Special Education Overview
What is Special Education?
California Education Code (Section 56031) describes 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 regular instructional program. It includes related services at no cost to the parent that may be needed to assist such individuals to benefit from specially designed instruction. Special education ensures students receive a Free, Appropriate Public Education, commonly referred to as FAPE. FAPE is a description of the services and supports that are required for a child with a disability to gain educational benefit. The offer of FAPE is outlined in a student's Individual Education Plan (IEP). Special education further ensures all students receive instruction in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). LRE is defined as the education of students with disabilities with non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible. Once a student qualifies for Special Education services, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed by the IEP team, which consists of qualified professionals, the student, and the parents.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Special Education Services?
Children are eligible to receive special education and related services when the IEP team determines that the child meets state and federal eligibility criteria and requires special education services. Not all children with special needs require special education services. There are fourteen categories of eligibility for special education: specific learning disability, speech or language impairment; intellectual disability; multiple disabilities; emotional disturbance; traumatic brain injury; autism; other health impairment; visual impairment; deafness; orthopedic impairment; deaf/blindness; hard of hearing; and established medical disability (0-5 years old). Most students are served through district programs, including Resource Specialist Programs, Special Day Classes, Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI), and related services. Some students whose needs cannot be met in district programs are served in either county or non-public school programs.
The District shall locate, identify, and evaluate all private school children with disabilities including religious school children residing in the jurisdiction of the District in accordance with S300.125 and 300.220. The activities undertaken to carry out this responsibility for private school children with disabilities will be comparable to activities undertaken for children with disabilities in private schools. Child-find activities shall include consultation with representatives (staff and parents) of private school children ages three (3) to twenty-two (22) with disabilities regarding how to carry out intervention and referral activities. Some of the ways in which the Stockton Unified School District carries out the responsibility for child find include:
- Distributing materials to representatives of private school children with disabilities (including private school administrators, teachers, parents, and/or students) regarding issues, including but not limited to, criteria for special education eligibility and special education referral procedures under federal and state laws and regulations.
- Distribute materials to local pediatricians.
Students must be referred for special education instruction and services only after the resources of the general education program have been considered and, where appropriate, utilized. If, after considering and, where appropriate, utilizing general education resources, representatives of private school children with disabilities (including private school administrators, teachers, and parents) determine that a private school child may be eligible for special education services, a referral shall be directed to the private school child's public school of residence or, for preschool students, to the Stockton Unified School District; Department of Special Education.
Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)
It is the policy of Stockton Unified School District SELPA that a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) is available to all children residing in the SELPA between the ages of three and 21, including students with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled. Appropriate education is that combination of educational and related service(s) as determined on an individual basis to the meet the unique needs of each individual in order to benefit from their access to educational opportunities.
The SUSD SELPA is responsible for assuring that pupils have full educational opportunities. The Local Educational Agency has available to all of its’ children with disabilities the variety of educational programs and services available to non-disabled children including non-academic and extra-curricular services and activities that afford children with disabilities an educational opportunity for participation.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Support
Throughout the years, the IDEA, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and other State and Federal regulations have made significant changes that impact the way that parents, teachers, and administrators go about the important task of working together to ensure quality education for students with disabilities. On-going consultation is available to parents and educators regarding the implementation of these regulations. In addition, SELPA provides ongoing training in the use of the online Individual Education Plan (IEP) program and IEP content workshops to assist educators and CASEMIS managers in implementing these changes and to safeguard compliance to these regulations.