Special Education

The Delta County School District’s Department of Special Education is committed to providing an educational experience based upon the individual needs of each child as prescribed and defined by the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act and the state Exceptional Children's Education Act. The Department provides specialized instruction for students to minimize the impact of their disability through a continuum of services, ranging from services provided in the general education classroom to fully contained classroom settings. In addition to special education teachers, students with disabilities may receive support from paraprofessionals, nurses, mental health providers, speech language and occupational therapists. The goal of the Department of Special Education is to provide services that will allow students with disabilities to acquire the skill to pursue independent living and post secondary success. If you feel your child needs assessed for Special Education, please contact the Director of Special Services or your child’s building principal.

Special Education F.A.Q.

What is special education?
Special education means individualized designed instruction, services, or programs provided at no cost to families to meet the unique needs of students with identified disabilities. Special education services and programs may be provided individually to a student or in a group with other students with similar education needs, within the general education classroom, at home, or in a residential setting. After a thorough evaluation process, each school’s special education team makes recommendations about special education eligibility and appropriate special education services and programs. These are described in detail in a written plan for each child known as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

How are students found eligible for special education?
The child is assessed either formally or informally by special education personnel in the areas of education, social and emotional, cognitive, physical health, communication and when appropriate life skills/transition. Progress monitoring and RTI data collected after permission to assess is given may also be used as a part of the evaluation.

What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting?
The team including the parent, and child if appropriate, meet to share information and review the evaluation results. A child’s educational needs are determined, and if the child meets the federal and state qualifying criteria, an IEP can be developed. By definition an IEP is a written summary of a child’s strengths, concerns, and educational needs. The IEP is designed to set goals which will meet the child’s educational needs. The information contained in the IEP assists with the placement of the child within general education and special education. Written parental permission is required for program placement.

Program placement could include support in general education classrooms, pull-out services in a special education classroom, center-based program placement, and consultation with a special education teacher.

What is an annual review?
The child’s IEP is reviewed annually to review progress, current goals and objectives, and develop new goals and objectives. This meeting involves: parents, the special education teacher, general education teacher, the student (where appropriate), and other personnel involved with the child’s educational program that has pertinent information to share.

What is a triennial review?
A triennial review occurs once every three years. Formal and informal assessments may be used to determine a student’s continued eligibility for special education services. These evaluations are discussed and changes to placement and/or programming are made if deemed necessary. This meeting involves parents, the special education teacher, general education teacher, the student (where appropriate), the school psychologist and other personnel involved with the child’s educational program that have pertinent information to share.

How will I know when my child’s IEP meetings are held?
The District gives parents sufficient notice in writing prior to the annual/triennial review.

What happens if we move to a different school?
Every district offers special education services. If you move within the same school district, your child’s IEP will be transferred to the new school. If you move to a new school district or Board of Cooperative Educational Services region, a written request is needed for the District to transfer your child’s records to the new school district in which your child is enrolled. It is important to notify the new school that your child has an IEP. If a formal written request for your child’s cumulative records and/or special education records is not received from the new school district, your child will have to be reported to the Department of Education as a student not enrolled in school. You may call our Special Services office, (970) 874-7607 with the name and location of the new school and we will solicit a records request if necessary.

What forms are parents required to sign?
Parent signatures are required for Permission for Initial Evaluation for Special Education, as well as on the Initial IEP. After the initial IEP is completed and signed, parent signatures are only required for Permission for Re-evaluation for Triennial Reviews or for additionally requested assessments. Once the initial IEP is signed, educational decisions other than giving permission for assessment are made by the IEP team, of which the parent is a part. If a parent disagrees with decisions made by the IEP team, the parent should inform the Director of Special Education in writing within 10 school days of the IEP meeting, detailing the areas of disagreement.

What is least restrictive environment (LRE)?
A range of service options is available to meet the needs of each student. The term “least restrictive environment” refers to the setting determined by the IEP team to give the child as much contact as possible with typical age-appropriate peers while meeting the child’s unique educational needs.

Students often receive services in more than one setting. For example, a student may spend part of their day in a general education classroom and part of the day in a special education classroom. Some of the different service options that are available to meet student needs include direct service in the general education classroom, pull out services by a specialist, or small group support in a resource classroom. As a student’s needs change, different educational environments may be appropriate.

What does the term, "Free Appropriate Public Education or FAPE, " mean?
FAPE is the educational right of children with disabilities in the United States guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA.) It is defined as an educational program that is individualized to fit the specific needs of a child having a disability or qualifying for special education. The program must meet the child’s unique needs, provide access to the general education curriculum and meet State grade level standards. Districts are considered to be in compliance with FAPE if the IEP enables the child to achieve educational progress. The district is not required to provide the best possible educational program, only one that meets the unique needs of the child and demonstrates educational benefit.

What is transition?
Transition within the special education system focuses on the entrance of children from one program or service delivery mode into another. Transition planning also refers to the services provided to students to explore the opportunities and resources necessary for a variety of options after high school. Transitions can be an emotional time as families and children learn about new roles, systems, professionals and expectations. Successful transitions require collaboration and communication from a variety of interdisciplinary team, utilization of technology and the awareness of and access to community resources.

Transition from Part C to Part B
Part C refers to the section of IDEIA that covers supports and services for children birth through three years of age. Children age 0 to 3 receive services through an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), and those services are provided by Community Options. When a child turns 2 years 9 months of age, he or she can be re-evaluated by Delta School District Child Find team to determine eligibility of continued special education services. If eligible, the child will receive services with an IEP from Delta School District through Part B, which is the section of IDEIA that covers supports and services for school-age children 3-21 years of age. The focus of services provided through an IFSP is to support the development of a young child by serving the child and the child’s family. When a child transitions to Part B and an IEP, the focus of services are on supporting the academic progress of the child so that the child receives reasonable benefit from general education.

Transition from Preschool
The second transition occurs when your child moves from preschool to kindergarten. A Transition IEP meeting will occur to make needed changes and arrangements.

Transitions from Elementary, Middle School and High School
As the student moves through the educational system they will change grade levels and schools. With each change there is an adjustment for the student and family. It is imperative in transition practices that the student becomes independent, a self-advocate and active participant in their transition process.

Post High School Transition
The purpose of transition services from high school to post high school is that the student will successfully move from school to post-school activities. Each student’s transition plan should address the following:

  • • Employment (including supported employment)
  • • Post-secondary education
  • • Vocational training
  • • Continuing and adult education
  • • Adult services
  • • Independent living and daily living skills
  • • Community participation

Many colleges and universities currently require a recent (within the last three years) DSM-IV diagnosis in order for students to receive accommodations and modifications. In some cases, these will be available in the student’s special education records. However, due to the recent changes in IDEIA and in requirements for the identification of disabilities for students K-12, many students with IEPs will graduate from high school without this current assessment. Counselors or special education staff can assist you in finding private evaluators who can provide any required assessment.

What are extended school year (ESY) services?
Extended school year (ESY) services were established by a history of litigation that supports all children’s rights to a free and appropriate public education. For some children with special needs this may include a program in excess of the traditional 168-day school year. Any student receiving special education services can be considered for extended school year services.

ESY services are provided when regression during extended breaks from school is so severe that a student is unable to recoup the losses in a reasonable period of time and/or the student would be unable to attain the planned educational goals. ESY services are also appropriate when the areas of learning are crucial to the attainment of self-sufficiency and independence for the student. It is the responsibility of the individualized education program (IEP) team to determine the need for ESY services, to develop appropriate goals and objectives, and to identify the nature and duration of the service.