What is an Educational Disability?

There are 13 different disability categories as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), under which 3- through 22-years-olds may be eligible for services.

In order to qualify for special education, the IEP Team must determine that a child has a disability in one of the 13 categories and it must adversely affect their educational performance:

  •        Autism Spectrum Disorder
  •        Deaf-Blindness
  •        Deafness
  •        Emotional Disturbance
  •        Hearing Impairment
  •        Intellectual Disability
  •        Multiple Disabilities
  •        Orthopedic Impairment
  •        Other Health Impairment
  •        Specific Learning Disability
  •        Speech or Language Impairment
  •        Traumatic Brain Injury
  •        Visual Impairment, including Blindness

The Evaluation Process

What does the evaluation process determine?

  • The Evaluation determines whether your child has an educational disability AND whether you child requires specially designed instruction and/or related services. The report that is compiled and written by the evaluation team (which includes you, the parent) is called an Evaluation Report (ER).

Who participates in the evaluation?

  • The evaluation is conducted by an evaluation team.  Under Pennsylvania regulations, the evaluation team must include a certified school psychologist when evaluating for these disabilities: Autism, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, other health impairment, specific learning disability and traumatic brain injury.  Parents must always be part of an evaluation team.  The regular education teachers are also a part of this team because they have been teaching the child, and know how the child performs in relation to his or her peers. A special education teacher, special education supervisor or other instruction specialist could also be a member of the evaluation team, because of their expertise.

How long does the evaluation take?

  • The school has 60 calendar days from the date that the parent/guardian signs and returns to the school the PTE form to evaluate your child and notify you of the results. The 60 calendar days do not include the summer months after a school year has ended.

How do I get my child evaluated, if I suspect my child is eligible for special education?

  • School districts must identify and evaluate all students who are thought to have a disability and who may be eligible for special education or related services. If you suspect your child is eligible, you can submit a request, in writing, to the Principal at your child’s school to start the process. Once you make the request the school will either issue a “permission to evaluate” (PTE) or explain, in writing, why a PTE may not be issued.

Transition Planning

What does transition planning accomplish?

  • Transition planning helps students and their families think about the future and jointly plan with the school and supporting agencies to make the school experience contribute directly to achieving the necessary skills for a successful adult life.

Why is it important to do secondary transition planning?

  • Transition planning is required by federal law (IDEA 97) and Pennsylvania regulations (Chapter 14). The purpose of transition planning and programming is to encourage students to pursue education and/or training and to seek employment beyond high school.

When does secondary transition planning start?

  • Transition planning must start by age 14. Transition planning may begin at an earlier age if the IEP team decides that early planning is appropriate. Beginning no later than age 14, the IEPs of students must include a course of study, transition services and/or activities and goals and objectives that support the students’ post-school goals for education and training, employment, and independent living.

Related Services

How often should a student receive a related service?

  • The IEP team determines the frequency, location, and duration of related services based on a student’s individual needs. Parents are an integral part of the IEP team. The related service provider often provides the support to teachers and classroom staff so that the related service can take place in the classroom throughout the day.

How is a student’s need for related services determined?

  • Each student’s need for related services, just as the need for special education, is determined by the student’s IEP team as part of the individualized education program (IEP) process.

My child receives one of the services named as special education. Is this a related service?

  • Speech/language, deaf/hard of hearing and vision support can either be the student’s special education support in the general curriculum or the support can be the related service supporting the IEP. The student must have a disability in the specified area(s) and be in need of specialized instruction to receive support in the specified area(s) in order to be successful in the curriculum.

May I speak to the school psychologist without my child being evaluated for special education?

  • The psychologist is a member of the school team. You may make an appointment anytime to speak with the psychologist without having to have your child evaluated.

Assistive Technology

What is an assistive technology device?

  • An assistive technology device is any piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.

Who is responsible for determining what assistive technology services a student should receive?

  • The IEP team is responsible for determining if an assistive technology device and/or service is necessary for a child with a disability to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education).

When a student moves from school to school, does the assistive technology device move with the student?

  • If the assistive technology device is necessary for a student to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education), the device must be provided to the student in his new school.

How is assistive technology integrated into the delivery of the general education curriculum?

  • The IEP team will discuss how the student will use the device and how it will be integrated into the general education curriculum. This information will be shared with the general education teachers so that they will be aware of how it will be used.

Is the School District responsible for retaining, repairing or replacing assistive technology devices?

  • If purchased or secured by the school District, they will repair or replace assistive devices, as long as the student requires them in order to receive FAPE (Free And Appropriate Education).