to evaluate a child.
      •  School officials may ask parents for permission to do an evaluation. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(a); 34 CFR § 300.301. 


    • Once the evaluation has been completed, a team of individuals, including the parents, will meet to discuss the evaluation. This meeting is at no cost to the parents.


    • The team includes:
      • The parents
      • The child’s regular education teacher
      • A special education teacher
      • An administrator
      • A qualified examiner who can interpret test results.
      • Note: the team may also include the child, related service providers, interpreters, attorneys or anyone with special knowledge of the child or the disability.
    • The team must determine within 45 days after receiving the parental consent for the evaluation, whether a child is eligible for special education.
  • Once a child is identified as being eligible for special education, what are the next steps?

    Once the team determines that the child is eligible for special education and related services, the team will meet to write a formal, legal document called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP sets forth the action plan for how to meet the child’s needs

    The IEP must include:

    1. A statement of what the child can do, the child’s present level of educational performance and the relationship of the child’s disability to the educational performance;
    2. A list and statement describing educational strengths, followed by educational needs;
    3. A statement of measurable annual goals, and when appropriate, short-term, measurable objectives to tell what the child is expected to learn;
    4. How the goals are to be evaluated to see if they are being met;
    5. How and when the child’s parents will be informed of the child’s progress in meeting the goals and objectives;
    6. A statement of the supplementary aids and services the child needs and what modifications and supports are needed for the school staff to help the child;
    7. The date services will begin and end;
    8. Transition goals, course of study, other agencies involved, and coordinated activities to assist your child in meeting his or her transition needs;


    1. A statement that your child will be informed of transfer rights by age 17. This means that the child will be informed of all the procedural safeguards and rights that until now have been held by the parents on his or her behalf.
    2. An explanation of why, if at all, the child will not be with other children of the same age who do not have special needs;
    3. A statement that your child will take state or local achievement tests;
    4. The title of the person responsible for performing the services;


    1. If the child does not attend his or her neighborhood school, an explanation of why it is different;
    2. Information indicating whether Extended School Year (ESY) is needed (the Oklahoma State Department of education has a technical assistance document that explains ESY in detail at;
    3. Other factors to be considered (i.e., behavioral interventions needed, language needs, use of Braille, communication needs for students for students who are deaf, and assistive technology);
    4. A behavioral intervention Plan (BIP) if needed.

     20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(10(A), (d)(6); 34 CFR § 300.32

  • What if a parent believes the school district is not doing its job (i.e., failing to implement a valid individualized Education Plan (IEP)?
    • A parent may file a complaint with the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and the Local Education Agency (LEA), if he or she believes the district:
      • has failed to implement a valid IEP
      • has failed to follow special education law
      • is discriminating against a student or group of students


    • If a parent files a complaint with the LEA, he or she has a right to request an OSDE review of the LEA’s decision.


    • The OSDE and the LEA have 60 calendar days after receiving the parent’s formal written complaint to investigate the complaint and come to a decision. 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3; 34 CFR §§ 300.151-300.152
  • What options does a parent have if she or he disagrees with the proposed IEP placement or services? What are the procedures for “due process” (a course of formal proceedings carried out regularly and in accordance with established rules and principles )?
    • If a parent disagrees with the proposed IEP placement or services, or if the parent believes the district has failed to comply with the child’s IEP, the parent can file for due process.
      • To do so, the parent must submit a signed written request complaint hearing to the administrator of the LEA and must mail a copy of the request to the OSDE Special Education Services.
      • The written complaint should contain:
        1. Specific reasons for challenging the identification, evaluation, placement, or appropriateness of the child;
        2. A description of the facts relating to the problems;
        3. A proposed resolution of the problem
    •  Parents can obtain a form for complaints from the OSDE-Special Education Services.


    • Within 15 days of receipt of the formal written complaint, the LEA must meet with the parent and the relevant members of the IEP team who have specific knowledge of the facts alleged in the complaint.


    • If the LEA does not resolve the due process complaint to the satisfaction of the parents within 30 days after receiving the complaint, the due process hearing may occur.


    •At the hearing the parent has the right to:

    • Be accompanied by a council and by individuals with special knowledge about the problems of the child with disabilities;
    • Present evidence;
    • Confront, cross-examine, and call witnesses ;
    • Prohibit the opposing party from introducing any evidence that has not been shown to be examined by them at least 5 business days before the hearing;
    • Obtain a written or electronic word-for-word record of the hearing;
    • Obtain written or electronic findings of fact and decisions.
    • Unless one of the parties involved appeals, the decision made at the hearing is final.
    •  A parent wishing to challenge the decision must initiate an appeal within 30 calendar days after receipt of the decision.
      • It is the OSDE-Special Education Services’ responsibility to reach a decision and mail a copy of the decision to parents within 75 days after the parents initially initiated the appeal.
    • The child must remain in the current educational placement until the final due process complaint and appeal decision has been issued.
      • The child can only be removed from his educational placement if the parents and the LEA come to a mutual agreement.  
  • Can a special education student be disciplined?
    • If a child with disabilities shows behavior that endangers the child or others, the school can use its normal discipline procedures. The procedures by which the school can discipline the child are:
      • Use of study cubicles
      • Timeouts
      • Detentions
      • Restriction of privileges
    • If a child’s behavior prevents his or her learning or that of others, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team must consider strategies to address that behavior.
    • If a child violates school code of conduct, the school may remove the child to an alternative educational setting for up to 10 days.
      • During this time, the Local Education Agency, or the parents may initiate a review of the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) to determine whether changes in IEP services and/or placement are needed.
    • If the child is given an out-of-school suspension for more than five days, the Local Education Agency (LEA) must provide the child with an education plan designed to eventually reintegrate the child into school.

    • If a child is given a suspension that lasts longer than 10 consecutive days or is expelled, the Local Education Agency (LEA), the parent, and the relevant members of the Individualized Education Program team will meet to determine whether the child’s behavior was due to the child’s disability. This meeting is called manifestation determination review
      • If it is found that the behavior is a manifestation of the child’s disability, the child must return to his original placement in school.
      •  If the behavior was not a manifestation of the child’s disability, then the same disciplinary procedures that apply to children without disabilities may be applied to the child.
    • In the following cases, the school can remove a child with disabilities from his original educational placement without a manifestation determination review:
      • The child carried a weapon
      • The child possessed, used, or sold illegal drugs
      • The child inflicted serious bodily injury to another person while at school, on school premises , or at a school function.
    • A parent may request a due process hearing to challenge the manifestation determination review. During the appeal time, the child must remain in the interim alternative educational setting.
      • The OSDE must arrange a hearing within 20 school days of the date of the complaint
      • The hearing officer must make a determination within 10 days after the hearing.
  • Can parents see the school records of their special education child?
    • A parent is entitled to inspect, review, and receive a copy of the child’s educational record.
    • If a parent believes the records are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the child’s privacy rights, the parent may seek to change it.
      • The LEA must provide a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) hearing, if requested by the parents.