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Special Education - General Information

Legal Information
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This section of PALawHelp.org has information and resources about Special Education - General Information in Pennsylvania.

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Mediation (Special Education)

Even when parents and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur. If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent the right to a due process hearing. Information on the Mediation process from the Office of Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Special Education Due Process Complaint Process and Forms

Information on the complaint process, including the Complaint Form, which is used to submit a formal complaint to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. Office for Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Educational Rights of Children with Special Needs

Consumer information pamphlet from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. [PDF] (August 2013)

Education Rights for Mentally Gifted Students

Consumer Legal Information Pamphlet from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. (September 2014)

Education Rights for Students with Disabilities

Consumer Legal Information Pamphlet from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. (September 2014)

What Can a Parent Do if a Child has a Health Problem that Requires Support or Services in School?

This fact sheet from the Education Law Center - Pennsylvania provides information about what to do if your child has a health problem, chronic condition, physical, mental, or behavioral impairment that “substantially limits” a “major life activity” and needs help to participate in or benefit from education or extra-curricular programs. [PDF] (August 2021)

Chapter 14 and IDEA: A comparison of Special Education Rights

This is a SIDE-BY-SIDE QUICK REFERENCE from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (provided by Disability Rights Pennsylvania), comparing Chapter 14, Special Education Services and Programs (State Regulations) to Part 300, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Federal Regulations).(September 19, 2008) [PDF]

Education Law Center

The Education Law Center is a non-profit legal advocacy and educational organization, dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania's children have access to a quality public education.

ELC’s 2021 Back-to-School Guide for Pennsylvania Public School Students

The Education Law Center (ELC) has updated its “Back-to-School” guide for families, students, and schools. The information and fact sheets now include COVID-related considerations for the upcoming school year.

The Right to Special Education In Pennsylvania: A Guide for Parents and Advocates [PDF]

This Guide describes the legal rules that govern the special education and early intervention programs in Pennsylvania for children from age three until schooling ends. (2021)

The Special Education ConsultLine

Information on The Special Education ConsultLine, a a toll-free information line established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for your questions and concerns: 1-800-879-2301. ConsultLine is designed to assist parents and advocates of children with disabilities or children thought to be disabled. ConsultLine provides information about school-related concerns, special education regulations, procedural safeguards, and parents’ rights.

Parents’ Rights: Understanding the Procedural Safeguards Notice

Parents of children who receive or who may be eligible for special education services have rights under a law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This brochure provides a summary of those rights. The Procedural Safeguards Notice provides a more detailed explanation of those rights.

Special Education Timelines

This booklet cites the special education timelines in accordance with the requirements of Pennsylvania law, Chapter 711 Charter School and Cyber Charter School Services and Programs for Children with Disabilities, Chapter 14 Special Education Services and Programs and Federal Regulations Part 300, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (May 2018)

Mediation (Special Education)

Even when parents and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur. If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent the right to a due process hearing. Information on the Mediation process from the Office of Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Special Education Due Process Complaint Process and Forms

Information on the complaint process, including the Complaint Form, which is used to submit a formal complaint to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. Office for Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Approved Private Schools for Special Education and Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

Information on requirements for Approved Private for Special Education and Schools for the Deaf and the Blind from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Educational Programs for Students in Non-Educational Placements

School-age children are sometimes placed in residential programs for reasons not related to the child's educational needs, for example, under the auspices of a county Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities (MH/ID) program agency, children and youth agency, or through a local court. This Basic Education Circular discusses the obligations of school districts to educate students with disabilities who reside in residential facilities within the school districts' boundaries.

Extended School Year Services in Pennsylvania

Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services that are provided to students with disabilities beyond the 180-day school year. This guide contains a comprehensive compilation of documents that will provide direction, respond to questions, and guide parents and local education agencies in making determinations about ESY services.

Questions and Answer on Special Education and Homelessness

Information from the the Pennsylvania Department of Education about issues surrounding the provision of Special Education to a homeless child.

Questions and Answers Out-of-State Transfers for Students with Disabilities

Information from the Pennsylvania Department of Education providing answers to questions arising when a student with a disability transfers into a Pennsylvania school district.

Accessible Instructional Materials for Children with Disabilities

Information from the Disability Rights Pennsylvania on the availability of Accessible Instructional Materials for children with disabilities. [PDF]

Should I Graduate This Year? A Guide for Students and Their Families

Disability Rights Pennsylvania provides information on graduation requirements for students receiving Special Education at school under the guidance of an IEP Team. This guide was created to answer some questions about graduation and provide a general sense of what your legal rights are.

Transition to Adulthood - A guide for transition age individuals with disabilities and their families

The Disability Rights Pennsylvania provides information on transition services providing skills the student needs to learn to be prepared for his or her adult life. [PDF]

Eight Common Myths About Special Education Laws

Discussion of commonly-held myths about Special Education Laws. (March 2015)

Publications from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

List of Publications from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. The Bazelon Center produces reports, issue papers, and manuals that analyze major federal laws, policies, and regulations that affect access to services and the rights of people with mental disabilities.

Special Education for School-Age Children (age 3 to graduation or age 21)

Information from Disability Rights Pennsylvania on Special Education Services Available to Children with Disabilities beginning at age 3.

Transportation for Students with Disabilities in Pennsylvania

Information on transportation options for students with disabilities in Pennsylvania from the PA School Bus Association. (2020)

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