Special Needs Resources

Free Appropriate Public Education, or FAPE, is an educational right of children with disabilities in the United States that is guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under Section 504, FAPE is defined as “the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet individual needs of handicapped persons as well as the needs of non-handicapped persons are met and based on adherence to procedural safeguards outlined in the law.” Under the IDEA, FAPE is defined as an educational program that is individualized to a specific child, designed to meet that child's unique needs, provides access to the general curriculum, meets the grade-level standards established by the state, and from which the child receives educational benefit.The United States Department of Education issues regulations that define and govern the provision of FAPE.
To provide FAPE to a child with a disability, schools must provide students with an education, including specialized instruction and related services, that prepares the child for further education, employment, and independent living.
Referring Children for Consideration for Special Education Services
Referral is the beginning of the special education process. At the time of referral, your child's school must notify the parents in writing about the process it will follow to determine whether a child has a disability and needs special education services.

What is child find?
IDEA requires that all children with disabilities (birth through twenty-one) residing in the state, including children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who may be in need of special education and related services, must be identified, located, and evaluated by the public agency responsible and a practical method developed and implemented to determine which children with disabilities are currently receiving needed special education and related services.

Who should refer a child suspected of having a disability for formal evaluation and consideration for special education and related services?
If a child is suspected to have special needs because of a disability, he or she may be referred to the school to be considered for special education and related services. This referral may be made by parents, teachers, doctors, a community agency, an individual, a group, or an organization that may have worked with the student or school. Referral may also be the result of district-wide testing or screening.

What are the steps in the referral process?
  • At the time of referral, the school district must notify the parents in writing about the process it will follow to determine whether a student has a disability and needs special education services.
  • Information gathered during the referral process is used to determine whether the school will test a student to determine if he/she has a disability and needs special education.
  • If the school decides to test the child, the school is to notify the parents in writing about the assessment process and get written consent from the parent before the assessment begins.
  • If the school decides not to test the child for special education eligibility, the school must notify the parents about this decision. Parents may challenge the school district’s refusal to assess the child

Helpful Links

Special Education & the Homeless

Family Engagement

PATTAN Parent Page

PDE Special Ed Consult Line

Council for Exceptional Children

Parents' Right
http://pattan.net-website.s3.amazonaws.com/images/2011/09/28/Parents Rights0311.pdf

Voter Registration Info

Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/vocational rehabilitation/10356

Secondary Transition

Special Education FAQ

Office for Dispute Resolution

Understanding Special Education Forms

Bureau of Early Intervention
http://www.pattan.net/category/Educational%20Initiatives/Early%20Intervention http://www.pattan.net/category/Educational%20Initiatives/Early%20Intervention/page/bureau of early intervention services.html

PA Bureau of Special Education
PA Bureau of Special Education