You are here


Key Terms: 

Child Find:  The national law called IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, tells the state to find children who may need special education.  This means that schools can't just wait for people to tell them who those children are.  The schools must look for and find the students who need services.  The schools must also have ways to find out which children are getting special education and other services. 

Early Childhood Special Education Programs: A special education program may be provided for students through age 5. The program must be written by the IEP Team, and the teacher must be approved. (IEP means Individualized Education Program. This is a special education program written for each child.) The program must be available for at least 360 hours and 144 days of teaching. A teacher and an aide must have no more than 12 students at any one time. The teacher must not have to follow the programs of more than 24 students. Early childhood special education programs must also teach parents how to help their children learn. 

Early Childhood Special Education Services: There are services for students through age 5 that are provided outside of the classroom. These services must be provided for at least two hours each week. There must be at least 72 hours of these services during the school year. The services may be provided in school or at home. A teacher or other person with training will provide the services. Parents will be part of the program and will find out how to help their children learn.

FAPE: These letters stand for Free Appropriate Public Education. This means a child will be taught in a way that is right for him or her in a public school at no cost. Federal law requires schools to provide this free appropriate public education. The law says the state must oversee the FAPE and direct it. The FAPE must meet the state’s standards for education. This education must be offered from preschool through high school. The FAPE also must follow each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). (The IEP is a special education program written for each child.)

Free: Means at no charge. The school must provide special education and related services at no cost to parents. These services may include evaluations to see if special education is right for a child. A school district may bill Medicaid or private insurance for services provided in school.

A school district may not do any of these things:

  • May not require a parent to sign up for public benefits or insurance programs.
  • May not limit services to only the ones covered by Medicaid or insurance.
  • May not require parents to pay co-payments or deductibles.
  • May not use services that will limit lifetime benefits.
  • May not use services that take away from services needed outside of school.
  • May not use services in a way that makes parents pay more for insurance.
  • May not use services in a way that would make an insurance company cancel the insurance.
  • May not use services in a way that keeps the child from using other programs.
  • May not ask an insurance company to pay for costs unless the parent consents (agrees).

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This is a national law that the states must follow. It says each state must provide programs and services so that students with disabilities will get the right education. It also helps students and their parents protect their rights. In return, the states receive money for special education.

IDEA Related Services: These services help a child with a disability get the most from special education. The services include transportation and many others. All of these are related services:

  • Speech-language pathology services: for help with talking and learning words.
  • Audiology services: for help with hearing problems.
  • Interpreting services: for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Psychological services: may include tests and help with behavior related to learning.
  • Physical therapy: for help with muscle strength and movement.
  • Occupational therapy: for help with skills like eating, dressing, sitting, walking and writing.
  • Recreation, including therapeutic recreation: to help children with disabilities enjoy playtime and sports.
  • Early identification and assessment of disabilities in children: finding out what may cause trouble with learning as soon as possible.
  • Counseling services: advice and help for certain situations. This includes vocational rehabilitation counseling, which helps older children get ready to work and live on their own. It also includes orientation and mobility services, which help children who are blind or can’t see well.
  • Medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes: a doctor will examine the child to find out what disability causes the need for special education.
  • School health services and school nurse services: these services allow a child with a disability to attend school and get the most from special education.
  • Social work services in schools: for help with problems at home, in the community, or with behavior.
  • Parent counseling and training: helping parents understand their child’s needs and teaching them how to help their child learn.

IEP: Individualized Education Program. This is a special education program written for each child.

IEP Form: Individualized Education Program form. This form has information about a student’s IEP. It lists decisions the IEP Team members make about a child’s eligibility and services. The form is a way to list and explain goals for the student. It also lists the programs and services needed to reach those goals. This form is required for every child in special education. It’s a good tool for parents and others who care about a child’s education. Almost any concerns can be written down on this form.

Initial Evaluations: An evaluation is a way to find out if a child should receive special education. The parents must agree in writing for the child to be evaluated. The written agreement is called “consent.” If the parent refuses to consent, the school may request a hearing to order an evaluation. However, the school does not have to request a hearing. IDEA says the first evaluations must use more than one test. Also, a team of evaluators must perform the evaluations. In Michigan, the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) performs them. After the parents consent, the school has 30 school days to do the evaluation and hold an IEP Team meeting. Note that the time period starts with the parents’ consent. It does not start from the time the parents ask for the evaluation. Sometimes the school district takes too long to send the consent forms. At other times parents may take too long to sign the consent. The district then has that delay time plus 30 school days to do the evaluation.

Preschool Services: Preschool children age 3 and above may receive special education services. However, a school district might not have any preschool programs at all. In that case, the district must provide services the best way it can for each child.

Responsible Agencies:

  • Federal Agencies: These agencies are part of the U.S government (also called the federal government). The U.S. Department of Education carries out federal laws that deal with education. Under this Department is the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). OSERS is in charge of all educational and vocational (employment-related) services for people with disabilities. There are three agencies within OSERS: [[?Should there be explanation for what these three agencies do?]]
    • The Office of Special Education Programs, which carries out IDEA
    • The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)
    • The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

The federal Department of Education also includes the educational and vocational responsibilities of the Office of Civil Rights. This means it enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That act (law) says that children with a disability can’t be left out of activities just because they are disabled.

  • State Agencies: The State Board of Education sets state education policy. (Policy includes plans and methods). It also makes sure that the school districts provide special education services. Policy made by the Board is carried out by the Michigan Department of Education. That Department is in charge of all of Michigan’s education programs and services. There is a special education services division in the Department. That division carries out all special education instruction, programs and services.

Special Education: Ways of teaching and learning that meet the needs of a student with a disability. Parents do not pay for special education for their child. The child may receive special education at school, at home, in hospitals, or in other places. This also includes physical education (exercise and sports).