Under Special Education law, school districts must provide students with a disability a free and appropriate public education. Special Education and related services include preschool through secondary education and conform to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Special Education must be provided in the least restrictive environment, which means that to the extent appropriate, students with disabilities will be educated with students who do not have disabilities.
Eligible disabilities include, but are not limited to, sensory or orthopedic impairments, intellectual disability, serious emotional disturbance, certain learning disabilities and health conditions. Children with autism and traumatic brain injury are also eligible for Special Education under Federal law. Special Education services are available to children who meet these criteria if they are between the ages of three and 18 (or until 22 under certain circumstances).
There are early educational opportunities available to children under 3 who have disabilities but are not regional center-eligible, and who are developmentally delayed or at risk of delay. Children with special needs, ages 3 to 6, who were served by the Early Start Program, are able to enter public school programs as preschoolers if they satisfy the eligibility criteria. The Service Coordinator participates in developing the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).