Special Education Explained

  • What is Special Education?

    Special education is instruction, specially designed to the student, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

    Students with disabilities are general education students first. They receive special education support services in conjunction with the general education curriculum.

    Special education is a specialized instructional service, not a place. Special education services must be reasonably calculated to allow the student to benefit from instruction. If the student is receiving benefit from the special education services, the student will progress at his/her own individual rate. A student who has a disability may always have the disability and cannot be expected to progress in all areas at the same rate as his/her general education peers.

    What is a Disability?

    A disability is a lifelong disabling condition often associated with a physical, mental, or communication impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, including education.

    Who Can Receive Special Education Services?

    To qualify for special education services a child must have a disability. A student may be referred for a special education evaluation by a teacher or by a parent. Prior to the referral, accommodations must be made and interventions attempted in the general education classroom. School staff may discuss the student through a referral to the School Intervention Team (I-Team) and review or determine scientific research-based interventions.

    If the documentation from the interventions shows the student is still not progressing academically, then a referral for a special education evaluation may be recommended. If it appears that there is a need for an individual evaluation, the parent(s) will be invited to an evaluation planning meeting with school staff to determine areas to be evaluated. A parent must approve the initial evaluation plan by signing the "Notice of an Education Evaluation/Re-Evaluation Plan."

    A document titled "Parental Rights and Procedural Safeguards" will be given to parents with the initial evaluation request. The evaluation must be completed within 30 school days from the date the written consent is received by the school district.

    The child must meet state eligibility criteria in one or more of the following areas:

    • Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • Deaf-Blindness
    • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
    • Developmental Cognitive Disability: Mild/Moderate
    • Developmental Cognitive Disability: Severe-Profound
    • Developmental Delay (brth to age 7)
    • Emotional or Behavioral Disorder
    • Other Health Disability
    • Physical Impairment
    • Severe Multiple Impairments
    • Specific Learning Disability
    • Speech or Language Impairment
    • Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Visual Impairment

    An evaluation is used to document the existence of a disability. Below average academic performance alone does not qualify a student for special education.

    How Does a Student Receive Special Education Services?

    The Shakopee School District special education programs and services are designed to meet the needs of students with various disabilities from birth to age 21. If a student has met Minnesota eligibility through a comprehensive evaluation, then a multi-disciplinary team of parents and professionals will meet to write goals to improve the areas of educational need identified for the student. These goals will be written on a document called an Individual Educational Program (IEP), an Individual Service Plan (ISP), an Interagency Individual Intervention Plan (IIIP) or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) for students ages 2 and under.

    Special education programs require parents to participate in making decision for their child. If a parent is not available, a surrogate parent will be appointed.

    Specialized instruction may be provided in the areas of need. Special education areas of need may include:

    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Math Skills
    • Self-Help Skills
    • Motor Skills
    • Communication
    • Organizational Skills
    • Social Skills
    • Transition Skills

    Related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, DAPE, etc. are provided if it is determined the child would not be able to meet their instructional goals without this service. Related Services cannot be provided unless the student is already receiving a special education service in a disability area, such as a learning disability. The related service is only provided if the student requires the service in order to make progress on IEP/ISP/IIIP/IFSP goals.

    What Should I Expect When My Child Receives Special Education Services?

    Parents should expect to participate as a team member in decisions regarding their child’s special education program. A student should receive instruction that has been individualized to meet their specific needs.

    Special education teachers will work with general education teachers to provide the appropriate adaptations within the general education setting. Adaptations can include highlighted textbooks, shortened assignments, class notes, as well as other aids to assist students to succeed in school.

    What special education is not:

    Special Education is not:

    • Tutoring in general education courses.
    • An assurance that students will pass general classes.
    • A cure. It assists in removing barriers caused by the disability but does not remove the disability.
    • Rehabilitation for a physical disability.

    Shakopee Special Education's Mission
    The mission of Shakopee Special Education is to create a collaborative learning community that promotes the development of each learner's unique potential in an encouraging and respectful environment. Shakopee’s special education department serves approximately 1,200 children and students age birth through 21 with a variety of disabilities. A wide range of service delivery models are offered including home-based services for infants and toddlers and school-based services within the school district. We pride ourselves on the quality of our staff and on our efforts to provide programming based on the latest education research.