Special Education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
A child with a disability is defined as a child who has been evaluated and found to have speech or language impairment, hearing impairment including deafness, specific learning disability, visual impairment including blindness, emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairment, intellectual disability, deafblindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services. During the 2023-2024 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education made revisions to its policy regarding age eligibility for students with disabilities, extending enrollment until the student's 22nd birthday.
How will the school determine if my child has a disability?
The first step in identifying a child with a disability is through a child study team. Parental input is a valuable part of this process; therefore, parents are encouraged to be active members of the team. Meetings are held regularly to analyze students’ learning difficulties and to provide interventions around identified areas to see if progress can be made
in the regular educational environment. If the information reviewed by the team reveals little or no progress is made after the intervention period or more support is needed than can be accomplished in general education, the student support team may refer the child for an evaluation.
Before conducting an evaluation, the school district must receive permission from the parent in order to proceed. After permission is granted, the school district will gather information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior.
If a determination is made that a child has a disability and needs special education and related services, an IEP (Individual Education Program) must be developed.
What is an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)?
An IEP (Individual Education Program) is the blueprint for the education and related services that the District provides for a child with a disability, together with goals, assessment procedures, and placement of the child. This educational document is formulated by the IEP team. This team includes, but is not limited to, the parents of the child, at least one regular education teacher, at least one special education teacher, a representative of the public agency (such as principal or special education director), and, if appropriate, the child.
What will my child's education placement look like if they are found to have a disability?
The child’s placement is determined at least annually, is based on the child’s IEP, and is as close as possible to the child’s home. Unless the IEP of a child with a disability requires some other arrangement, the child is educated in the school that he or she would attend if non-disabled.