What is Special Education?

Special Education is a specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, whose educational needs cannot be met with modification of the regular instructional program, and related services, which may be needed to assist such individuals to benefit from specially designed instruction. The California Education Code (Section 56031).

Special education is founded upon some basic tenants. The first is the provision of 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 Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The second tenant is the provision Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). LRE is interpreted by Congress as the education of students with disabilities alongside non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible. The supports and services a child receives through an IEP should be delivered in the least restrictive environment. Once a student qualifies for Special Education services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed by the IEP team, consisting of qualified professionals, the student and the parents.

The IEP is a legal document that outlines the offer of FAPE and the provision of LRE.