Special Education Basics
Clarifications on RTI/MTSS and special education referral
Clarifications from the US Office of Special Education Programs and the Virginia Department of Education in spring 2023 that clarifies responsibilities of schools to allow a parent or caregiver to request an initial evaluation of child suspected of having a disability. Response to Intervention (RTI) and Multitiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) cannot be used to delay or deny an initial evaluation.
Federal letter to Special Education Directors on High Quality Education for Highly Mobile ChildrenNovember 10, 2022
This federal letter from the US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued 11/10/22 to State Special Education Directors clarifies requirements for highly mobile children and youth such as military-connected children, migratory children, children who are homeless, and children in the foster care system.
Specific issues addressed are:
- Highly mobile children should have timely and expedited evaluations and eligibility determinations.
- Comparable services include services during the summer, such as Extended School Year (ESY) services.
Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents in Private Schools
From the US Office of Special Education programs, this set of guidance Questions and Answers addresses special education (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA) requirements applicable to children with disabilities placed by their parents or caregivers in private schools, who are not enrolled in public school system.
This was updated in February 2022.
Federal Discipline Guidance and Resources, issued July 2022July 19, 2022
Released on July 19, 2022, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) published several policy documents and guides to help public elementary and secondary schools fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid the discriminatory use of student discipline.
The resources are the most comprehensive guidance on the civil rights of students with disabilities concerning student discipline and build on the Department’s continued efforts to support students and schools through pandemic recovery.
Special Education for Formed Families: Making It Work! webinarMarch 08, 2022
Presented live on March 8, 2022, this webinar overviewed eligibility and evaluation processes and offered helpful strategies for foster, adoptive and kinship families to ensure appropriate assessments. Presented by Kelly Henderson and Beth Spivack of FFF.
VDOE Supplemental Guidance for Evaluation and Eligibility in Special Education
From the Virginia Department of Education, this 2021 guidance offer is an addendum to the Virginia Department of Education’s Evaluation and Eligibility For Special Education and Related Services: Guidance Document and Guidance on Evaluation and Eligibility for the Special Education Process Appendix A (Sample Evaluation and Eligibility Forms). The Supplemental Guidance provides information about data sources that may be used to inform eligibility for special education services or a need for a related service, as well as information to assist in the local interpretation for terminology in Virginia special education regulations that are not clearly defined (e.g., determining “adverse educational impact” and determining “need for specially designed instruction”).
Reevaluations: Tips for Continuing Special Education Eligibility webinar
Originally broadcast on March 1, 2022, this webinar presented by Kelly Henderson of Formed Families Forward includes a review of the why, when, who and what of special education reevaluations or “triennials”. The 4 steps of reevaluation and the specifics of the ‘developmental delay’ category are covered.
The Special Education Evaluation Process webinar
Delivered on February 22, 2022 by FFF staff experts, this was first in the Winter 2022 Accessing Special Education: Evaluation & Eligibility Basics webinar series. This session covered initial referral and evaluation processes, timelines and requirements. Eligibility categories and approaches were shared.
Virginia JLARC Report on Special Education December 2020
Find the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s December 4, 2020 report on K-12 Special Education HERE.
Find the December 14, 2020 presentation to the Commission HERE.
Find State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Virginia Department of Education response, December 14, 2020 HERE.
In 2018, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) directed its staff to review Virginia’s K–12 special education system. Staff were directed to review school divisions’ identification and eligibility determination processes; the processes used to determine where students with disabilities will receive their education; student outcomes; the adequacy of training and expertise in special education across school divisions; the effectiveness of the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) monitoring, guidance, and support; and spending trends in special education. (See Appendix A for the study resolution.)
To address the mandate, JLARC staff analyzed student- and state-level data on the enrollment, placements, discipline, and outcomes of students receiving special education, data on state and local spending on special education services, and data related to VDOE’s monitoring efforts. Staff interviewed school division special education directors, special education teachers, VDOE staff, parents, advocates, staff from education agencies in other states, and other stakeholders, including special education experts at Virginia’s special education Training and Technical Assistance Centers. JLARC staff also surveyed school division special education directors and parents of students receiving special education services and reviewed research literature on topics related to special education.
Virginia Parent’s Guide to Special Education
From the Virginia Department of Education
This publication was developed to help parents understand their rights and responsibilities, their child’s rights and the school’s responsibilities to meet the special needs of their child. The guide includes a description of the special education process and what is required of you and the school during each step of that process. Important timelines are highlighted in each section.