Special Education Basics

Virginia Special Education Regulations

From the Virginia Department of Education, this launch page offers a copy of state regulations for implementation of IDEA, and other state and federal special education policies.

  • Website, Virginia Special Education Regulations


Federal letter to Special Education Directors on High Quality Education for Highly Mobile Children
November 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:

  1. Highly mobile children should have timely and expedited evaluations and eligibility determinations.
  2. Comparable services include services during the summer, such as Extended School Year (ESY) services.
  • PDF, Federal letter to Special Education Directors on High Quality Education for Highly Mobile Children


VDOE Credit accommodations for Advanced Studies and Standard Diplomas

This webpage provides updated information about available accommodations for earning credits needed for Virginia’s Standard and Advanced Studies diplomas.

  • Website, VDOE Credit accommodations for Advanced Studies and Standard Diplomas

    VDOE Credit Accommodations for students with disabilities


Back to School with ADHD webinar

Originally broadcast live on September 6, 2022, this webinar from FFF provides an overview of ADHD, recent federal policies and strategies for formed families impacted by the condition.

  • Webinar, Back to School with ADHD webinar

    Recording of Back to School ADHD webinar

  • PPT, Back to School with ADHD webinar

    Presentation slides


State Complaint Toolkit from PEATC

This Toolkit from Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC, the Virginia statewide parent training and information center) reviews policy and procedures for filing a State complaint regarding an alleged violation of special education rules.

  • Toolkit, State Complaint Toolkit from PEATC

    State Complaint Toolkit


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.

  • Website, Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents in Private Schools

    Q & A guidance


Foster Care, Special Education, and Learning and Thinking Differences: What You Need to Know

This brief article from Understood.org overviews some education issues specific to children and youth in foster care to foster/resource parents.

  • Document, Foster Care, Special Education, and Learning and Thinking Differences: What You Need to Know


Federal Discipline Guidance and Resources, issued July 2022
July 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.

  • PDF, Federal Discipline Guidance and Resources, issued July 2022

    Questions and Answers: Addressing the Needs of Children with Disabilities and IDEA's Discipline Provisions from OSERS

  • PDF, Federal Discipline Guidance and Resources, issued July 2022

    Stakeholders' Guide: Positive, Proactive Approaches to Supporting Children with Disabilities from OSERS

  • PDF, Federal Discipline Guidance and Resources, issued July 2022

    Dear Colleague Letter: Addressing the Needs of Children with Disabilities and IDEA's Discipline Provisions

  • PDF, Federal Discipline Guidance and Resources, issued July 2022

    Dear Colleague Letter: Supporting Students with Disabilities and Avoiding the Discriminatory Use of Student Discipline under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

  • PDF, Federal Discipline Guidance and Resources, issued July 2022

    Fact Sheet: Supporting Students with Disabilities and Avoiding the Discriminatory Use of Student Discipline Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973


Extended School Year (ESY) webinar May 2022
May 19, 2022

This webinar, presented live on 5/19/22 by special education advocate Liz Capone, MS, offered timely information about extended school year services for students with disabilities.

  • Webinar, Extended School Year (ESY) webinar May 2022

    Recording of the webinar

  • PDF, Extended School Year (ESY) webinar May 2022

    Presentation slides


Special Education for Formed Families: Making It Work! webinar
March 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.

  • Webinar, Special Education for Formed Families: Making It Work! webinar

    Webinar recording

  • PDF, Special Education for Formed Families: Making It Work! webinar

    Presentation slides

  • PDF, Special Education for Formed Families: Making It Work! webinar

    VDOE Supplemental Guidance on Evaluation and Reevaluations 2021


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”).

  • Website, VDOE Supplemental Guidance for Evaluation and Eligibility in Special Education


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.

  • Webinar, Reevaluations: Tips for Continuing Special Education Eligibility webinar

    Recording of Reevaluation Webinar

  • PDF, Reevaluations: Tips for Continuing Special Education Eligibility webinar

    Slides


Finding the Sweet Spot: Foster Care, Disability and Special Education article

This article by FFF Executive Director Kelly Henderson offers an overview of special education considerations for children and youth in foster care. It was published in Fostering Families Today magazine in July 2021.

  • Webinar, Finding the Sweet Spot: Foster Care, Disability and Special Education article

    Article on website

  • PDF, Finding the Sweet Spot: Foster Care, Disability and Special Education article

    PDF version of article


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.

  • Webinar, The Special Education Evaluation Process webinar

    Recording of webinar

  • PDF, The Special Education Evaluation Process webinar

    Presentation slides


Applied Studies Diploma fact sheet from VDOE

Published by Va Department of Education in Spring 2021.

  • Factsheet, Applied Studies Diploma fact sheet from VDOE


Happy Camper accommodations guide for summer camps

From the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, this short guide provides an overview of federal law and policies that provide for accessible summer camp experiences.

  • PDF, Happy Camper accommodations guide for summer camps

    Happy Camper guide


Getting through the Gate: Special Education Eligibility webinar

Broadcast live on March 18, 2021, this webinar from FFF covered the topics of referral, evaluation and eligibility for special education.

  • Webinar, Getting through the Gate: Special Education Eligibility webinar

    Webinar recording

  • PDF, Getting through the Gate: Special Education Eligibility webinar

    Getting through the Gate slides


Home/School Contract- Fillable template

This fillable Word document can be used to create and customize a written agreement between student, parent/caregiver, and school staff.  Customize areas and actions and clarify recognitions and rewards.

  • Document, Home/School Contract- Fillable template


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.

Background:

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.

  • Guide, Virginia Parent’s Guide to Special Education

    Parent's Guide in English, PDF

  • Guide, Virginia Parent’s Guide to Special Education

    Parent's Guide in Spanish, PDF

  • Guide, Virginia Parent’s Guide to Special Education

    Parent's Guide in ePUB version for mobile


Questions and Answers on the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 for Students with Disabilities Attending Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

A Question and Answer guidance document from the Office of Civil Rights, US Department of Education that addresses how the Americans with Disabilities Act amendments of 2008 impact students with disabilities. This particularly impacts students who have a 504 plan or are eligible for protections under Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

  • Document, Questions and Answers on the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 for Students with Disabilities Attending Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

    Q and A guidance document from US Dept of Educ