The purpose of special education to provide a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for special needs students. Special education classes exist to teach each student at his or her ability levels, even if those levels are lower than the student’s current grade level.
Types of Disabilities:
There are many types of disabilities delineated in special education law. They include: Cognitive Disability, Physical Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Visual Impairment, Hearing Impairment, Deafness, Deaf/Blind, Speech/Language Impaired, Emotional Disability, Other Health Impairment, Multiple Disabilities, Developmentally Delayed, Autism, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Since the definitions of these disability categories are subject to change by the government, the reader is encouraged to visit the web site for the Illinois State Board of Education for current information.
The referral process starts with the parent and/or school personnel noticing a potential problem with a student. A parent may fill out referral forms (available at the school office) independently or in conjunction with the child’s teacher. If the district believes the referral is appropriate, the teacher and the principal will sign the referral form.
A domain meeting will be held to discuss eight different areas to see if they are relevant to the referral, how much we know about the child in each area, whether we need to do testing in one or more of the areas, what tests we will use, and who will gather the information. Areas include health, vision, hearing, intelligence, functional, motor skills, communication skills, social development, and academic performance. The parent should participate in this meeting, either in person or over the phone. Other participants include the teacher, school psychologist, school social worker and, possibly, others. After the meeting, the parent signs a permission form. Testing cannot be started without parental consent.
When all of the information has been gathered, a meeting, involving the parent and school personnel, is held to go over the results and determine if the child is eligible for special education. If the student meets the criteria for need of special services, the group will then become an IEP team and develop an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) to help remediate difficulties the student is having. The IEP includes goals for the student, accommodations needed, and a description of how many minutes of services per week that the student will receive, and where those services will be provided. Once the parent signs the paperwork, the plan may go into effect. The IEP team meets at least once per year. Every three years, the child has to be reevaluated to see if he or she is still eligible for special education help.
The IEP team meets annually to review the progress of each special education student. At this meeting, progress from the current school year is reviewed and a plan for the next school year is developed. Prior to the annual review in most cases, students are given an abbreviated achievement test to see the grade level at which they are performing in reading, language, math, factual knowledge, and basic skills. Parents are given a report on the results of this test.
At least yearly, and more often if requested by the parent, the special education office sends out a copy of a document furnished by the Illinois State Board of Education. Commonly referred to as Parent Rights, it is called an Explanation of Procedural Safeguards.
Special Education Director
Special Education Secretary