The California Education Code (section 56031) defines special education as:

  • Specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, whose educational needs cannot be met with modification of the general instruction program; and
  • Related services that help individuals with special needs to benefit from specially designed instruction. Special education is an integral part of the total public education system. Other features of special education are:
    • It is provided in a way that promotes maximum interaction between students with and without disabilities in a manner which is appropriate to the needs of both;
    • Services are provided at no cost to parents;
    • It provides a full range of program options to meet the educational and service requirements of individuals with exceptional needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The LRE is generally the setting that is most similar to those attended by general education students.

Examples of Specially Designed Instruction

  • Systematically teaching a student to walk
  • Use of pictures in a lecture-type lesson
  • Use of manipulatives in an algebra lesson

Examples of Specialized Aids

  • Books on tape
  • Textbooks with enlarged print
  • Auditory training equipment
  • Communication boards
  • Adaptive switches
  • Beeper Balls
  • Footrests

Examples of Support Services

  • Collaboration and consultation with teachers and parents
  • Modified lessons
  • Job coaching
  • Functional behavior plans
  • Mobility training
  • Sign language interpreter

The IEP team, of which the parent is an important member, determines a student’s eligibility and identifies any needed program, aids, services, and instruction considered necessary for the student to progress in school. The needed program, aids, and services must be provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

Members of the student’s IEP team meet at least once a year to: 1) review the student’s progress, the IEP (i.e., program and services), and the appropriateness of the placement; and 2) to make any necessary changes in the child’s program.

Special Education is the provision of instruction, aids and services for eligible students such as:

  • Brailed Homework
  • Auditory Trainers
  • Modified Curriculum
  • Physical Assistance
  • Behavior Plans
  • Speech and Language Instruction
  • Various Accommodations
  • Adapted Physical Education
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Consultation with Various School Specialists

Remember that special education is:

  • A service, not a place
  • Not for students with learning difficulties that are due primarily to cultural or economic differences, lack of familiarity with the English language, or limited school experience. In addition, special education is not designed to meet the needs of students who have temporary physical disabilities.

Qualifying for Special Education Services

A student, ages 3 through 22, having one or more of the following 13 Federally defined disabling conditions that adversely affect his or her educational performance, may be eligible to receive special education services.

  • Autism
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Hearing Impairment (Hard of Hearing)
  • Mental Retardation
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Serious Emotional Disturbance
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech and Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment

Eligibility is determined through an assessment process that identifies one or more impairments that prevent a student from achieving at his/her potential. A student may be performing significantly below the district’s standards and additional interventions may be necessary for the student to maximize access to the educational program.

  • Qualifying for Special Education Services
    • Special Day
      • TLC
    • Resource Specialist
    • Speech and Language
    • Designated Instructional Services
      • OCC Therapy
      • Vision
      • Hearing Impaired
    • Preschool
      • Assessment Process
        • Tri Counties Regional Center (LINK)
    • Adult Services
      • Cuesta
      • Hancock
      • Cal Poly
      • Achievement House