Definitions and concepts
Special education is specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services or programs provided to a student with a disability (SWD) as determined by the Committee on Special Education (CSE).
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Individualized education program (IEP) means a written statement, developed, reviewed and revised in accordance with section 200.4 of the Regulations of the Commissioner, for purposes of meeting the unique educational needs of a student with a disability.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
Least restrictive environment (LRE) means that placement of students with disabilities in special classes, separate schools or other removal from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that even with the use of supplementary aids and services, education cannot be satisfactorily achieved. The placement of an individual student with a disability in the least restrictive environment shall:
Provide the special education needed by the student;
Provide for education of the student to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the student with other students who do not have disabilities; and
Be as close as possible to the student's home.
Student with a disability
Student with a disability means a student with a disability as defined in section 4401(1) of Education Law, who has not attained the age of 21 prior to September 1 and who is entitled to attend public schools pursuant to section 3202 of the Education Law and who, because of mental, physical or emotional reasons, has been identified as having a disability and who requires special services and programs approved by the department. The 13 categories of eligibility are:
Speech or language impairment
Traumatic brain injury
Visual impairment including blindness
Continuum of services
Students with disabilities shall be provided special education in the least restrictive environment, as defined in section 200.1 (cc) of the commissioner's regulations. To enable students with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled students to the maximum extent appropriate, specially designed instruction and supplementary services may be provided in the regular class. Such services may include, but are not limited to, consultant teacher services and other group or individual supplemental or direct special education instruction.
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
The term "free appropriate public education" means special education and related services that:
Have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;
Meet the standards of the State educational agency;
Include an appropriate preschool, elementary, or secondary school education in the State involved; and
Are provided in conformity with the individualized education program.
Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that secures special education services for children with disabilities from birth until high school graduation (up to age 21).
Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 ensures that a student with a disability has equal access to an education (a FAPE). After a student is determined for eligible for supports under Section 504, a multidisciplinary team creates an Accommodation Plan to support his or her needs.