Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents that meets the unique needs of a child with a disability. Specialized academic instruction can be conducted in various settings such as the classroom, the home, hospitals, institutions, and in other settings. It can also include related services such as vocational education and instruction in physical education. Children may receive special education services under one of the following eligibilities:

  • autism or autistic-like behaviors
  • deaf-blindness
  • deafness
  • emotional disturbance
  • hearing impairment
  • mental retardation (cognitive impairment)
  • multiple disabilities
  • orthopedic impairment
  • other health impairment
  • specific learning disabilities
  • speech or language impairment
  • traumatic brain injury
  • visual impairment including blindness

IEP Team: A team of professionals and parents who participate in the child's evaluation, placement determination, and decisions related to the individualized special education and related services for the child.

IEP: Individual Education Program (IEP) that contains specific content that must be reviewed at least annually, though a parent is able to request an IEP at any time. An IEP includes measurable annual goals and describes how the child will be included in state and district assessments and how the child will access the general education curriculum in order to meet state standards.

FAPE: Eligible students with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) provided at no charge to parents.

LRE: The least restrictive environment (LRE) is defined in IDEA as follows: "To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily." [PL 108-446 Sec. 612(a)(5)]

Modification: Generally, a change in expectations or what is being taught to a student. For example, reducing the difficulty of an assignment so that the student is not completing the same level or work as his or her classmates.

Accommodations: Accommodations typically assist a student in scaffolding or working around his or her disability. Accommodations are meant to create a level playing field and are not designed to reduce the level of difficulty.
To be appropriate, assessment accommodations must be identified in the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan and used regularly during instruction and classroom assessment.

Related Services: To help a child with a disability benefit from special education, he or she may also need extra help in one or more areas such as counseling, speech-language pathology, audiology or physical and occupational therapy.

Laws Relevant to Special Education in Charter Schools

The following overview of federal education laws as they pertain to special education is intended to be an orientation for those who are not familiar with this legislation and its regulations.

The federal laws and regulations that are most relevant for implementing special education are the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

IDEA provides federal financial assistance to state educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) to provide special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities. Every state receives these federal funds and must follow all of IDEA's specific guidelines, including those for an evaluation to determine if students are eligible for special education and/or related services.

Vision Core understands the importance of working with schools to improve parent involvement. VCI currently employs parent educators that provide trainings and assist in quality assurance. Parent educators maintain regular contact with families to ensure that Vision Core's high standards of special education services are met.