What is special education?
Special education is "specialized instruction" provided for students who are determined to have a specific disability. It may be provided by one or several special education professionals. Also, related service specialists will sometimes assist in the program planning or direct services for a child.
What are the different eligibility categories of special education?
- Deaf/Hard of Hearing
- Emotional & Behavioral Disorder
- Intellectual Disability (Mild, Moderate, Severe, Profound)
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Other Health Impairment
- Significant Developmental Delay
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment and Blindness
How is a child referred to special education?
All students in Georgia schools participate in evidence-based instruction that is developed based on grade level standards. When students struggle in the general education curriculum, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) are provided to assist with individual needs. Students who do not make progress with the individual interventions may be referred for an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services. Students in private schools, home schools, and charter schools, who are referred for special education services, should also have documentation of these prior interventions to assist in the determination of eligibility for special education services. Ultimately, the determination to refer for special education services is made on an individual basis and there may be situations where immediate consideration is necessary.
What is child find?
The purpose of Child Find is to identify, locate, and evaluate all children, in the district, birth through 21, who are suspected of, or have a disability or developmental delay that may result in a need for special education and related services. Jefferson City Schools serves children ages 3 through 21 with identified special education needs. Screening to determine appropriate educational strategies is not to be considered evaluation. Exceptions are allowed only when evaluation and/or placement is required due to a significant disability.
Jefferson City has Child Find responsibility for all children suspected of having disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. This includes:
- Children, birth through 3, who may or may not be referred to and served by the state’s early intervention program, Babies Can’t Wait
- Preschool children, ages 3 through 5, who may not be enrolled in a Georgia funded pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, including children who are parentally placed in private preschools or daycare centers outside the district
- Children who are enrolled in a public school within the district, including public charter schools
- Children who are parentally placed in private and home schools, highly mobile children, including migrant, homeless, and children who are wards of the state
- Children served in community programs such as rehabilitation centers, daycare centers, etc.
- Children, ages 18 through 21, who are incarcerated in facilities operated by the local sheriff’s office or other municipalities
- Any other children suspected of having disabilities
Jefferson City Schools completes Child Find responsibilities in a variety of ways annually. Jefferson City Schools includes public announcements through local media via public notice (ex. annual public notice on the system website), meetings with private and homeschool representatives, collaboration with other public agencies, and screenings of preschool children.
What steps occur following a referral to special education?
Parents are always contacted and informed of the reason for a referral. The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (June 1997) outlines specific steps and procedures which must follow a referral to Special Education. The steps include parents' involvement and are:
- Written copy of Parents' Rights are given to the parents
- Permission to evaluate is obtained
- Permission to place in Special Education is obtained (if eligible)
- Individualized Education Plan is developed (if eligible)
Where are students with disabilities served?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students with disabilities, to the maximum extent possible, are educated with students who are not disabled. This requirement includes children who are publicly placed in public or private institutions or psychiatric care, group homes, or state-operated hospitals in Georgia. Only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classrooms with supplementary aids and services cannot be satisfactorily achieved can students with disabilities be moved to other settings such as special classes or separate schooling. Regardless of where services are being provided, students with disabilities are expected to continue to have access to the Georgia Standards of Excellence for their grade level, and teachers are expected to maintain high expectations for student performance in meeting the standards.
Who do I contact if I have more questions about special education?
Your child's principal or the system's special education director.