Special Needs Resources
At private schools: Some private schools do provide services for special needs students, and we provide info on those schools’ profile pages where they have provided it to us. And, because of legislation passed in 2016, parents of some special needs children can apply for a new state program that allows you to use the state’s public education funding for your child (about $6,000 in most places) to help pay for private services. The catch? You give up your right to a spot in a public school. All the details (and there are a lot) can be found on the state’s Individualized Education Account page.
At public schools: All students in public schools (including charter schools) in Tennessee who qualify for special education services have certain rights by law. While special education law is lengthy and complex, there are three main things guaranteed to all special education students:
- A Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), which may comprise of education in regular classes, education in regular classes with the use of related aids and services, or special education and related services in separate classrooms for all or portions of the school day.
- An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a plan created by a team of the child’s parents, educators and others participating in the child’s care or education that defines how a disabled child will receive a free, appropriate public education.
- Placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), meaning that a child should be educated to the greatest extent possible with children who are not disabled.
You, as the parent of a child with a disability, must be given the opportunity to participate in meetings with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child, and the provision of FAPE to the child.
More on Special Education
Special education gets much more complicated and technical than we can get into here, but here are some frequently asked questions:
- If the amount or type of services to be provided will change from what was provided at the prior school, an IEP team meeting is required. Changes must be based on data.
- The services outlined in the current IEP must be provided until the IEP changes following a meeting.