Students with Disabilities

The IEP Process

Things to Consider

If you think your child may need special education services, keep in mind that:

  • Children learn and develop at different speeds and in different ways.
  • Children who learn differently do not necessarily have a disability.
  • Children should not be referred for special education services because of limited English proficiency.



Your child may be eligible for special education services if they show delays in:

  • Thinking and learning
  • Understanding and using language
  • Self-help skills (toileting, eating, dressing)
  • Behavior (getting along with others, expressing feelings)
  • Physical ability (vision, hearing, movement)

Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention (RTI) is an approach schools use to match individual students with the teaching practices and level of support that work best for them. While you may make a referral for a special education evaluation at any time, public schools serving students in grades K-5 are required to implement RTI before making a referral.

How it Works:

RTI is a three-tiered model. At each step, more support is offered to students who need it.

  • Tier 1: For all students. This is high-quality, differentiated instruction provided in a general education classroom.
  • Tier 2: May include small group instruction or additional instructional time.
  • Tier 3: More intensive instruction that may include materials or programs to target your child's needs.

What’s Next?

If RTI has been provided and your child still needs more support, you or the DOE can make a referral for an evaluation for special education. You can also request a Section 504 Accommodation.

504 Accommodation

Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973(Open external link) requires public schools to provide eligible students with accommodations so they can participate in school activities with non-disabled peers.

  • Under Section 504, a student with a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities is eligible to receive accommodations.
  • A student who requires medication during the school day or an accessible school building, for example, may have a 504 Accommodation.
  • If your child is in a Pre-K for All program and has medical needs, e-mail

504 Plan

Find Out More

Visit our 504 Accommodation page to find out more.


What is IDEA?

IDEA stands for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IDEA guarantees  a free appropriate education to children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. 

What does IDEA mean for my child?

If your child has a disability IDEA works to protect their rights to education. It makes sure your child is in the most inclusive environment possible, and that teachers are accommodating their lessons to your child's needs. 

How do I make sure my child is protected under IDEA?

If your child has a disability please apply for an IEP or 504 plan for your child.


For more information about IDEA you can visit this website: