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Specialized Education Programs

The California Education Code (section 56031) defines special education as:

  • Specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, whose educational needs cannot be met with modification of the general instruction program; and

  • Related services that help individuals with special needs to benefit from specially designed instruction. Special education is an integral part of the total public education system. Other features of special education are: 

    • Provided in a way that promotes maximum interaction between students with and without disabilities in a manner, which is appropriate to the needs of both;

    • Services are no cost to parents;

    • It provides a full range of program options to meet the educational and service requirements of individuals with exceptional needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The LRE is generally the setting that is most similar to those attended by general education students. 

What do special education services look like?
Each student who receives special education services has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) based on their unique needs. The IEP team develops goals based on a student’s educational functioning and determines the appropriate services and placement. These services may include specialized academic instruction, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.  

Who is eligible for special education services?

A student, between ages three and twenty-two, having one or more of the 13 federally defined disabling conditions that adversely affect his or her educational performance, may be eligible to receive special education services. Conditions include autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, hearing impairment (hard of hearing), intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, health impairment, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, speech and language impairment, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairment.

Not all students who are struggling will require special education services. We may also meet student needs through the Response to Intervention (RTI) program. The RTI program provides interventions for struggling learners at increasing levels of intensity within the general education setting.     

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