The Ultimate Guide to Special Education

By: National School Choice Week Team

Last Upated: September 20, 2021

As a parent, you want the best education and the best future possible for your child. If he or she is being evaluated for an IEP or you’re thinking they may need some extra help in their educational journey, it can be intimidating to enter the acronym-heavy world of special education. Our mission is to empower and support you, the parent, to make the best decisions for your child’s education, no matter what type of school you choose.

So what does the term “special education” actually mean? Special education is specially designed instruction provided at no cost to a family to meet the specific needs of a child with a disability.  Whether you’re navigating the special education process with your own family or just want to better understand how special education works, we’ve created a parents guide to special education to help you along the way.

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What is Special Education?

Special Education Law

Special education, as we think of it today, has not always been accessible to students with disabilities. In fact, it wasn’t until 1975 and the Education for All Handicapped Children Act that a federal law protected the rights of students with disabilities to receive a free, appropriate public education and ensured access to a program that met their needs. The timeline below shows key pieces of legislation and court cases that have shaped special education.

 

Special education today is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This federal law makes sure students with disabilities are provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that matches their individual needs. Overall, this law’s goal is to provide kids with disabilities the same opportunities in education that their peers without disabilities have.

Project Child Find

Child Find is a part of IDEA that legally requires schools to find children who have disabilities and need special education services (hereafter referred to as ‘services’). Child Find applies to children from birth through age 21 – including those students who are being homeschooled or are in private schools (more on that in How to Continue Your IEP, Even If You Start Homeschooling). 

While the specifics vary by state and district, all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must have a process in place to identify students with disabilities regardless of their school choice. Once a student is thought to have a disability, it is the responsibility of the LEA to conduct an evaluation and make an eligibility determination. Each school district must also have a process for identifying and evaluating children who may need special education services. 

Besides identifying children who may need special education and related services, Child Find also informs parents and guardians of the services available to them.

IEP vs. 504 Plan

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans offer formal assistance for K-12 students who need extra support in school. A 504 Plan is a plan for how a school will ensure a child with a disability or impairment has the same access to the learning environment as their non-impaired peers. An IEP is a plan for a child’s special ed experience to ensure they make meaningful educational progress.

 

 

The Idaho State Department of Education offers a great Comparison of the IDEA, Section 504, and ADA Laws.

Related Services

Related Services provide extra help and support so kids can get the most benefit from their education. Often, related services are a part of the special education process. IDEA lists the following as possible related services, but this list is not exhaustive.

Speech-language and audiology services

– Interpreting services

– Psychological services

Occupational Therapy

Physical Therapy

– Counseling services

– Orientation and mobility

– Social work services

If an IEP Team sees that a child has needs in a related service area, this can be evaluated as part of the formal evaluation process. In some cases, a student’s evaluation might indicate a need only in a related service area. For example, maybe a child only needs support in the area of fine motor skills. In this situation, an IEP might be written to provide a related service only. However, federal law says it is each state’s decision whether to allow related services to stand alone on an IEP. Related services can also be provided under a 504 plan if the challenges don’t have an impact on academic learning.

The Special Education Process

While each state has its own process for special education, IDEA outlines some basic steps that’ll be the same wherever you live:

Circle flow chart outlining the 8 steps to the special education process.

1. Identify Needs

There are two ways that a student may be identified as possibly needing special ed and related services: through Project Child Find or by a referral or request for evaluation. Once a student has been identified as potentially needing services, an IEP Meeting will be scheduled where the IEP Team will review all available data and determine if they are going to conduct a formal assessment. If the decision is made to move forward with formal evaluations, parental consent is required before beginning.

2. Formal Evaluation

A formal evaluation is conducted to decide if a student has a disability that requires special education and related services. The evaluation also determines the specific areas of need and the best services for addressing that need. The evaluation that takes place must be individualized to the student and their suspected area of disability. Your State’s IDEA regulations will set the timeline for completion of the evaluation. If they do not, the federal IDEA regulations of 60 days after the parent gives consent applies.

If parents disagree with the results of the evaluation, they have the right to take their child for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). If you want to learn more about IEEs, Private Evaluations: What You Need to Know by Understood is a good resource.

3. Determine Eligibility

Once the requested evaluations have been completed, the IEP Team will schedule another meeting to review results and determine eligibility for special education and related services. The IEP Team, including the student’s parent or guardian, will sit down to review evaluation results and decide if the student is a “child with a disability” as defined by IDEA. If a child is found eligible, IDEA requires that the Team must meet to write an individualized education program (IEP) for them within 30 days.

4. Write an Initial IEP

After a child has been deemed eligible for special education and related services, the school will work with the parents to schedule an IEP meeting. The meeting invitation must state the purpose of the meeting; date, time, and location; who will be attending the meeting; and let parents know that they may also invite people to the meeting. 

At the initial IEP meeting, the IEP Team discusses the child’s needs and writes the IEP. An IEP is a legal, written document that has two general purposes. First, it sets reasonable learning goals for a student. Second, it states the services that the district will provide. The IEP’s learning goals address a student’s participation in the general education curriculum, extracurricular activities, and any nonacademic activities. 

While the format and content of an IEP varies by state and is customized for each child, IDEA outlines specific components that must be included:

– Current Performance: A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (including how their disability affects involvement and progress in the general education curriculum)

– Annual Goals: Measurable, annual goals (academic and functional)

– Measuring Progress: Description of how progress towards annual goals will be measured and when progress reports will be provided

– Special Education & Related Services: Statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids that will be provided and a description of the program modifications or supports that will be provided (including who will be providing these supports)

– Participation with Nondisabled Children: Explanation of the extent (if any) that the child will receive services in a setting other than their regular class with nondisabled peers

– Participation in State and District-Wide Assessments: Statement of individual accommodations that are needed for the child to demonstrate their knowledge on state and districtwide assessments

– Dates and Places: The projected date for the beginning of services and modifications, as well as their anticipated frequency, location, and duration

– Transition Services Needs: If the student will turn 16 during the life of the IEP, IDEA requires:

– Measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments (related to training, education, employment, and/or independent living skills)

Transition services needed to assist the student in reaching their goals

– Age of Majority: Beginning no later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law, the IEP must include a statement that they have been informed of their rights once they reach the age of majority

Prior to a school system providing any special education and related services, parental consent must be acquired. Services will begin as soon as possible once consent has been given. If parents do not agree with the IEP that has been developed, they have the right to discuss their concerns with the IEP Team. If an agreement cannot be reached, parents or the school can work through mediation or ask for assistance from their state agency. Find more information on this process in your state’s Parental Safeguards document.

5. Provide Services

Once consent has been received, the school makes sure that the IEP is carried out exactly as written. Each of the child’s teachers and service providers has access to the IEP and is made aware of their responsibilities as outlined by the IEP. 

6. Monitor Progress

The child’s teachers and service providers keep track of the progress the child makes toward educational goals. Regular progress reports are provided during the year and the results are discussed at the annual IEP review. 

7. Annual Review of IEP

At least once a year the child’s IEP is reviewed by the IEP Team. However, the IEP can be reviewed more frequently if the parents or the school request it. At the annual review, the child’s progress is discussed as the child continues to grow, and the IEP Team makes appropriate updates to the IEP. 

8. Reevaluation

At least every three years, the child must be reevaluated for continued eligibility for special education and related services and to determine the child’s educational needs. This evaluation is sometimes referred to as the “triennial.”

Special education has an overwhelming amount of information. @SchoolChoiceWk created a guide to help you navigate the process in your state. Click To Tweet

Special Education and Your School Choice

Traditional Public Schools

All traditional public schools are required to identify and provide services to students with disabilities according to IDEA law.

Public Magnet Schools

Public magnet schools are free public schools that focus on particular themes. As they are publicly funded, they are required by law to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. 

Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools that are created by school districts, colleges, nonprofit organizations, or other entities. These schools are allowed to determine many of their own policies and practices, but since charter schools are public schools, they are required by law to identify and provide services to students with disabilities.

Resources:

Online Public Schools

Online public schools are usually run by state governments, school districts, or charter schools. All online public schools are required to identify and provide services to students with disabilities according to IDEA law. 

To learn more about what special education looks like at an online public school, check out our Q&A with Sarah Betz, an online special education teacher at Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy.

Resources:

Private Schools

Special education varies widely from private school to private school. Some independent schools are designed to meet the specific needs of students with disabilities. Other private schools may offer accommodations, but not specially designed instruction. While private schools may choose to offer special education, they are not required to by law.

If a private school provides special education, it may create an Instructional Services Plan or an Individual Service Plan (ISP). An ISP is a written plan of service that outlines what will be done to meet your child’s needs.

Students with disabilities may also receive a service plan through the local education agency (LEA). IDEA law requires that all LEAs set aside funding for students with disabilities whose parents choose to send them to private school. As this money is limited, these students receive “equitable services”. Equitable services are services similar to what the student would receive in an IEP, however, often fewer services are available than what a child would receive at a public school. These services may be provided on the private school premises or transportation may be provided to the service site.

Resources:

Homeschools

States vary in terms of how much IDEA funding is set aside to provide services to students with disabilities in the private school and homeschool setting. In several states, this funding is used for private school students only. However, some states consider homeschooled students to be in “private schools”, making equitable services available to homeschoolers! A handful of states have specifically expanded the eligibility of equitable services to include homeschoolers.

In at least 31 states and the District of Columbia, homeschooled students may automatically qualify for special education services. To see what is available in your state, check out our round-up here.

DoDEA Schools

Did you know – the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) operates 160 schools in 8 districts across 11 countries, 7 states, and 2 territories serving our military families? DoDEA schools follow IDEA law to identify and provide students with disabilities with a free, appropriate education. All military families should know about the Exceptional Family Member Program which connects families to the resources and programs they’ll need as they relocate around the country and the world. They may also be eligible for the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) which provides financial assistance to beneficiaries with special needs for an integrated set of services and supplies.

DoDEA Resources:

Bureau of Indian Education Schools

All schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education are required by IDEA law to identify and provide services to students with special needs. These schools must utilize the special ed eligibility criteria and the state standards and assessment system in which they are located, in addition to the processes laid out by the Bureau of Indian Education.

Resources:

Special Education in Your State

Alabama

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Alabama all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Alabama are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Alabama have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students are not eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free.

These are some Alabama-specific resources to help you further understand school choice for students with disabilities:

Alaska

In Alaska, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Alaska are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Alaska considers homeschooled students taught via correspondence courses in the state to be privately schooled for the purposes of determining access to special education services. Read more about the rules at State of Alaska Correspondence Program Regulations. To learn more about homeschooling your student with disabilities, check out our round-up of resources!

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Alaska:

Arizona

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Arizona all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Arizona are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Arizona have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may qualify for equitable services. Parents of homeschooled children can also apply for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) and other state-run scholarships. For more information about homeschooling your students with disabilities, check out our guide!

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Arizona:

Arkansas

In Arkansas, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Arkansas are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state of Arkansas considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purpose of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may qualify for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide!

These are some Arkansas-specific resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

California

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in California all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in California are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in California have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities in California, check out our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in California:

Colorado

In Colorado, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Colorado are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Colorado considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with special needs, check out our guide!

Here are some Colorado-specific resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Colorado Department of Education Office of Special Education
  • Parent and Child Rights in Special Education: Procedural Safeguards Notice – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • PEAK Parent Center – offers an array of free and low-cost services to families of children with disabilities and self-advocates.
  • Thrive Center – The THRIVE Center exists to provide parents with information and training about disabilities; parent and children’s rights under IDEA and other laws; and resources in the Denver Metro area.
  • Disability Law Colorado – offers legal representation, information and referrals to people with disabilities, older people, and their families.
  • SWAAAC (Statewide Assistive Technology, Augmentative, and Alternative Communication) – provides multidisciplinary Assistive Technology services to provide students with disabilities equal access to the curriculum and full participation in their education and classroom.
  • Colorado Talking Book Library – CTBL provides audio, Braille, and large print books for people who can’t read standard print.
  • Parent to Parent of Colorado – an organization that connects families with their network of families across Colorado and to the resources that they need.
  • The Arc of Colorado – The Arc of Colorado promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Colorado – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Colorado.

Connecticut

In Connecticut, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Connecticut are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for student with disabilities in Connecticut:

Delaware

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools in Delaware all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Delaware are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Delaware have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students are not eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free.

These Delaware-specific resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Florida

In Florida, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Florida are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Florida considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. Parents of students with disabilities can also apply for the Gardiner Scholarship Program. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide

Here are some Florida-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for student with disabilities:

Georgia

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools in Georgia all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Georgia are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Georgia have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. In Georgia, homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide.

These Georgia-specific resources will help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Hawaii

In Hawaii, traditional public schools and charter schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Hawaii are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state of Hawaii considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide!

Here are some Hawaii-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Idaho

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Idaho all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Idaho are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Idaho have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students can dual enroll in their public school; however, under state regulations, homeschooled students may not dually enroll solely for the purpose of receiving special education services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Idaho:

Illinois

In Illinois, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Illinois are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state of Illinois considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Illinois-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Indiana

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Idaho all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Idaho are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Idaho have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students in Indiana are considered privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Indiana:

Iowa

In Iowa, traditional public schools, charter schools, online public schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Illinois are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Iowa homeschooled students taught through a program of “competent private instruction” may dual enroll in their local public school for the purposes of receiving special education services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide.

Here are some Iowa specific resources to help you understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Kansas

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, online public schools, and charter schools in Kansas all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Kansas are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Idaho have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for the cost of private school. Homeschooled students are considered as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. To find out more about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Kansas-specific resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Kentucky

Traditional public schools and magnet schools in Kentucky all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Kentucky are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Kentucky have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state of Kentucky considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Kentucky:

Louisiana

In Louisiana, traditional public schools, charter schools, online public schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Louisiana are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for services from their school district for free. 

These Louisiana-based resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Maine

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Maine all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Maine are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Maine have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services, provided that the student is enrolled in a program “recognized by the Department as providing equivalent instruction” to private schools. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Maine:

Maryland

In Maryland, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Maryland are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students in Maryland do not automatically qualify for special education services provided under IDEA, although local districts can choose to make services available. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Maryland-specific resources may help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities:

Massachusetts

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Massachusetts all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Massachusetts are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Massachusetts have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for students with disabilities in Massachusetts:

Michigan

In Michigan, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Michigan are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and may be eligible for equitable services, provided the parents have registered their homeschool with the Michigan Department of Education. For more information on homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Michigan-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Michigan Department of Education Special Education website
  • Procedural Safeguards Fact Sheet explaining the protections for students and parents under the IDEA – available in English, Spanish, and Arabic.
  • Procedural Safeguards Notice – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • Special Education Process Fact Sheet explaining the special education process including the steps from evaluation to eligibility, program, specialized instruction, and placement – available in English, Spanish, and Arabic.
  • Family Matters – Family Matters is an outreach effort from the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education to provide parents with information about special education and other resources.
  • Michigan Alliance for Families – Michigan Alliance for Families is a statewide resource to connect families of children with disabilities to resources to help improve their children’s education.
  • The Arc of Michigan – The vision of the Arc of Michigan is that all people realize and fulfill their dreams of having employment, education, meaningful relationships, and living independently within their community.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Michigan – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Michigan.

Minnesota

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Minnesota all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Minnesota are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Minnesota have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible to receive equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Minnesota-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Mississippi

In Mississippi, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Mississippi are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. Parents of students with disabilities can also apply for the Educational Savings Account program, which provides parents with funding to pay for special education services. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Mississippi:

Missouri

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in Missouri all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Missouri are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Missouri have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible to receive equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Missouri-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Montana

In Montana, traditional public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. Private schools in Montana are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Montana-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Nebraska

Traditional public schools and magnet schools in Nebraska all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Nebraska are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Nebraska have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for student with disabilities in Nebraska:

Nevada

In Nevada, traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. Private schools in Nevada are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Nevada considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Nevada-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

New Hampshire

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in New Hampshire all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in New Hampshire are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in New Hampshire have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students in New Hampshire are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for special education services provided by the school district. Parents may qualify for income-based scholarships that can fund special education services, tutoring, or homeschool expenses.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in New Hampshire:

New Jersey

In New Jersey, traditional public schools, charter schools, and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities. Private schools in New Jersey are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost to the family. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. In New Jersey, homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible to receive equitable services from their school district for free.

These New Jersey-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

New Mexico

Traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools in New Mexico all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in New Mexico are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in New Mexico have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. In New Mexico, homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in New Mexico:

New York

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools in New York all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in New York are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in New York have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state of New York considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible to receive equitable services for free. For more information about homeschooling your student with disabilities, check out our round-up here!

These are some state-specific resources to help you further understand special education and school choice in New York:

North Carolina

In North Carolina, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in North Carolina are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschool students may be eligible for special education services provided by their district for free. For more information about homeschooling your student with disabilities in North Carolina, visit our round-up here!

Here are some resources to help you further understand your school choice options for your student with a disability in North Carolina:

North Dakota

Traditional public schools in North Dakota all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in North Dakota are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in North Dakota have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschooled students are not considered as privately schooled students for the purposes of determining access to special education and are not eligible for free services from their district.

These North Dakota-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Ohio

In Ohio, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Ohio are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Ohio homeschool and private school students with disabilities are eligible for the Jon Peterson Scholarship program, which provides parents with scholarships of up to $27,000 annually in lieu of providing them with a free and appropriate public education. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Ohio-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Oklahoma

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Oklahoma all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Oklahoma are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Oklahoma have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Parents or guardians can apply for the Lindsey Nicole Henry (LNH) Scholarship to attend a participating private school. In Oklahoma, homeschooled students with disabilities are not eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Oklahoma:

Oregon

In Oregon, traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Oregon are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschool students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by the district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Oregon-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Pennsylvania

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Pennsylvania all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Pennsylvania are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Pennsylvania have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Pennsylvania homeschool students may be considered eligible for special education services provided by their local district. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Pennsylvania-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Pennsylvania Department of Education Special Education website
  • Parents’ Rights: Understanding the Procedural Safeguards Notice by the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network – available in English and Spanish.
  • Pennsylvania Parent Guide to Special Education for School-Age Children by the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network – available in English and Spanish.
  • Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) – PaTTAN provides a full array of professional development and technical assistance targeted to improving student results.
  • PEAL Center – The PEAL Center is an organization of parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs who educates and empowers families to ensure that children, youth, and young adults with disabilities and special health care needs lead rich, active lives.
  • The Arc of Pennsylvania – The Arc of Pennsylvania promotes the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Pennsylvania – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Pennsylvania.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, traditional public schools, magnet schools, and charter schools all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Rhode Island are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services and are not eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Rhode Island:

South Carolina

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in South Carolina all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in South Carolina are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in South Carolina have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement.  Parents can apply to the Exceptional Needs Children Fund to receive a scholarship towards private school if your child has a disability and you believe that the assigned public school does not meet their needs. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These South Carolina-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

South Dakota

In South Dakota, traditional public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in South Dakota are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for determining access to special education services and are not eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free.

Here are some South Dakota-specific resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Tennessee

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Tennessee all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Tennessee are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Tennessee have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide. Parents of special needs students can also apply for the Individualized Education Account program, which gives parents funds to pay for special education services. If you’re interested, you can obtain more information and an application at https://www.tn.gov/education/iea.html.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Tennessee:

Texas

In Texas, traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and online public schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Texas are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Texas-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Texas Education Agency Special Education website
  • Special Education in Texas A-Z Index – This index by the Texas Education Agency has listed many education-related topics alphabetically linking to where they are used on the TEA’s website.
  • Notice of Procedural Safeguards – available in English, Spanish, and more
  • Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Process – available in English and Spanish.
  • SPEDTex – SPEDTex provides information and resources to help parents understand their child’s disability, their rights and responsibilities under IDEA,and facilitate collaboration that supports the development and delivery of services.
  • Texas Project FIRST: Families, Information, Resources, Support & Training – Texas Project FIRST is a project of the Family to Family Network committed to providing accurate and consistent information to parents and families of students with disabilities.
  • Partners Resource Network – The Partners Resource Network is a nonprofit agency that operates the Texas statewide network of Parent Training and Information Centers that help parents understand their child’s disability; understand their rights & responsibilities; obtain and evaluate resources and services; and participate in planning services.
  • The Arc of Texas – The Arc of Texas promotes, protects, and advocates for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Texas – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Texas.

Utah

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Utah all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Utah are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Utah have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Parents of students with disabilities who would like to enroll their students in a private school can apply for the Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program (CSS) to help with tuition. Homeschooled students are not considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education and are not eligible for services by the school district for free unless they are dually enrolled in a public school.

These Utah-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Vermont

In Vermont, traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Vermont are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible to receive equitable services provided by their school district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Vermont:

Virginia

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Vermont all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Vermont are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Vermont have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by their school district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some Virginia-specific resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

Washington

In Washington, traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Washington are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Homeschooled students in Washington can receive “ancillary services” from their home district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities in Washington, visit our guide.

These Washington-state-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

West Virginia

Traditional public schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and online public schools in West Virginia all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in West Virginia are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in West Virginia have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. Homeschool students are not considered privately schooled students for determining access to special education services and are not eligible to receive equitable services from their school district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources to help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in West Virginia:

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Wisconsin are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. Local districts do not have to provide special education services to homeschooled students; however, they may choose to do so. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Wisconsin-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Special Education website
  • Part B: Procedural Safeguards Notice – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • An Introduction to Special Education by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction – available in English, Spanish, and more.
  • Special Education in Plain Language: A User-Friendly Handbook on Special Education Laws, Policies, and Practices in Wisconsin – available in English and Spanish
  • Wisconsin Statewide Parent Educator Initiative (WSPEI) – WSPEI helps families and school districts by assisting families with navigating special education and partnering with schools through technical assistance, trainings, and programs.
  • Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training, and Support (WI FACETS) – WI FACETS provides information on special education and IEPs and referrals to agencies and resources, parent support groups, parent and youth leadership development, and trainings.
  • Wisconsin Family Ties – Wisconsin Family Ties provides information and referrals, family support, education, and Parent Peer Specialists to assist families of children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders.
  • Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones – Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones is a nonprofit organization that provides educational workshops, parent support groups, family events, community building activities, and service referrals to families of children and youth with diverse abilities.
  • Arc of Wisconsin – The Arc of Wisconsin provides information and referral services, individual advocacy to address education, employment, health care and other concerns, self-advocacy initiatives, residential support, employment programs, leisure and recreational programs.
  • Autism Society of Greater Wisconsin (ASW) – The ASW builds relationships and partnerships with other community agencies with the goal of building autism friendly, inclusive communities.
  • Family Voices of Wisconsin – Family Voices of Wisconsin is a statewide network of families who have children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities by providing information, training, and leadership opportunities.
  • Well Badger Resource Center – The Well Badger Resource Center is a health information and referral program that assists in finding needed programs and services such as early intervention screening.
  • Special Needs Resource Project – Wisconsin – This list includes state links, national links, US Military links, and Native American links to resources available in Wisconsin.

Wyoming

Traditional public schools, charter schools, and online public schools in Wyoming all follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Wyoming are not required to provide special education services, but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide equitable services at no cost. Parents of school-age children in Wyoming have the right to select a private school for their student with disabilities; however, as long as the district has offered a free appropriate public education they are not responsible for tuition reimbursement. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by their school district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

Here are some resources that may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities in Wyoming:

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., traditional public schools and magnet schools follow IDEA guidance to identify and provide services to students with disabilities attending these schools. Private schools in Washington, D.C. are not required to provide special education services but can choose to offer them to their students or partner with the local LEA to provide them at no cost. Parents have the right to choose a private school for their student with disabilities; however, the district is not required to pay for tuition as long as the LEA has made a free appropriate public education available to their child. In D.C., homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services; therefore, they may be eligible for equitable services provided by their district for free. For more information about homeschooling students with disabilities, visit our guide.

These Washington, D.C.-specific resources may help you further understand school choice options for students with disabilities:

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The information in this guide to special education is designed to help families who are interested in learning more about the school choice options for students with disabilities in their state.  Our mission is to provide families with the information they need about all the school options available – traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and at home – so they can choose the right fit for their child.  Read more guides about the other types of schools.

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