Tag: special education

The Ultimate Guide to Special Education

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.

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 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.

Online Services

For over 20 years, online education for students with disabilities has been occurring. Currently, over 38 states have online instruction! These online schools provide special education and related services by using small group or individualized online instruction, delivery of specialized content virtually, and other related services as indicated by the students’ needs. 

Here are some articles and resources that have been shared about effective online learning and special education services:   

CEC and eLuma: Best Practices for Educating Online

Suggestions to Help Autistic People Get Through This Pandemic

Online Instruction Can (and Does) Work for Students with Disabilities 

When Children with ADHD attend School from Home: An Expert’s Tips

Occupational Therapy and E-learning: Resources, Activities, and Next Steps

Schools can utilize online learning tools, innovative staffing models, and community partnerships to address the needs of students with disabilities and other children facing unique learning obstacles or emotional challenges.

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 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:

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. As of 2021, homeschooled students may be eligible for some special education services provided by their school district. For more information regarding homeschooling students with disabilities, check out our guide

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 Family Empowerment Scholarship. 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 Indiana 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. Parents of students who wish to attend private schools can also apply for the Educational Savings Account program, which provides parents with funding to pay for special education services. 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. 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 in the Individualized Education Account program, you can obtain more information and an application at the Tennessee Department of Education.

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. However, starting in 2024, the Utah Fits All Scholarship will provide flexible funding for families choosing to enroll in a nonpublic school option, like homeschooling. Families can use this funding for customized learning needs, including occupational, behavioral, physical, audiology, or speech-language therapies.

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. In some cases, Vermont homeschool students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. While not strictly required by law, some districts elect to provide special education services to homeschoolers through a Services Plan. 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 Virginia 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:

National Resources


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.

How to Continue Your IEP, Even if You Start Homeschooling

So, special education + homeschool? If you’re new to homeschooling and your child had special needs services in their prior public school, you are likely wondering how to continue accessing and paying for the services and therapies that they need in your new learning environment.

The good news is that there are more options than you may know to administer and cover the costs of special needs students’ services while homeschooling. That’s why this post compiles state rules about special education funding for homeschool students, along with links to other special education homeschool resources.

For more information about special education and school choice, including a summary of the special education process, check out our Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Good news: There are many ways that homeschool students can access and have costs covered for special needs services and therapies.

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How Funding Works for Special Needs Students

A brief history of how funding for special needs students works will help explain your options. If you just want to know if funding is available in your state, for your child, go ahead and skip right to the state specifics.

Funding for special needs services is provided by IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Some of it is distributed by the federal government, and some of it is distributed by state governments. For the purposes of your son or daughter, the state funding will be the biggest factor in whether you can access the services you need as a homeschool or private school student. As in many other areas of education policy, each state goes about this differently.

In general, here are a few factors to consider:

First, states vary in terms of how much IDEA funding they set aside for these services, so the more your state does, the better off you are.

Second, in most states, these services are provided for private school students only. But, some states consider homeschooled students to be in “private schools,” which makes them eligible.

Third, in a handful of states, lawmakers have specifically expanded the eligibility of these services to homeschoolers alongside private schoolers.

Historically, some homeschoolers have been hesitant to take their districts up on these free services because of desires to be fully independent from the public school district. But times have changed, and as the number of homeschoolers scales up, so does the diversity of reasons people have chosen it. So, these services are more relevant than ever.

special-needs-student-at-the-school-of-hope-in-nc

State Services for Special Needs Homeschoolers

We’ve done our homework to find out the eligibility and availability in each state so you can determine whether you’d like to request services through your public school district. In more than 30 states and the District of Columbia, homeschooled students may automatically qualify for special education services. Scroll to your state in the list below to read up on your options.

You can also click on your state in the map below to find your state’s rules about IDEA funding for homeschooled students and private school students.

Special Education for Homeschoolers In Your State

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

Alabama:

In Alabama, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students taught as part of a church school are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. You can reach out to your local district for more information, or read directly about Alabama’s rules for special education at Alabama Code Title 16.

Alaska:

Alaska homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students taught via correspondence courses in the state are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at State of Alaska Correspondence Program Regulations.

Arizona:

Arizona homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services.

Alternatively, parents of homeschooled children can apply for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to access 90% of the funding their district would have received for their child. Parents who receive ESAs cannot access special education services from their local districts, but can have educational expenses for their child reimbursed from the ESA. Families of students wishing to access special education services through their district should contact their local district. Parents of students wishing to use the ESA option can find more information and apply at the Arizona Department of Education.

Read more about the rules at Arizona Special Education Standards.

Arkansas:

Arkansas homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Soon, parents of homeschooled children will have another option to consider: Education Freedom Accounts (EFAs). Arkansas’ new EFA program allows parents to access 90% of the funding their district would have received for their child. Parents who receive EFAs can have educational expenses for their child reimbursed from the EFA. As of 2023, the EFA program is not yet open to homeschoolers. But by 2025, homeschoolers will be able to participate and use funding to cover services from accredited practitioners for students with disabilities.

Read more about the rules at Arkansas Homeschool Law.

California:

California homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at California Special Education Resources.

Colorado:

Colorado homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at Colorado Office of Special Education.

Connecticut:

In Connecticut, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

You can read directly about the rules for special education at the Connecticut Department of Education.

Delaware:

In Delaware, homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. As of 2021, the state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at Delaware Administrative Code Title 14.

Florida:

Florida homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students may be considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Families can reach out to their local district to see what special education services are offered and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Parents of special needs children also have the option of applying for the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program for Students with Unique Abilities, which provides funds that parents can dedicate towards special education services. Parents interested in the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program can contact the state’s two scholarship-funding organizations: Step Up for Students and A.A.A. Scholarships.

In 2023, Florida established a new method for obtaining an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This makes it easier for students who’ve never attended public school to be eligible for the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities. School districts will now be able to use evaluation reports from other licensed professions to develop services needed for non-public students who do not yet have an IEP. 

Read more about the rules at the Florida Department of Education’s FAQ.

Georgia:

Georgia homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Georgia Department of Education.

Hawaii:

Hawaii homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the State of Hawaii Board of Education.

Idaho:

Idaho students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students can dual enroll in their public school; however, under state regulations, homeschooled students may not dually enroll solely for the purposes of receiving special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information and to see what special education services are offered.

Read more about the rules at the Idaho State Board of Education.

Illinois:

Illinois students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Illinois State Board of Education.

Indiana:

Indiana students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Alternatively, as of 2022, parents of eligible homeschooled children can apply for Educational Scholarship Accounts, which allow parents to access 90% of the funding their district would have received for their child. Parents who receive ESAs can have approved educational expenses for their child reimbursed from the ESA. Parents of students wishing to use the ESA option can find more information and apply at the Indiana Department of Education.

Finally, all parents that homeschool can deduct up to $1,000 of approved educational expenses on their tax returns each year.

Read more about the rules at Indiana’s Special Education Guide.

Iowa:

In some cases, Iowa students in home or private school are considered eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students taught through a program of “competent private instruction” may dual enroll in their local public school for purposes of receiving special education services. Homeschooled students taught through a program of “independent private instruction” may NOT dual enroll in their local school to receive special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district to assess their homeschooling options and see what special education services are offered.

Read more about the rules at Iowa’s Private Education Handbook.

Kansas:

Kansas students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at Kansas’ Parent Guide to Special Education.

Kentucky:

Kentucky students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Kentucky Department of Education’s Non-public or Private School Information.

Louisiana:

Louisiana homeschool students using the home-study option are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students using the private school option may be eligible for some special education services, but such services are not guaranteed. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

Read more about the rules at the BESE-Approved Home Study Program Guidelines.

Maine:

Maine students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. 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. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations.

Maryland:

Maryland homeschool or private school students may or may not be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students do not automatically qualify for special education services provided under the IDEA, but local districts can choose to make services available if they wish. Parents can reach out to their local district to see if special education services are offered for them.

Read more about the rules at the Maryland State Department of Education.

Massachusetts:

Massachusetts students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can contact their local district to request special education services.

Read more about the rules at the Massachusetts Department of Education.

Michigan:

Michigan students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Before receiving such services, parents must first register their homeschool with the Michigan Department of Education. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Michigan Department of Education.

Minnesota:

Minnesota homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Minnesota Department of Education.

Mississippi:

Mississippi homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Families can reach out to their local district to see what special education services are offered and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Alternatively, parents of special needs students who wish to attend private schools can apply for Mississippi’s Educational Savings Account program, which provides eligible families with funding dollars with which they can purchase special education services. If you are interested in the ESA program, you can find more information and apply at the Mississippi Department of Education.

Read more about special education in your state at the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Special Education.

Missouri:

Missouri homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Alternatively, homeschool families in charter counties or cities with more than 30,000 residents may be eligible for the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Program. This program provides eligible families with funding dollars with which they can purchase a variety of educational expenses, including educational therapies. You can learn more about this program at the Missouri State Treasurer website.

Read more about the rules at the Missouri Revisor of Statutes.

Montana:

Montana homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Alternatively, Montana students with special needs who are switching from public school to a nonpublic option in 2024 may be eligible for the state’s new education savings account program. The Montana Special Needs Equal Opportunity Education Savings Account Program provides families with up to $8,000 in funding dollars for flexible educational and therapeutic uses.

Read more about the rules at the Montana Office of Public Instruction’s Special Education Guidelines.

Nebraska:

Nebraska homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Nebraska Department of Education’s Homeschool FAQ.

Nevada:

Nevada homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Nevada Legislature.

New Hampshire:

In New Hampshire, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services.

However, districts may not enact policies regarding curricular courses or co-curricular activities that restrict homeschooled students more than public school students. In addition, parents of special needs children may qualify for income-based scholarships and Education Freedom Accounts (EFA) that can fund special education services, tutoring, or homeschooling expenses.* Parents can reach out to their local district for more information. Parents interested in applying for scholarships to fund their child’s special education services can reach out to The Children’s Scholarship Fund, one of the state’s approved scholarship organizations.

Read more about the rules at the General Court of New Hampshire.

*It’s important to note that in New Hampshire, parents schooling children at home can qualify for, and use, EFAs, but participation in an EFA means agreeing to different rules than those that apply to traditional homeschooling in the state. Confusing as that may sound, it’s important for parents to review requirements for things like record keeping, learning assessments, and more. You can find out the key differences between at-home learning using an EFA and homeschooling using Granite State Home Educators’ detailed guide

New Jersey:

In New Jersey, homeschooled students are generally NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information. There may be some cases in which a district might elect to provide services, even though not strictly required by state law.

Read more about the rules at the New Jersey Department of Education.

New Mexico:

In new Mexico, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

Read more about the rules at the State of New Mexico’s Public Education Department.

New York:

New York homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents should contact their local district to request services by June 1, or within 30 days of moving districts or the identification of a child’s disability. As of 2019, the New York State Education Department requires homeschool students with special education needs to be vaccinated to receive services on public school grounds.

Read more about the rules at the New York State Education Department.

North Carolina:

At the discretion of individual school districts, North Carolina homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their district for free.

Alternatively, homeschooled students can qualify for an Educational Savings Account for students with disabilities of up to $9,000, which can reimburse special education services provided outside the home. Parents should contact the state agency to request additional details and to apply.

Read more about the rules at the NC State Education Assistance Authority.

North Dakota:

North Dakota homeschool students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

Read more about the rules at the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Ohio:

Ohio homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education testing provided by their school district for free. However, homeschooled students are usually NOT eligible for other special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

Another option for families is the Jon Peterson Scholarship program, which provides parents with scholarships of up to $27,000 annually, in lieu of providing special needs students a free and appropriate public education. Homeschooled children qualify for the scholarship, provided they have an IEP. Scholarship funds can cover education and services outlined in the IEP. Only 5% of special needs children statewide can receive Jon Peterson scholarships; if demand outstrips supply, a lottery will determine recipients. Parents should 1) contact their district to obtain an IEP for their child and 2) research qualified providers under the Jon Peterson program, who can apply for the scholarship on behalf of the child. Similarly, Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program provides vouchers for education services from private providers. Homeschool students with autism spectrum disorders can be be eligible to participate.

Read more about the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program and Autism Scholarship Program.

Oklahoma:

In Oklahoma, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

But, starting in January 2024, all homeschool families in Oklahoma can apply for a refundable income tax credit. The credit will cover $1,000 of qualified learning expenses, including academic tutoring, textbooks, and instructional materials.

Read more about the rules at the Oklahoma Special Education Handbook.

Oregon:

Oregon homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. According to the Oregon Department of Education, “School districts are obligated to identify all children within their boundary, including children who are homeschooled. Whether or not to provide services to homeschooled students is a district decision.” Parents can reach out to their local district to see what special education services are offered and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about Oregon’s rules at the Assessment of Homeschool Students with Disabilities.

Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students may be considered eligible for special education services provided by the local district. Parents can reach out to their local district to see whether special education services are offered.

Read more about the rules at the Pennsylvania Bureau of Special Education.

Rhode Island:

In Rhode Island, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

Read more about the rules at the Rhode Island Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities.

South Carolina:

South Carolina homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the South Carolina Department of Education.

South Dakota:

In South Dakota, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information.

Read more about the rules at the South Dakota Legislature.

Tennessee:

Tennessee homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. According to the Tennessee Department of Education, for example, “The school district is responsible for providing equitable services to home school students who are determined eligible as a child with a disability. This is accomplished through a “services plan” and is generally a type of related service, such as speech therapy, as determined by the school district where the student is registered to home school.” Read more about the rules at the Tennessee Department of Education, or reach out to your local district to start the process of constructing an IEP.

Alternatively, parents of special needs students can apply for the Individualized Education Account program, which gives parents funds to pay for special education services. If you’re interested in the Individualized Education Account program, you can obtain more information and an application at the Tennessee Department of Education.

Texas:

Texas homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Texas Education Agency.

Utah:

In Utah, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are considered NOT privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. However, homeschooled students can dually enroll in a public school, in which case the student can qualify for special education services consistent with an IEP. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information and to see what special education services may be available.

Also, a new scholarship open to all Utah students will launch for the 2024-2025 school year: the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program. This education savings account program will give $8,000 in flexible education funding to families choosing to enroll in a nonpublic school option, like homeschooling. Families can use this funding for customized learning needs, including occupational, behavioral, physical, audiology, or speech-language therapies.

Read more about the rules at the Utah State Board of Education’s Special Education Rules.

Vermont:

In some cases, Vermont homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. While not strictly required by law, some districts elect to provide special education services to homeschoolers through a Services Plan. Parents can reach out to their local district for more information and to see what special education services may be available.

Read more about the rules at the Vermont Agency of Education.

Virginia:

Virginia homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents can reach out to their local district to see what special education services are offered and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at Virginia’s Legislative Information System.

Washington:

Washington homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students can receive “ancillary services” from their home district as part-time students. Among other things, these include “counseling, psychological services, testing, remedial instruction, speech and hearing therapy, health care services, tutorial services such as home or hospital instruction for the physically disabled, and sports activities.” Parents can ask their local district about”ancillary services” the districts provide under state law. An IEP is not required.

Read more about the rules at Washington’s State Laws Regulating Home-Based Instruction.

West Virginia:

In West Virginia, homeschooled students are NOT eligible for special education services to be provided by their school district for free. Homeschooled students are NOT considered privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services.

However, children entering kindergarten or who previously attended public schools can qualify for the Hope Scholarship Program. This program allows parents to receive and direct their child’s education dollars to the homeschool curriculum and other qualifying learning expenses they value most. Parents can learn more at Hope Scholarship WV.

Read more about the rules at West Virginia’s Regulations for the Education of Students with Exceptionalities.

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. Local districts do not have to provide special education services to homeschooled students; however, they may do so. Parents can reach out to their local district to see if special education services are offered in their area.

Read more about the rules at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Wyoming:

Wyoming homeschool or private school students may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Wyoming Department of Education.

Washington, D.C.

In D.C., students in home or private school may be eligible for special education services provided by their school district for free. The state considers homeschooled students as privately schooled students for purposes of determining access to special education services. Parents, you can reach out to your local district to see what special education services it offers and begin the process of constructing an IEP.

Read more about the rules at the Special Education Programs & Resources Guide for Families.

More Resources

For more, we recommend checking out the great resources available from HSLDA and SPED Homeschooling as well as active Facebook groups on the subject, like Special Needs Homeschooling.

Your Free, Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling
private-school-guide-featured-image

Is there a helpful resource you are using to navigate special needs services as a homeschooler? Email us your tips on special education and homeschool: info@schoolchoiceweek.com.

As a recent article published by USA Today phrased it, educators and students are in the midst of a “huge educational experiment.”  To date, all 50 states have closed for at least a short period of time; some have even taken the step to close for the rest of the academic year.  In many cases, public-school instruction has now shifted into the online learning format. 

In making this transition, schools are working through what online learning looks like and how to include all students.  Students with disabilities have services that are guaranteed to be delivered by law included in their IEP. How can schools effectively provide special education via online learning? [bctt tweet=”During the time of COVID-19, there’s an expansion of free online resources available to educate students with disabilities. #TeacherTipsCovid19 #ParentsAreTheNewTeachers” username=”schoolchoicewk”]

As a former special education teacher, I know firsthand how much work it takes to keep all the balls in the air on a day-to-day basis.  Shifting that entire process online is a monumental task! Here at National School Choice Week, we have gathered resources into one spot to help with this transition. Of course, we are not legal experts, and the guidance listed herein may not be exhaustive as the situation is evolving on a daily basis. Our goal is to provide a helpful jumping off point for educators as they tackle this new challenge.

If you have homeschool friends wondering what special education services are available to them, you can share the state-by-state rules we’ve put together at “How to Continue Your IEP, Even If You Start Homeschooling.” 

Jump to a section:

Federal Guidance

State Guidance

Instruction, Accommodations, & Modifications

Tips & Tricks

More Resources

 

 

Federal Guidance

Like teachers across the country, administrators are also trying to figure out how to navigate online learning and special education  The U. S. Department of Education has created a central website where they are housing all of the information that is being pushed out to schools.

On March 21, 2020 the Department of Education released a Supplemental Fact Sheet about serving children with disabilities.  Here are a few key points that answered questions I had when thinking about transitioning service delivery to a virtual model:

How do we deliver instruction? – This document reiterates that all school districts must provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), however, delivery of FAPE in the current environment may include special education and related services being conducted through distance instruction provided virtually, online, or telephonically.

What do virtual modifications look like? – Modifications (such as extended time, videos with captioning,  and accessible reading materials) and many speech or language services can be given through video conferencing.  

What happens if we can’t provide instruction? – If schools are unable to provide services due to the global pandemic, the individual IEP teams will need to make the determination if, and to what extent, students are owed compensatory (make-up) services once school resumes.

We have IEP/Evaluation due dates coming up – what do we do? Additionally, this document provides guidance regarding IDEA Timelines and possible extensions to timelines during school closure to COVID-19.

 

Click on the circles in the graphic below to see the different guidance documents that have been published regarding serving children with disabilities.

 

 

 

Understood has also published a post discussing the legal FAQs related to school closing and special education in collaboration with Lindsay Jones of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

 

State Guidance

Just like the U.S. Department of Education, each state’s education department has their own guidelines for the schools in their state for special education during COVID-19.  While all states have to follow the federal guidelines that have been released, they also are providing specifics to their educators.  

For example, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has released an Exceptional Children Division Update informing their schools to keep a log of services that are not provided (with dates) and conduct IEP Team meetings through alternate means of communication.  Regarding instruction, if the students continue to be given direct instruction by an EC teacher through online mediums it is unlikely compensatory education will be required.  If the school determines that they will continue learning through packets of work without direct instruction from trained staff then compensatory instruction will be needed (even if the packets are based on IEP goals).  This guidance expands on the information being provided by the federal government and provides specifics for NC educators.  

Many states have housed information regarding serving students with disabilities on their websites.  We have gone through and found where that information is located for each of the 50 states.

Click on your state in the map below to see what your state guidelines are!

 

 

 

Instruction, Accommodations, & Modifications

For over 20 years, online education for students with disabilities has been occurring.  Currently, over 30 states have online instruction!  These online schools provide special education and related services by using small group or individualized online instruction, delivery of specialized content virtually, and other related services as indicated by the students needs.  

For instance, Virginia Virtual Academy is one school who is already providing public education online.  VAVA is a tuition-free, online public school that provides a personalized course program, taught by certified teachers, and a vibrant school community.  They provide their online learning students with disabilities instruction from special education teachers according to their IEP.  Related services, if required, are provided in a virtual therapy room.  

Virginia Virtual Academy has developed best practices for online education for students with disabilities.
Photo courtesy of Virginia Virtual Academy.

This presentation from the Alabama State Department of Education Virtual Schools Webinar offers many examples of what specially designed instruction (SDI) could look like in the virtual setting.  They make suggestions such as: using virtual meetings to provide instruction, the use of verbal/picture/visual prompts & cues, teaching relaxation & breathing techniques, and counseling.  Do you have a student with social skills needs? They suggest using social stories to show examples and generate responses.

Importantly, one consideration to keep in mind is confidentiality.  Whatever route you and your school choose to continue to provide instruction to students with disabilities, make sure that it maintains student data privacy.

You can also have technology provide accommodations for you as you navigate online learning and special education! 

Many devices, including Mac/iPad, Windows, Android, and Chromebook, provide digital modifications that can help your students access the text that is on the screen.  Capti is a Text to Speech Anywhere program (with a free account) that accommodates those with special needs and provides reading accommodations to all.  As a bonus, Capti integrates with many of the LMS systems you are already using (Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, and more)!  

There are over 30 Chrome web extensions that can assist students with accessing their instruction.  The extensions help with text to speech (read aloud of text), readability (remove distractions, change fonts, color overlays), reading comprehension (dictionary, summarizing, auto highlighting), focus (remove distractions, provide pre-determined breaks), and navigation (click-free browsing, keyboard shortcuts).

 

Tips and Tricks

One thing that continues to inspire me is the way that educators band together to help each other out.  The education community has pulled together to make sure that all classrooms making the transition have what they need by sharing resources, advice, and providing encouragement.  Here are some articles and resources that have been shared about effective online learning and special education services:   

CEC and eLuma: Best Practices for Educating Online

Suggestions to Help Autistic People Get Through This Pandemic

Online Instruction Can (and Does) Work for Students with Disabilities 

When Children with ADHD attend School from Home: An Expert’s Tips

Occupational Therapy and E-learning: Resources, Activities, and Next Steps

 

Are you already providing special education services virtually?  Have you run across a helpful resource while transitioning online?  Email us your tips on online learning and special education: info@nscwmainstage.wpengine.com 

 

Online education for students with disabilities is an important consideration during COVID-19.

 

More Resources

(If you are looking for content area resources, check out this page with 100+ Free Online Resources for Schools.)

 

AAC Language Lab – Special Education Resources

The AAC Language Lab offer real-life solutions in support of language development for students who use augmentative and alternative communication.  Interactive materials have been designed for Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs), Educators and Parents.  With over 50 years of experience in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) PRC-Saltillo is pleased to offer this unique online resource.

Free Services Offered: Free 2-month subscription

How to Use: Create an account, under the My Account tab go to Purchase for Myself and select Free 2 Month Trial under the Language Lab purchase options.

 

ASL eBooks and Resources

This is an ongoing compilation of free resources available online, and this document will be continually updated with new links.  New resources will be added to the TOP of the appropriate category for easy visibility. Here are the categories of resources: Temporary Free Resources, ASL Storybook Readings by age, ASL Storytelling, Basic ASL & Vocabulary, Deaf Culture, Preschool – Grade 8 Breakdowns, ASL Songs, Science, Social Studies, ELA, and For Parents.

Free Services Offered: Ongoing free list of resources.

How to use: Visit the Google Doc today!

 

AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom – Special Education Resources

AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom offers a range of resources designed for AAC implementation.  The materials provided can be used to teach and model core words throughout the day.  You will find materials such as printable core word displays, planners for teaching core words during common activities, Core Word of the Week planners and displays, and resources & references for AAC implementation.  There is also a section of the website dedicated to using core words at home.

Free Services Offered: Always free

How to Use: Visit the AssistiveWare website to create your free account today.  

 

Attainment

Attainment is offering free web-based subscriptions for their research-based literacy programs: ELSB (Early Literacy Skills Builder), ELSB for Older Students, ERSB (Early Reading Skills Builder), Access Language Arts, and Access Language Arts: WRITE.  Digital content retrieval is available through the new Attainment Hub website.

Free Services Offered: Free, 90-day web-based subscriptions for the literacy programs.

How to Use: For more information, email info@attainmentcompany.com

 

Autism Little Learners – Coronavirus Social Narrative

The website has a simple social story to help children understand the changes in their routines and the anxiety in the adults around them.  This social story is available in English and Spanish.

Free Services Offered: Free Social Story

How to Use: Visit the Autism Little Learners website to download today.

 

Boardmaker

To help educators, parents, and learners during this time of need, the Tobii Dynavox team has gathered their resources and created Coronavirus materials within them.  There are resources for Communicating about Coronavirus: topic pages for Snap Core First, activities and resources, videos to get started, and Hospital Intensive Care Unit Communication Resources.  You can also access these resources: Pathways (free Snap Core First companion App), 30-day free trial to Boardmaker Online and Boardmaker Activities-to-Go (free, ready-made activities).

Free Resources Offered: Communication Materials, Activities to go, and a free trial to Boardmaker.

How to Use: Visit the Boardmaker website.

 

Capti

Capti is a text to speech anywhere platform.  You can sign up for a free account that has the following features: text to speech for reading; speech tracking word by word; fonts, colors, masking, etc.; cross-device sync; screen-reader accessibility; advanced text navigation; and offline use.  A Chrome Browser Extension applies these features to any webpage and allows the import of articles/text/images/documents to Capti. You can save to Capti from links, phone, computer, Drive, Dropbox, Bookshare, Project Gutenberg as rich text format.  

Free Services Offered: Free Account

How to Use: Visit the Capti website and sign up for a personal use account today.

 

Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities

The challenge of the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities is to address learner variability by conducting research to make online learning more accessible, engaging, and effective for students with disabilities, for whom traditional forms of education have been only moderately successful and the precipitous growth in online instruction threatens to exclude.  To address these issues, the Center will assume a leadership role in conducting research and building a network of research collaborators representing a wide array of disciplines whose expertise impacts learner outcomes.

Free Resources Offered: Publications and Resources (UDL Scan Tool, VPAT List, State Policy Guide, and Resource Documents)

How to Use: Visit the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilites website.

 

Control Alt Achieve

This website offers a list of Chrome extensions for students with special needs.  The blog lists over 30 Chrome web extensions that can assist students in five main categories. These are: text to speech, readability, reading comprehension, focus, and navigation.

Free Services Offered: Free list of Chrome Extensions

How to Use: Visit the Control Alt Achieve website to find installation links.

 

Double Time Docs

Double Time Docs is an online software that helps you write your Pediatric Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy evaluation reports very quickly. You simply answer multiple choice, fill-in and short answer questions and your fully-written report is generated automatically. Double Time Docs recently started offering access to their software completely free for the 2020-21 school year for school district and private clinics.

Free Services Offered: Free use of the platform; unlimited credits for schools; 3 free credits for individuals (more available upon request).

How to Use: Visit the Double Time Docs website to register today!

 

Didax

Didax has a whole host of virtual manipulatives available online to enhance at-home learning.  Additionally, if you want to use the tools within your online learning platform, they can be embedded using the iframe command.  You can download the iframe texts for each of the tools by following the link on their website.

Free Services Offered: Always Free!

How to Use: Visit the Didax website today to start using these tools!

 

Glean Start Coaches Newsletter

List of resources to help special education students and families during home learning.  Resources are available in the following categories: visuals & social stories, parent guides, language arts & reading, math, additional academic resources, and social skills/social emotional skills. 

Free Resources Offered: Free read!

 

Guide to starting Home Learning for Parents of kids & teens with autism

The Teachers Pay Teachers account Curriculum for Autism, run by Kristen who is a single mom to a young adult with autism, has a free guide to starting home learning for parents of kids & teens with autism.  This guide provides support and reassurance as parents start having to educate their child/children at home.

Free Services Offered: Free Guide

How to Use: Download today from Teachers Pay Teachers (you will need to sign up for a free account).

 

Helperbird

Helperbird is a browser extension that gives you features to help make websites accessible.  The extension includes features such as dyslexic fonts, an immersive reader layout, changing of font sizes, screenshots, reader mode, Google Translate (over 23 languages), color blindness underline, and color blindness text stroke.  Works on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Free Services Offered: Free download of the extension.

How to Use: Visit the Helperbird website to download today.

 

PresenceLearning

PresenceLearning is a teletherapy platform that has been designed by clinicians for clinicians to serve K-12 students with special needs.  There is a full therapy command center, dynamic camera and video modes to focus on multiple types of intervention, synchronized collaborative work-space, and an evidence-based/user-generated content library.  PresenceLearning has made their teletherapy platform available for onsite school clinicians to continue serving students at home during school closures.

How to Use: Fill out the form to schedule a conversation about how they can help during COVID-19 related school closures.

 

READTOPIA – Special Education Resources

Readtopia is a special education instructional program designed for teachers who work with middle and high school students with autism and other complex needs.  It serves as an integrated comprehensive reading curriculum across several domains of study including ELA, Math, Social Studies, Life Skills, and Science.  Readtopia uses Integrated Thematic Units to bring together all subject areas and skill development and provides graphic novels that are written at seven levels (but the cover is the same!) to help you differentiate. 

Free Resources Offered: Free Mini Thematic Unit (one month of content)

How to Use: Visit the READTOPIA website and sign up for a free trial. 

 

Special Education with Pat

Pat Noonan is a special education teacher from Methuen, MA, who has launched a YouTube channel dedicated to putting out weekly videos for students with autism and intellectual disabilities.  The videos incorporate Boardmaker pictures into a familiar TV show format that students enjoy (think Blue’s Clues, Dora the Explorer, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, etc).  Each video comes with 3 companion worksheets that are linked in the video description.

Free Services Offered: Free videos and downloadable worksheets.

How to Use: Visit Pat’s YouTube Channel to watch the videos, the links to the worksheets are in the video description!

 

Special Needs for Special Kids

This site is the home for a remote learning experience for students with moderate and severe disabilities.  Until this current crisis ends, the site will provide quality lessons and activities for teachers and parents to utilize.  There are currently 3 modules available, each lasting for 2 instructional weeks. Should there still be a need the next series of modules will be uploaded March 30, 2020.

Free Services Offered: Three free two-week modules teaching Maps and Globes, Levels of Organization: an Introduction to Biology, and Because of Winn Dixie

How to Use: Visit the Special Needs for Special Kids website and sign up!

 

Stages Learning Language Builder ARIS Curriculum

Stages Learning is giving free lessons, materials, activity sheets, data tracking sheets, behavior management tools, and a basic overview of how to use the system to those who are working with children with autism or other special needs at home.  These materials are a sampling of lessons and are 100% free to families.

Free Services Offered: ARIS Emergency Home Education Program Overview, Language Builder ARIS Manual – Abbreviated for Home Use, 34 Downloadable Lesson Plans for Early Autism Education, and 56 Language Builder Picture Cards for Download.  

How to Use: Visit the Stages Learning website to download today.

 

Tar Heel Reader

Tar Heel Reader is a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics.  Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces. These include touch screens, the IntelliKeys with custom overlays, and 1 to 3 switches (instructions are available online).  You can also write your own books using pictures from the huge collection in the platform or that you upload. The website is available in multiple languages.

Free Services Offered: Free, accessible books.

How to Use: Visit the Tar Heel Reader website to start reading today!

 

Teaching Exceptional Children Volume 46 Issue 5 May/June 2014

From the Council for Exceptional Children: “You never stop advocating for them, and neither do we. As you work to be there for your students while out of the classroom, find tips and resources for delivering special education online in TEACHING Exceptional Children. Topics include making online learning accessible, considerations, comprehension, support, special educators’ roles, designing online learning, and more.”

Free Services Offered: This journal issue is open access and available for free through April 18.

How to use: Visit the SAGE Journals website.

 

The Social Express

The Social Express is a company focused on Social-Emotional Learning and Career Path Exploration.  The platform contains interactive lessons that allow users to safely practice skills needed to manage real-life social situations.  The fun and easy to use program helps drive learning and success in and out of the classroom.

Free Services Offered: Social Express and Cool School are free through April 15th, 2020.

How to Use: Visit the site and explore The Social Express programs.

 

TouchMath

TouchMath is a multisensory math program that makes critical math concepts accessible for students who struggle to understand grade-level content.  The program is committed to maximizing student potential through its delivery of hands-on math programs, cultivating success with individuals of all abilities and learning styles.  To help keep students on track, TouchMath is providing free resources. These include: Workbooks (organized by grade level and topic, 56 activity sheets in each), Free Stuff page has downloadable samples, Desktop TouchLines free to download, and all TouchMath Apps are free in the App Store for iPad and Google Play.

Free Services Offered: Workbooks, downloads, TouchLines, and Apps

How to Use: Visit the TouchMath website and follow the instructions.

 

Vizzle

Vizzle is digital and engaging standards-aligned content for all learners.  As the teacher, you can quickly assign standards-aligned content from a variety of subjects.  Vizzle automatically collects data to help you determine student proficiency of individual learning targets.  Plus, there are teacher-driven student profiles with gamified progress pages and animated reinforcers to motivate and engage students.  Vizzle was created based on research demonstrating the efficacy of an interactive visual language approach to educating students with special needs.

Free Services Offered: 2-week free trial

How to use: Visit the Vizzle website to learn more and sign up.

 

About Me

Rebecca Collopy is the school celebrations assistant for National School Choice Week, helping to raise awareness about the amazing things our participants do throughout the year and during National School Choice Week.  She previously worked in both a traditional public school and public charter school setting as a special education teacher and special education program coordinator.  During her teaching experience she got to witness firsthand the impact school choice can have on a student’s education.

Before COVID-19 pushed schools around the country online, Sarah Betz already worked in a virtual environment. Betz is a teacher at the Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy, where she leads online classes for students who have moderate to intensive disabilities and require a modified curriculum. 

Here are Betz’s tips and insights for helping children with special needs learn online. 

  

NSCW: What are best practices you’ve developed for working in special ed. and online learning? 

 

Sarah Betz: For Math, we use Google Drawings when working with manipulatives. For students to practice work, I use Pear Deck in conjunction with Google Slides, which allows students to demonstrate their understanding without their peers seeing the answers. I also record readings using a screen recording program, upload the readings to YouTube, and then embed the YouTube video into Canvas, our learning management system. We also incorporate the Unique Learning System’s monthly lessons for science and social studies. I project readings by sharing my screen and have students enable their microphones and read the text.

 

NSCW: What’s the biggest difference between online learning and traditional classroom learning? 

 

Betz: The biggest difference is that I’m not in front of or physically with my students when I’m teaching. While some students have their web cams turned on during our live class sessions, allowing me to know that they are listening and paying attention, I can’t always tell with students who don’t have their web cams on. I can, however, ask students questions and have them respond in the chat box to check for understanding and make sure they are focused. 

 

NSCW: How have you seen children express their unique personalities and talents online? 

 

Betz: My students LOVE to express themselves using their microphones and web cams during live class. They tell me about what they had for dinner, what their plans are for the weekend, and anything else they want to share. Parents will send me pictures of their child completing an activity or of something special they did outside of school. I also incorporate opportunities for students to share stories in assignments, which helps me to get to know more about them. 

 

NSCW: Are there aspects of online learning that pose challenges for special education?  

 

Betz: Being online is especially difficult in a multi-disabilities classroom when students require more hands-on assistance. I can provide them with Chrome extensions for text to speech and to write on the screen, but I can’t always see where they are struggling as I could if I were in the brick and mortar classroom. Students sometimes struggle with asking for help because they don’t always have the ability to ask for help, whether it be verbally or through text (typing).

For both families and teachers, ask for help. You might learn about a cool new resource while getting your questions answered. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to fail. – Sarah Betz

NSCW: How can districts transition online without leaving special education students behind? 

 

Betz: [Teachers] can suggest activities for families to complete during the extended breaks to ensure that the child can stay in a routine. When making the transition to online learning, it is important to create guides, especially videos, to help everyone learn how to navigate to lessons. Districts need to establish clear expectations for how much time needs to be spent on school daily, and when assignments need to be completed. Districts also need to make sure that alternate resources, such as hard copies of texts and assignments, are available to all students. This allows special education students to access the curriculum and allows students without technology to continue learning. 

 

NSCW: What encouragement would you give to those feeling overwhelmed by the educational challenges caused by COVID-19?

 

Betz: Know that you aren’t alone. We are all struggling. It will take time to figure out a new routine, and that’s okay. Things won’t be perfect. Ask for help, because chances are that you aren’t the only one struggling. 

 

NSCW: Are there online resources or at-home activities you can recommend for special education students?

 

Betz: Cooking! It is a great way to practice important life skills needed for independence. Let the kids help measure, stir, and cook the food. Let them read the recipe. 

There are many great online resources available to families such as Epic, which is a website with thousands of books that students can read and listen to, and IXL, which offers practice in the four core subject areas for grades K-8. YouTube offers many great educational videos to help reinforce concepts, as well as Khan Academy

[A routine] will make learning and homework time much easier. Set a schedule for when schoolwork needs to be done. If possible, make it during the school day when teachers are available to provide help. 

 

National School Choice Week news in coronavirus

 

Want to learn more? View state and national guidelines about special education during COVID-19.