Special Education
January 05, 2007

Special Education: A Guide to Special Education

Source: NYSUT Research and Educational Services


The New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. (NYS PTA®) and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) are pleased to have collaborated on updating this Guide to Special Education. Special education is all about connections … connections between the school and the family; connections between the school and supporting agencies; connecting families with supporting agencies/programs; and connecting families with families. To connect well, one must build bridges … bridges that are built on firm foundations with good information as well as ones that lead to good destinations. It is a team effort and one that needs to be carefully monitored throughout the entire process.

As a parent of a child with a disability, you have a responsibility to be involved in the bridge building process. You advocate for your child who you know intimately. As an educator of a child with a disability, you assist in laying the groundwork for the bridge. You are familiar with the educational system and the myriad of instructional strategies that help children learn best. As an administrator, you have a responsibility to assist the bridge building process by ensuring that appropriate programs and services are provided to enable each child to reach his or her destination. Communication is a key component of special education … communication that is positive and informative and that encourages collaboration and minimizes misunderstandings.

Our organizations, from their very beginnings, have shared a steadfast commitment to improving the education, health, and welfare of children. This Guide then is a natural extension of this commitment. We hope it will be helpful as we continue to make the necessary connections to assure every child with a disability reaches his or her potential.

Download complete Guide to Special Education. [1MB pdf]

What's inside?

The complete guide, available for download, offers the following information and resources.

  • General Information
  • Helpful Acronyms
  • Ordering Information
  • Parent/Teacher Checklist
  • Questions and Answers
    • 1. What is special education?
    • 2. Where are special education services provided?
    • 3. Who are the members of the Committee on Special Education and Committee on Preschool Special Education?
    • 4. May teachers be excluded from CSE Meetings?
    • 5. What is the role on the committee of the general education teacher (sometimes referred to as the "regular" education teacher)?
    • 6. What is included in a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
    • 7. What are the steps to developing a student's IEP?
    • 8. What are the timelines for receiving special education services?
    • 9. What procedures are schools allowed to use to determine whether a student has a learning disability?
    • 10. What are Extended School Year Services?
    • 11. Are students with disabilities expected to meet the same standards and take the same tests as general education students?
    • 12. Are student educational records confidential?
    • 13. What is the alternate assessment for students with disabilities?
    • 14. What are test accommodations and how are they implemented?
    • 15. What are the rights of parents in the IEP process?
    • 16. Must the school district provide parents a copy of their legal rights under federal and state laws at least once a year (this is called a procedural safeguards notice)?
    • 17. What is an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)?
    • 18. What steps can a parent take if there is disagreement with a child's IEP?
    • 19. What happens if a parent does not consent to the child's initial evaluation or consent to the first request to provide special education program and services to the child?
    • 20. What happens if a parent or teacher believes the student's program or placement is no longer appropriate?
    • 21. What planning should occur for young adults with disabilities?
    • 22. What help is available for children who may not need special education but may require other accommodations to learn?
    • 23. What support services are available to children who are not considered to have a disability, but still have problems learning?
    • 24. May students with disabilities be suspended or removed from their educational placement for violating the school's code of conduct?
    • 25. What can be done if a school district is not complying with federal and state law on special education?
    • 26. Where can I find more information?

Download complete Guide to Special Education. [1MB pdf]

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