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- What is special education?
Special Education is a unique instruction program that is designed to meet the specific educational needs of a child with disabilities.
In South Carolina special education programs are determined by federal and state law. Most of the time federal and state laws are the same. Also, state law will specify changes that individuals are allowed with the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by the South Carolina Department of Education. 24 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. Sec. 43-243. Both federal and state law says that school districts must provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
- Who is eligible for special education?
State law provides special education for “handicapped children.” A handicapped child is one who does not have normal mental or physical functions that are so extreme that they require special classes, special facilities, or special services for their development.
Eligible conditions include:
- educable mentally handicapped;
- trainable mentally handicapped;
- emotionally handicapped;
- hearing handicapped;
- visually handicapped;
- orthopedically handicapped;
- speech handicapped; and
- those handicapped by learning disabilities.
- At what age is a student eligible for special education services?
Children must between 3 and 21 years old.
- What factors are taken into consideration when determining a student’s eligibility for special education?
A child is not eligible for special education if the determining factor in the child’s exceptional needs:
- Is a lack of instruction in reading
- A lack of instruction in math
- Or a 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”?
Both federal and state law requires school districts to provide each student with a disability a FAPE. FAPE means special education and related services that are provided:
- Free of charge
- Meet appropriate standards
- Include preschool through secondary education
- Conform to an Individual Education Program (IEP).
What is a specialized education?
A specialized education is “specially-designed instruction” to meet a child’s individual educational needs.
- “Specially-designed instruction” means adapting the content, method or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a child that result from their disability. This instruction also ensures that child have access to the general curriculum so educational standards are met.
34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.39(b)(3).
In South Carolina, children with a qualifying disability are entitled to specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including :
(i)Instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, hospitals, institutions, and in other settings
(ii) Instruction in physical education. S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(I)(B)(35)(a)(1).
(iii)Speech-language pathology services, travel training, and vocational education. S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(I) (B)(35)(a)(2).
- 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 a FAPE, school districts are required to provide “related services,” which allow a student to benefit from his special education program at no cost to the parents. S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(I)(B)(30). These services include:
- audiological services;
- counseling services;
- early identification and assessment of disabilities services;
- interpreting services;
- medical services;
- occupational therapy;
- orientation and mobility services;
- parent counseling and training services;
- physical therapy;
- psychological services;
- recreation services;
- rehabilitation counseling services;
- school health services and school nurse services;
- social work services in schools;
- speech-language pathology services; and
- transportation services.
Also, a child’s individual education plan may state that extended school year services be provided for the child. “extended school year services” are special education and related services that provided beyond the normal school year, at no cost to the parent of the student. S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(II) (C)(4).
- Who provides special education?
In South Carolina, the State Board of Education is responsible for establishing a program of specialized education for all handicapped children. This is done by using the personnel and facilities of the State Department of Education under the direction of the State Superintendent of Education. S.C. Code Sec. 59-33-30.
- Where should a child receive his or her special education and related services? What is a “least restrictive environment”?
A least restrictive environment means that children with disabilities must be educated among their nondisabled peers when possible.
Students with disabilities may be removed from the regular educational environment only when the disability is so severe that aids and services are not enough in the general education environment.
Also, specialized education and related services can be offered in the mainstream classroom, in a resource room, at home, in hospitals or residential programs.
In South Carolina, each public agency must ensure that alternative placement be available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education. This includes:
- instruction in regular classes
- special classes
- special schools
- home instruction
- instruction in hospitals,
- supplementary services
- How is a child determined to be eligible for special education? Is there an assessment or evaluation?
To be eligible for special education, a child is evaluated by an evaluation team, which may include school psychologists, speech-language therapists, and other persons responsible for the identifying students with disabilities. S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(C)(2). The state law provides specific eligibility criteria for the following:
- determining developmental delay
- mental disability
- specific learning disability
- emotional disability
- speech or language impairment
- deaf and hard of hearing
- visual impairment
- orthopedic impairment
- other health impairment
- traumatic brain injury
- Multiple disabilities.
- S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(I)(B)(5).
Disabilities must be reevaluated at least once every 3 years and must be conducted more regularly if parents or teachers ask for a reevaluation, or if the a student’s dismiss S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(IV)(B)(3).
- Once a child is identified as being eligible for special education, what are the next steps? What is an “IEP” (Individualized Education Plan)?
Once a child is eligible for special education an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed for that child.
An IEP outlines in writing the educational program for the student. S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(IV) (D)(1)(a).
The IEP must include:
- the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance;
- measurable annual goals;
- a description of how the child’s progress toward annual goals will be measured and reported;
- a description of special education, related services, supplementary aids and services that will be provided to the child
- an explanation of to what extent, the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class
- accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and district-wide assessments; or a statement why the child should not participate in the regular assessment, if the IEP team determine this;
- the projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications; and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services and modifications; and
- transition services needed for students who are 16 years or older.
- What options does a parent have if he or she disagrees with the proposed IEP placement or services?
The IDEA requires that the parents or guardian of a disabled child be notified by the school district of any proposed change to their child’s IEP. It also requires that the parents or guardian be permitted to participate in discussions relating to their disabled child’s evaluation and education. 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(b). If the parents or guardian are not satisfied with the IEP, they are entitled to request a due process hearing. 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(f).
What are the procedures for due process?
In South Carolina, a parent may file a due process complaint on any matter relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with a disability. S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(V) (8)(1). In general, the alleged violation must have occurred no more than two years before the date parents knew or should have known about that alleged issue.
- Can a special education student be disciplined?
School personnel may remove a child with a disability who violates a code of student conduct from his or her current placement to an appropriate temporary alternative educational setting, another setting, or suspension, for not more than ten consecutive school days and for additional removals of not more than ten consecutive school days in that same school year for separate incidents of misconduct (as long as those removals do not constitute a change of placement). S.C. Code Regs. Sec. 43-243(V)(B)(1)(b)(1).
- Can parents see the school records of their special education child?
The parents of a child with a disability must be given an opportunity to inspect all education records regarding:
(1) The identification and educational placement of the child
(2) The provision of FAPE to the child. 24 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. Sec. 43-243 (V)(2)(a)