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


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


Formed Families Forward Podcast on Special Parents Confidential

A podcast featuring Formed Families Forward, recorded in July 2020, with Special Parents Confidential.

  • Document, Formed Families Forward Podcast on Special Parents Confidential

    Special Parents Confidential


Special Education Hacks that Help Students with Mental Health Conditions

A presentation by FFF Director Kelly Henderson for the NAMI of Virginia Family and Youth Virtual Summit on May 16, 2020. Includes some COVID-related specifics at conclusion of the session.

  • Video, Special Education Hacks that Help Students with Mental Health Conditions


Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities online modules

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), through grant funding provided by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD) and assistance provided by the Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) at James Madison University has developed five web-based training modules for parents, school professionals, and other community stakeholders that work with families whom have a child with a disability.   Parents and caregivers have certain goals in mind when their children go to school. Regardless of whether or not their children have disabilities, all parents want their children to learn, explore, and experience as much as they possibly can.  Parents strive for their children to complete their public education, obtain a diploma, and be fully prepared to move on toward their chosen path, whether that is immediate employment, higher education, or something else.  In order for children to achieve these goals, there are certain decisions that will have to be made along the way.  The modules created relate to the Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities curriculum and are designed to assist participants in understanding four things as they prepare to make these decisions:

  • What are some of the keys to a child’s academic success?
  • What decisions will need to be made regarding a child’s educational path?
  • At what point should we be making these decisions?
  • What information is needed so that we can make the most well informed decisions possible for a child?

There are a total of five modules that range in length from three to five minutes, which can be completed in a single viewing or broken up over time to meet individual time constraints.

The curriculum for these modules is also available in print and online.  A fully accessible online version is located at the following web link: Virginia Department of Education’s Special Education – Parents Section.  To obtain a printed copy of the curriculum or to ask questions about the module training opportunities, please contact Tracy Lee, Family Engagement Specialist, via email, at Tracy.Lee@doe.virginia.gov, or by phone, at (804) 225-3492.

  • Website, Critical Decision Points for Families of Children with Disabilities online modules


Virginia Family Special Education Connection

This website provides a one-stop-shop for parents, families and caregivers of children with special needs to:

  • Access local school system contacts and disability services in your community
  • Explore an abundance of resources, including assistive technology and behavioral supports to help your child succeed.
  • Learn about and plan your child’s educational program
  • Understand your legal rights and responsibilities

Parents and families can and do make a difference in their child’s education.

  • Website, Virginia Family Special Education Connection


Learn more about FFF- 2019 ‘Your Need to Know’ TV program

Formed Families Forward was pleased to be featured on the Fairfax Public Access television show “Your Need to Know”. Learn more about how FFF started and the wealth of services and programs we offer to foster, adoptive and kinship families!

  • Website, Learn more about FFF- 2019 ‘Your Need to Know’ TV program


Section 504 Flow Chart

This handout from PACER Center offers a flow chart for distinguishing Section 504 support from special education/IDEA services.

  • Factsheet, Section 504 Flow Chart


Special Education Eligibility- A “Less Than 5” minute video

This FFF “Less Than 5” minute video reviews the special education eligibility process and offers families some helpful tips.

  • Video, Special Education Eligibility- A “Less Than 5” minute video


Getting Ready for IEP meetings- A ‘Less than 5’ minute video lesson

This FFF “Less than 5” minute video lesson highlights some key information and hints for preparing for Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.

  • Video, Getting Ready for IEP meetings- A ‘Less than 5’ minute video lesson


Pathways to Success modules for families

From the Virginia I’m Determined project, the Pathways to Success is a series of online learning modules for parents and caregivers.

The Pathways to Success are set up for you, at your own pace, to learn about how to support your child in becoming more self-determined. If you are just beginning, you can follow the Parent Path in the order it has been created, and if you just want to learn more about a certain aspect, you can simply skip to that part and grab the information you need

  • Website, Pathways to Success modules for families


Definition of Parent- VDOE Guidance Document

This Va Department of Education Guidance Document for Implementing New Special Education Requirements for the Definition of Parent, is dated May 2009, continues to be in effect. See final page for the Code definition of Parent for purposes of special education.

  • Website, Definition of Parent- VDOE Guidance Document


Engaging Families in Mental Health and Disability Services tip sheet

This one pager from the new Northern Virginia Family Network (NVFN) designed for professional staff who work with families and youth. It offers some brief, straightforward suggestions and reminders about effectively communicating and building partnerships with families who are in need of education, mental health, disability and other services and supports.

Members of the NVFN are found on the back of the flyer.

  • Factsheet, Engaging Families in Mental Health and Disability Services tip sheet


US Department of Education IDEA website

The U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) website brings together IDEA information and resources from the Department and our grantees.

  • Website, US Department of Education IDEA website


Accommodations Menu list

A 16 page list of possible accommodations for children and youth with disabilities, that might be appropriate for 504 plans and individualized education programs (IEPs).

  • Document, Accommodations Menu list