The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the Federal law governing special education, requires participating states to have policies and procedures to ensure that:
“A free appropriate public education is available to children with disabilities residing in the State between the ages of three and 21, inclusive, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school.”
California law declares that:
“All individuals with disabilities with exceptional needs have a right to participate in free appropriate public education and that special education instruction and services for these persons are needed in order to ensure them of the right to an appropriate educational opportunity to meet their unique needs.”
Since it is the commitment and obligation of the Rosemead School District and its staff to ensure that students with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE), the following questions and answers are designed to help the user understand FAPE and the over-arching logic of special education policies and procedures.
Q: For special education purposes, who is a child with a disability?
A: There are three parts to the answer: (1) the child must be determined to have a disability; (2) because of the disability, the child needs special education and related services; (3) the child is age three through 21. If a child does not meet all of the above criteria then he/she is not eligible for special education.
Q: What disabilities are included?
A: Rosemead School District uses the following categories of disability:
Established Medical Disability (Ages three through five only)
Hard of Hearing
Other Health Impairment
Specific Learning Disabilities
Speech or Language Impairment
Traumatic Brain Injury
Q: What is special education?
A: Special education is specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of the child. In order for a child who has one or more of the above disabilities to be eligible for special education, they must have a unique educational need that requires specially designed instruction. A unique educational need is one that stems from the disability of the child and is significantly different from the educational needs of the student’s typical peers. Specially designed instruction is adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique educational needs of the child so that he/she can access the general curriculum and meet State and District educational standards.
Q: What are related services?
A: Related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. To receive one or more related services a child must have a disability, need special education, and the related service must be determined to be necessary to benefit from the special education. California law uses the term Designated Instructional Services to mean related services. Related services include, but are not limited to:
Language and Speech Therapy (can be special education or a related service)
Medical Services (for diagnostic purposes only)
Orientation and Mobility Services
Rehabilitation Counseling Services
Social Work Services
Q: Where may children with disabilities receive their special education and related services?
A: Federal and State law require that school districts ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities. The continuum, in descending order from least to most restrictive, includes instruction in:
General Education Classes
Q: Is there a policy for determining the appropriate placement for the child?
A: Placement decisions are governed by the least restrictive environment (LRE) legal requirement. “To the maximum degree appropriate children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled and that special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” This means that decisions to place a child in a more restrictive environment should only be made after considering and determining that less restrictive environments with special education, related services and other supports cannot meet the student’s needs. Students should not be placed in environments that are more restrictive than necessary to meet their educational needs. Placements for students with disabilities should be in the school they would attend if nondisabled or as close to their home as possible.
Q: How are all of the above decisions made?
A: The decisions are made by a team of people, including District personnel, the parents, the child, if appropriate, and others when appropriate who meet to develop a written individualized education program (IEP). The purpose of an IEP meeting is to bring together, in a collaborative and problem-solving manner, those persons with knowledge of and responsibility for the child’s educational needs to determine what is appropriate to meet the student’s needs.
Q: What happens if the IEP team cannot reach agreement?
A: Every effort should be made to reach agreement, keeping the child’s needs in mind. It is appropriate for the team to agree to implement those areas where there is agreement and/or to implement the IEP for an agreed upon period of time. Either the parent(s) or District staff may request that the matter be resolved through District informal dispute resolution, State mediation, or State due process hearing with option for mediation.
Q: What is a free appropriate public education (FAPE)?
A: FAPE means special education and related services that are provided in conformity with a child’s IEP, are provided at public expense and under public supervision and direction, and meet the standards of the State. In simple terms, if a student is receiving what is specified in his/her IEP and the process from referral through development of the IEP was done in a manner consistent with policies and procedures, then the student is receiving FAPE. Ensuring that all Rosemead School District students with disabilities entitled to FAPE receive such is our legal obligation and our professional responsibility.
Q: Are there policies and procedures for addressing the educational needs of students with disabilities who do not or no longer require special education and related services?
A: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act are Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Both laws, particularly Section 504, require the District to ensure that students with disabilities have access to all of the programs in the District for which they would be otherwise qualified, and have available appropriate accommodations and modifications in programs and services.