The Guiding Principles of Special Education are to:

  • Serve students according to individualized need
  • Ensure equality of access to educational services regardless of where the student lives in the city
  • Use evidence-based practices for all students
  • Meet our students' needs in their own communities 

"Congress finds the following: Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.”


Public Schools are one of the first options most parents have available to them, and they are an excellent option for many families. A child with special needs will likely require more assistance than other children, but Federal law mandates that every child receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible. Children with special needs are often entitled to receive additional services or accommodations through the public schools. To support your child and her ability to learn in school, there are three Federal laws that apply specifically to children with special needs.

As a parent, you can request a free evaluation of your child to determine his or her needs for special education and/or related services. Contact your child’s school district or your local Head Start program to arrange an evaluation that may include psychological and educational testing, speech and language evaluation, occupational therapy assessment, and a behavioral analysis. The results of the evaluation determine your child's eligibility for a range of services under the applicable law. Following the evaluation, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed for your child. Examples of the types of services detailed in IEPs include Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, and/or the provision of a classroom aide.
Children with special needs are entitled to special education services in school under federal and state laws, but parents do not determine whether their child is eligible for these services. Parents are, however, entitled (and encouraged) to participate in the development of the IEP. For further information about IEPs see Wrightslaw. Additionally, the findings of a school's evaluation team are not final. You have the right to appeal their conclusions and determination. The school is required to provide you with information about how to make an appeal. As a parent, advocating for your child includes being proactive and taking necessary steps to make sure your child receives appropriate services. Our Advocacy/Finding Your Voice section has more information to help you work within the system.


                 - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

         Procedural Safeguards Notice: English

         Procedural Safeguards Notice: Spanish



Uniquely Gifted: Resources for Gifted Children with Special Needs

Resources for "twice exceptional" children, intellectually gifted children with special needs such as ADHD, learning disabilities, Asperger Syndrome.

Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR)
Maintains a large resource library with information related to children with disabilities. Parent Information Centers in every state provide training to parents of children with disabilities and provide information about local conferences, support groups, and finding schools and other local services. Department of Education, Office of Special Education.

WHCS Chapter-1-Child-Find-Interventions

WHCS Chapter-2-Procedural-Safeguards

WHCS Chapter-3-Full-and-Individual-Evaluation

WHCS Chapter 4-Disabilities-Exceptionalities

WHCS Chapter-5.1-Individual-Education-Program-IEP

WHCS Chapter-5.2-Additional-IEP-Requirements

WHCS Chapter-6-Least-Restrictive-Environment-LRE

WHCS Chapter-7-Discipline-Behavior

WHCS Chapter-8-General-Administration