Special education services are available for children over the age of three through age 21 who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) provides the legal grounds for children with disabilities to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). These services are administered by the school district where the child lives.
COVID-19 and Special Education
Families are learning to live a new normal with children, youth and young adults home. Schools are working to identify and provide virtual and other online learning options; this is even more challenging for students with disabilities who receive special education and related services and who have a right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Here are several guidance documents that may be helpful to families and educators:
COVID-19 (″Coronavirus″) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) has established a working group to provide information and resources related to COVID-19. In addressing the possible risk of an outbreak of coronavirus, school officials must keep students safe and secure while also meeting federal civil rights requirements.
Supplemental Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19
Q&A on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak
To gain a deeper understanding of the special education law and process and your child’s associated rights, order the Special Education in Virginia: A Guidebook for Parents Manual!
- …have statutory language at your fingertips, so you can speak to educators and attorneys in a language they understand.
- …understand what triggers Special Education law.
- …ensure that you child receives appropriate special education and related services.
Happy Camper: Making Summer Camps Accessible
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects youth in summer camps from discrimination on the basis of their disability status, but parents and camp staff may not always know what the law requires. This guide will help parents understand their child’s right to reasonable modifications and auxiliary aids and services, and it will provide parents with tools to effectively work with their child’s summer camp to plan for a fun-filled summer! (Fact Sheet)
Assistive Technology as an accommodation for Standard of Learning (SOL)
Students with disabilities have an equal right to participate in standardized tests like the Standards of Learning exams (SOLs). Students who use assistive technology (AT) in their classes or on their other tests should be allowed to use their AT on the SOLs as well. Learn About the Use of Assistive Technology and Standards of Learning Exams (Fact Sheet).
Special Education Rights of Children In Nursing Facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities
A child with significant medical issues may be admitted to a nursing home (SNF) or Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) for residential treatment if needed. Children with long-term disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Learn About Your Child’s Rights in Nursing Facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities (Fact Sheet).
Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT)
EPSDT can cover treatments that are not routinely covered for adults. Under EPSDT, states are required to provide any medically necessary healthcare services covered by the Social Security Act. Learn What Parents Need to Know About Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT).
Independent Educational Evaulation (IEE) Under IDEA Rights Information
An IEE is defined by Virginia State Special Education Regulations as “an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner(s) who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question.” An IEE is similar to a “second opinion” from a doctor. Learn About Your Right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Wraparound Services for Students with Disabilities
Wraparound Services are services and supports for children with complex behavior problems who are at risk of or receiving residential care. We have developed a fact sheet designed to help families understand Wraparound Services.
Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees in Special Education Due Process Hearings
A special education due process hearing occurs when there is a dispute about special education services for a child. We have developed a fact sheet answering frequently asked questions on attorneys’ fees in special education due process hearings.
Private Special Education Attorneys in Virginia List
This list is provided to assist clients in finding legal counsel, but it does not indicate an endorsement of the knowledge, skill, or competence of any specific attorney. Check out this referral list of attorneys in Virginia who handle special education cases as part of their practice.
- Inclusive Education Guidelines for Students with Down Syndrome
- Benefits Planning for Students (Information About)
- Functional Behavioral Assessments (updated June 2009)
- Information about Special Education Transportation (July 2011)
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act: IDEIA 2004 (Summary of Significant Changes) (07-2008) (Spanish)
- Transition Services (updated August 2015) (Spanish)
- What Transition Specialists Should Know About Benefits Counseling (7-2006)
Children with Disabilities in Foster Care
Child Find and Eligibility
Section 504 and ADA
Attendance and Truancy
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates – The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates has a directory of professional attorneys and advocates available. There are currently 45 listed professionals in this database.
- VCU’s Center for Family Involvement – VCU’s Center for Family Involvement has a regional family-to-family program. The Center for Family Involvement works with families to increase their skills as advocates, mentors and leaders so that families, children and young adults with disabilities can lead the lives they want.
- Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) – PEATC offers services, support and training for parents of students with disabilities. Their webpage has on-demand trainings, a listing of parent support groups, and calendar of upcoming trainings.
- Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)
- Legal Aid Justice Center’s Helping You Help Your Child: A Focus on Education – This manual contains a large volume of information on a child’s rights as they relate to education issues in Virginia. While not focused exclusively on special education, this resource covers many topics that anyone new to special education may need to know including diploma requirements, rights for homeless children, attendance, and truancy.
- Special Education Online Advocacy Resource Guide – This Advocacy Resource guide is designed to assist families with understanding the processes involved in special education to include negotiating with school divisions for appropriate services.
- Virginia Family Special Education Connection – The Virginia Family Special Education Connection has local disability resources and contacts, by county. The website provides a one-stop-shop for parents, families and caregivers of children with special needs.