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Special Education

Special education provides students with identified disabilities specialized instruction designed to meet their unique learning needs, giving them the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. Special education may be best described as a purposeful intervention designed to overcome or eliminate the obstacles that keep children with disabilities from learning. In other words, it is about providing children with disabilities with individualized plans of instruction to help them succeed. In the United States, special education is delivered, free of charge, through the public education system, thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA covers children from the age of 3 through high school (or the age of 21, whichever comes first).

To qualify, children must fall under one of the 13 disabilities identified by IDEA:

  • Autism
  • Deafness
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Visual impairment, including blindness
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Orthopedic impairments
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Other health impairment, including ADHD
  • Specific learning disability, including (among others) dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia

To determine eligibility, Russell Byers Charter School will conduct a multidisciplinary team evaluation of every child who is thought to have a disability. The multidisciplinary team is a group of professionals who are trained in and experienced with the testing, assessment, and observation of children to determine whether they have disabilities and, if so, to identify their primary educational strengths and needs. Parents are also members of the multidisciplinary team. Children eligible for IDEA must have a diagnosis for one or more of the above-named disabilities and, because of that disability, require special accommodations to make academic progress. Although, the legal definitions of these disabilities, which the public schools are required to apply under the IDEA, may differ from those used in medical or clinical practice.

A child’s specific needs dictate what is taught in special education. Some children with disabilities require intensive, systematic instruction to achieve success in daily living, school, community, and work settings, while other children must be taught skills to compensate for the existence of a disability. Others just need special accommodations and learn right alongside their general education peers in regular classrooms. Most special education takes place in the general education classroom – consistent with IDEA’s goal of providing children with disabilities special education services in the least restrictive environment.

For any additional information please contact Tracey Lank, Director of Special Education, at tlank@byerschool.org.
Photo: Sam Nagel
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