Dear parents and caregivers,
In our elementary school, teachers and staff believe that each child deserves equal educational opportunities. Teaching in our school is based on several principles:
Children have different abilities, and all abilities are normal
All children have unique strengths that we appreciate and celebrate. In our classrooms, children bring and share their unique talents.
Teachers, special education professionals, parents, caregivers and community members work together to meet the needs of each child.
With appropriate support, each child in our school can thrive academically and emotionally.
We care about your child, and we understand that children have diverse learning needs. We can serve your child better by modifying the instruction in three areas – content, process, and evaluation. We look forward to developing an appropriate educational plan for your student. As the first step, we would like to provide you with information about some types of disabilities, your rights as parents and caregivers, and how we can work together to evaluate the need for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for your child. If you have any questions, you can contact our school administration and teachers who continue to learn more about how to serve children better.
Let's review a few examples of disabilities and how we adapt our instruction. This list is not exhaustive, and we would be glad to refer you to more sources of information about each type of disabilities, including those not listed here. While we use established definitions and frameworks of disabilities from research publications and professional associations, we acknowledge that our school is committed to strength-based thinking about children who require help, and not deficit-based thinking.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law. It ensures that students with disabilities are provided a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) tailored to their individual needs. IDEA aims to provide children with disabilities equal education opportunities.
Under this regulations, parents or caregivers have a say in the decisions the school makes about your child. For example you have rights to:
Receive a complete explanation of all the pre-assessment, assessment and education plan procedures.
Review any educational records of their child.
Obtain an independent educational evaluation of their child.
Give their consent before the school provides special education and related services to your child.
Disagree with the school on what's best for your child.
By the law, our school is required to:
- Find and evaluate students through to have disabilities at no cost to families.
- Provide special education and related services for students with a qualifying disability to meet their needs.
- Give parents or legal guardians a voice in their child's education.
- Provide opportunities for parents to participate in meetings about their child's education, including IEP meetings (see below).
- Protect your child's confidentiality, including their personal information.
- Inform parents about services provided for their child, and obtain parental permissions in writing before moving forward with new procedure.
- Consider results of independent evaluation in cases when parents disagree with the school's evaluation results.
Individual Education Program (IEP), which is also called "individualized education plan," is a legally binding document that articulates exact special education services your child will receive and why.
Creating an Individual Education Program (IEP) is a long process, in which many professionals such as teachers, therapist and school administration are involved. As a parent or caregiver, your contribution to IEP development is crucial. We would like to collaborate with you to assess the need of IEP for your child, and, if necessary, develop and implement specific interventions that will meet your child's educational needs. Let's review the IEP process.
Initial Evaluation Referral
A referral for an initial assessment can be made by a teacher, school administratration, parent, or caregiver. It should be made in writing to the school district.
After receiving a referral, the school district must formulate an Assessment Plan, and return it to the parent. The school must obtain signed parental consent before assessing a child. Parents or caregivers have the right to withdraw their child from assessment at any time, and obtain detailed information about this evaluation.
Evaluation will show whether the child does, indeed, have a disability and thus needs special education and related services.
If the child has a disability and requires special education, the school district is required to complete the assessment, write a report, and hold an IEP meeting within 60 days.
IEP Meeting and Design
The IEP team conducts an IEP meeting and designs an IEP for the student. Families can bring anyone to the meetings such as doctors, therapists, or other professionals who can provide helpful information.
IEP must include detailed descriptions of the educational goals, assessment methods, behavioral management plan, and other aspects of special education and other relevant services.
The school must use parental input. The school can begin to implement IEP only after parents or caregivers sign it.
The school must provide services as written in IEP. For example, IEP can indicate percentage of time in regular education, requirements for progress report from teachers and therapists, placement services such as a one-on-one aide and therapies.
Once a year, the school continues to organize IEP meetings to modify educational and therapy plans for a student according to a student's needs. Parents can request an emergency IEP at any time, or request to amend any services.
A required three-year evaluation will determine whether your child continues to qualify for special education and related services.
In sum, IEP is a written statement of special education services for a student with a disability. It is a blueprint for the student's FAPE, developed through a collaboration among teachers, other professionals, and parents. Every learner deserves equal educational opportunities, and our school is committed to work with you to meet the needs of your child.
Bender, W.N. (2012). Differentiating instruction for students with learning disabilities: New best practices for general and special educators (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press
Dabkowski, D.M. (2004). Encouraging active parent participation in IEP team meetings. Teaching Exceptional Children, 36(3), 34-39.
Hallowell, E.M., and Jensen, P.S. (2008). From moral to deficit-based to strength-based thinking. New York: Ballantine Books.
Kirk, S. A., Gallagher, J. J., & Coleman, M. R. (2015). Educating exceptional children (14th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage.
Associations and other resources:
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities —
Attention Deficit Disorder Association —
Learning Disabilities Association of America —
National Association for Special Education Teachers —
Center for Parent Information & Resources —
Free disability images at
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