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Program Overview

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) is the federal law that governs the special education process. One of the main purposes of IDEA is to ensure that children with disabilities have available to them a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. Special Education means specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Related services are special services needed to support the students’ special education services so they can make progress to meet their academic and functional goals. Related services can include services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language therapy, counseling services, orientation and mobility services, and/or transportation services” (Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process, March 2015).

FAPE is defined by the student’s Admission Review Dismissal Committee (ARDc) in their Individual Education Plan (IEP) based on the ARD committee’s decision. The Mansfield Independent School District will provide a continuum of services ranging from full time placement in general education classrooms to self-contained classrooms. To the greatest extent possible, the goal is for a student with disabilities to attend the school within the student’s attendance zone. Programs may differ from campus to campus.

The MISD will strive to ensure that special classes, separate schooling, or other placement outside of the general educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in the general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. The MISD will provide services with qualified special education personnel in order to meet the special needs of students with disabilities in accordance with Federal Regulations 34 CFR 300.550-554.

Placement supports and services are based on the individual needs of the student and determined by the ARDc in the IEP. Educational programming and placement decisions are always made on an individual basis as determined by appropriate assessment data. After a student’s IEP has been developed, the ARDc considers where the required services can best be implemented. The general education classroom is the primary placement option that is always considered first. Students are removed only as far from this setting as their individual needs dictate.

A brief overview of some of the district’s special education programming options follows. Since services are determined based on student need, this overview should not be considered exhaustive.

Accommodations / Modifications

In an effort to maintain student placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), the ARDc may individually design instructional accommodations to assist students in learning required content in the general education curriculum. Accommodations direct the learning process for an individual student, but do not change course content on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). “Accommodations are intended to reduce or even eliminate the effects of a student’s disability but do not reduce learning expectations. An accommodation is a change that is necessary and does not fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations, but may change the manner in which students demonstrate mastery of knowledge or skills. If an ARDc determines it is necessary to provide a student with a disability accommodations in order for him/her to participate, access, and progress in the general curriculum, the educator must implement the accommodations for instruction and assessment as prescribed in the IEP. Then the teacher grades the student according to the established learning criteria. If a student’s accommodations are not implemented as written in the IEP, it is unfair to grade a student on such an assignment” (Grading and Progress Monitoring for Students with Disabilities: A Resource for Teachers, TEA 2015). Please note that accommodations specified in an IEP are mandatory and are implemented by the general education teacher providing the instruction.

However, special education staff are available to assist in implementing accommodations.The ARDc may individually design modifications to assist the student in accessing the general education curriculum. “Modifications are practices and procedures that change the nature of the task or target skill. A modification is a change that is necessary for a student to gain access and make progress in the general curriculum. Modifications fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations for the student. When an ARDc determines that modifications are necessary, it is important that all members of the team, including the student and parent(s), have a clear understanding of how the student’s educators will implement the modifications. The ARDc considers modifications on a content-by-content basis. Educators implement modifications in subject areas only when the student requires modifications in order to meet his/her needs” (Grading and Progress Monitoring for Students with Disabilities: A Resource for Teachers, TEA 2015). Modifications result in modified grades for the course. The ARDc must exercise extreme care when reviewing the presenting data as it pertains to whether the student requires modifications in order to access the general education curriculum as there are no modified statewide assessments for students who are not identified with a significant cognitive disability. Intervention should focus on gap closure.

Mainstream / Instructional Setting

This instructional arrangement/setting is for providing special education and related services to a student in the general classroom in accordance with the student’s IEP. Qualified special education personnel must be involved in the implementation of the student’s IEP and the delivery of Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) as outlined in that IEP. SDI refers to content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to meet the unique needs of the child while ensuring access to the general curriculum. This may occur through provision of direct, indirect, and/or support services to the student, and/or the student’s general education classroom teacher(s) necessary to enable student success.

The student’s IEP must specify the services that will be provided by qualified special education personnel to enable the student to appropriately progress in the general education curriculum and/or appropriately progress in achieving the goals set out in the student’s IEP. Special education paraprofessionals may be utilized to provide these services under the supervision of a certified teacher.

A student’s level of support needed in the general education classroom varies according to the individual needs of the student. A continuum of support services is provided within the general education classroom. The ARDc determines when additional assistance is necessary to appropriately serve the student with disabilities.

  • INCLUSION SUPPORT SETTING: Inclusion services are available to meet the individual needs of students in general education settings. Students receive consultative, direct, and/or indirect support from special education staff within the general education classroom. A paraprofessional may provide support under the direct supervision of the teacher as specified in the IEP. SDI is required.

  • CO-TEACHING CLASSROOMS: Co-teaching is a learning environment in which two or more certified professionals share the responsibility of lesson planning, delivery of instruction, and progress monitoring for all students assigned to their classroom. As a team, these professionals share the same physical classroom space, collaboratively make instructional decisions, and share responsibility of student accountability (Friend, 2014). The general education teacher is responsible for implementing the accommodations and/or modifications while the special education teacher is responsible for providing modifications and the SDI.

Resource / Instructional Services

Resource Instructional Services occur any amount of time that a student receives intensive direct instruction from a special education service provider in a separate setting from the general education classroom to address the specific goals/objectives in the IEP. This instructional service is used for a student who is provided special education and related services in a setting other than general education.

The following are types of resource settings:
  • CONTENT MASTERY (CM): Content Mastery is an instructional and behavior support service for identified special education students who receive their primary instruction in the general education setting. The Content Mastery teacher offers a wide variety of services in collaboration with the general education classroom teacher in order to provide the academic support necessary for students with disabilities to master curriculum objectives. The Content Mastery teacher obtains lesson plans, materials, etc., to plan a quality support system for the student. Content Mastery services may be delivered using an in-class support model to provide greater access to the general education curriculum.
  • CRISIS INTERVENTION (CI): Students who need additional help in maintaining appropriate behavior may be supported by the special education teacher. Students for whom this service is planned by the ARDc follow their IEP determined class schedule and may access the support of the special education teacher when the student or his/her classroom teacher sees the need for help in maintaining appropriate behaviors as specified in the behavior intervention plan (BIP).
  • FUNDAMENTAL CLASSES: Instruction in the fundamental classroom setting is individualized and based upon the student’s IEP goals and objectives which are linked to the student’s enrolled grade level TEKS. Fundamental classroom services are available for students who need more intensive individualized instruction with modifications to the general education curriculum. The emphasis is on core academic areas with the focus directed towards skill acquisition, acceleration, and/or remediation. Fundamental classes also provide behavior supports and social skills instruction. Students work toward mastery of individually developed IEP objectives in classes instructed by certified special education teachers. Students served in the fundamental classroom setting are typically multiple years behind their enrolled grade-level, require intensive interventions, and receive modifications in the grade level curriculum.

    Fundamental classroom teachers should use general education materials, curriculum guides, text books, and/or other approved research based materials modified to meet the student’s need. Pacing and instructional strategies will vary based upon student need. Fundamental (modified) curriculum may also be implemented in the mainstream setting for students whose IEP specifies an inclusion or push in service delivery model. The ARDc must exercise extreme care when reviewing the presenting data as it pertains to whether the student requires modifications in order to access the general education curriculum as there are no modified statewide assessments for students who are not identified with a significant cognitive disability. Modifications should be content specific and may not affect all curriculum areas. Curriculum modifications may have an impact on a student’s graduation plan.

Self-Contained Programs

In accordance with IDEA and providing a FAPE for students receiving special education services, the MISD provides a full continuum of services to support the students’ academic and behavior needs.

Self-Contained programs are designed to provide a structured instructional program for students whose functional and academic skills cannot be met in other settings. In accordance with IDEA, removal of students with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes, with the implementation of supplementary aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Prior to placement in a self-contained class information/data is gathered and reviewed to determine that the LRE requirements have been met and all appropriate interventions have been exhausted at the campus level.

Due to the severity of their disability, some students may require instruction utilizing alternate curriculum standards or specialized behavioral supports. A Special Education Coordinator or the Director of Special Education must be notified prior to the consideration for any self-contained program to assist with LRE review. Students will participate in the general education classroom to the maximum extent appropriate to meet their academic, social/emotional, and vocational needs. 

Cameras in Self-Contained Classrooms

Senate Bill 507 - Video Cameras in Certain Special Education Classrooms

In order to promote the safety of students receiving special education and related services in certain self-contained classrooms and other special education settings, SB 507, 84th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2015, added TEC, §29.022, to require video surveillance.

Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, on request by a parent, trustee, or staff member, a school district or open-enrollment charter school must provide video equipment, including video cameras with audio recording capabilities, to campuses. Campuses that receive such equipment must place, operate, and maintain video cameras in certain self-contained classrooms or other special education settings. Video recordings are confidential under the section and may only be released for viewing to certain individuals.

For further information regarding video cameras in certain SpEd classrooms, please visit this page on the Texas Education Agency website.

Download a copy of Senate Bill 507

Pre-School Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD)

School-based early intervention services are provided for children ages 3 through 5 who have been identified with a disability. PPCD is a continuum of services and not a specific program, place, or classroom.

The following is a description of the continuum of services available to meet the needs of this age group:

  • PRESCHOOL SPEECH ONLY (PSO): The PSO program is designed for students ages 3 through 5 who exhibit moderate delays in articulation and/or errors in one or more phonological processes. These students may also demonstrate moderate language delays or dysfluencies. Service delivery is typically provided through small group instruction on the student’s home campus.


  • PPCD/PRE-K CO-TAUGHT CLASSROOM: This is a co-taught classroom with a certified Pre-K teacher and a certified special education teacher who serve Pre-K eligible students along with PPCD eligible students. This model provides an opportunity for students with IEPs to be educated with same age nondisabled peers. Students must be 4 years old by September 1 to be considered for this program. A Special Education Coordinator or Director of Special Education must be notified prior to the consideration for this program to assist with LRE review.


  • PRESCHOOL LANGUAGE CLASS (PLC): The PLC classroom is for students who are 3 to 4 years of age who exhibit moderate to severe delays in language development. This is a language rich classroom that emphasizes skills in the areas of communication, pre-academics, gross and fine motor, self-help, and behavior/social skills. These children may demonstrate significant deficits in pragmatic skills and/or mild to moderate atypical behavioral characteristics. Articulation skills are typically within normal limits or mildly delayed. A Special Education Coordinator or Director of Special Education must be notified prior to the consideration for this program to assist with LRE review.


  • PPCD CLASSROOM: The PPCD classroom is a self-contained classroom which provides instruction to students with moderate to severe deficits in multiple areas of development (social/emotional, language, gross and fine motor, cognitive skills and/or self-help skills). Due to the nature of the students’ needs, a lower staff to student ratio may be required. A Special Education Coordinator or Director of Special Education must be notified prior to the consideration for this program to assist with LRE review.


  • BIRTH TO 3: The MISD also provides services in conjunction with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) programs for children birth to 3 years old that have vision and/or hearing disabilities. The district works closely with ECI providers to facilitate a smooth transition to public school services.

Other Services

  • SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPY SERVICES: Intervention for speech/language disorders is provided to children who meet disability requirements as a student with a Speech Impairment (Language, Articulation, Voice, and Fluency) and demonstrate an educational need for speech therapy services. Services are based upon individual student needs and determined by the ARDc.
  • VOCATIONAL ADJUSTMENT CLASS (VAC): The Vocational Adjustment Class is a special education vocational program for students in high school. This instructional arrangement is designed for student with disabilities who require, as part of their IEP, vocational training and are unable to make progress in general education vocational classes. The VAC program supports students in acquiring vocational skills by providing both classroom and on-the-job instruction in order to develop marketable skills. Components of this program include full-time or part-time employment, as well as, the support of job coaches. Employment opportunities and training are based on vocational evaluation, student needs and abilities, teacher recommendations, and parental input. There are three components of the VAC Program:
    • Community Based Vocational Instruction (CBVI) – at least 18 years of age or older: CBVI provides on the job training for students with significant disabilities. Students receive intensive on-going support in the workplace through individualized job coaching and employability skills training. Students should have the following pre-employment skills: good attendance; the ability to take and follow employer directions; adequate communication skills; and a desire to be employed in the future.
    • Occupational Preparation (Occ. Prep) 10th-11th grade: Occ. Prep introduces basic employability skills to students who are in special education classes (2 or more Fundamentals classes) and/or require more assistance than accommodations within the general education environment can provide. This class teaches students how to secure employment and those social skills required to maintain their position.
    • Occupational Career Experience (OCE) 11th-12th grade: OCE provides special education vocational instruction to a student both in the classroom and on the job. Regularly scheduled job site visits and direct involvement by special education personnel in the employment process aid in the implementation of the student’s IEP. This instructional arrangement/setting shall be used in conjunction with the student’s individual transition plan.
  • HOMEBOUND: Homebound is a setting for providing special education and related services to eligible students whose educational needs can only be met in a home setting or hospital within the boundaries of the district. This is a very restrictive environment and should be considered only to the extent and for the duration necessary for the student’s benefit. The students are expected to be confined for a minimum of 4 consecutive weeks as documented by a physician licensed to practice in the state of Texas. Homebound instruction may also be provided to chronically ill students who are expected to be confined for any period of time totaling a minimum of at least 4 weeks throughout the school year. The ARDc determines the amount of services to be provided in accordance with state and federal laws.

    Homebound students are ineligible to participate in extracurricular and co-curricular activities, work programs, outside jobs, and other activities away from the home under normal circumstances. The parent or guardian must be present in the home while a homebound teacher or service provider is delivering instruction.
  • PREGNANCY RELATED SERVICES (PRS) HOMEBOUND: The special education student in the prenatal or postpartum periods of pregnancy is served by the district with special education homebound services and PRS services during confinement no matter the anticipated or actual period of confinement even when the student is anticipated to be confined for fewer than 4 consecutive weeks or fewer than 4 weeks total for the school year. In addition to the homebound instructional services provided to the student through the special education program, PRS provides at least 2 hours a week of PRS support services in the form of Compensatory Education Home Instruction (CEHI).
  • SERVICES FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED (VI): Services for students with visual impairments are provided by itinerant teachers who are certified to provide a wide range of services including Braille/low vision device instruction, technology instruction, in class support, and instruction in areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum. Certified Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialists address mobility needs within the school and community. Certain low vision devices and sections of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) are also addressed through O&M services. VI Teachers and O&M instructors serve students from birth to 22 years of age and support ECI for children younger than 3 years of age. Support may be provided to the classroom teacher and other staff who serve the student or paired with direct instruction from the itinerant teacher to the student in accordance with the student’s individualized education plan.
  • SERVICES FOR THE AUDITORALLY IMPAIRED (AI): The MISD serves any student who has a auditory impairment which severely impairs processing linguistic information through hearing, even with recommended amplification, and which adversely affects educational performance creating a need for special education subject to the ARDc recommendation.

    Students are served in the least restrictive environment which is determined by the ARDc. Some students are served by an itinerant deaf education teacher on the student's home campus and some are served by the deaf education parent advisor in the student's home if the student is not school age.

    The MISD is a member of Arlington’s Regional Day School Program for the Deaf for students who use sign language as their primary mode of communication. Students who communicate using sign language may attend school in Arlington ISD at Miller Elementary, Young Jr. High, or Martin High School as part of the Shared Service Arrangement between the MISD and the Arlington ISD as determined by the ARDc.
  • ADAPTED PHYSICAL EDUCATION (APE): Adapted physical education is a diversified program of developmental activities, games, sports, and rhythmical movements suited to the interests, capabilities, and limitations of students with disabilities who may not benefit from unrestricted participation in activities within the general physical education program. Adapted physical education services may include the following areas: developing/refining sport skills, modifying exercises for greater participation, promoting knowledge and appreciation of physical activity and games, promoting life-time leisure activities, improving spectator skills through knowledge of rules and strategies, and increasing opportunities to experience self-worth and peer interaction. As with all specialized instruction, a continuum of services is provided ranging from least restrictive (general education P.E. classes with consult from an APE teacher) to most restrictive (self-contained adapted P.E. class). Eligibility is based on evaluation and determined by the ARDc.
  • RELATED SERVICES: Related services are services identified through assessment and planned by an ARDc that are necessary to enable a student to benefit from special education services. These services are a support to the student’s special education program and are not provided in isolation. Related services may include counseling, transportation, music therapy, orientation and mobility, school health services, occupational and physical therapies, psychological services, and/or in-home/parent training. According to state and federal statutes, this list is not exhaustive. An evaluation is conducted and a report completed by the appropriately qualified service providers. Eligibility is based on this evaluation and determined by the IEP team. In Texas, Speech Therapy is not considered a related service but is treated as an instructional service.

    The related service evaluation is reviewed by the ARDc to determine the need for service/s. When determined by the ARDc as necessary, related services, except transportation, require IEP goals and objectives.
  • EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY): ESY services means special education and related services that are provided to a child with a disability beyond the normal school year in accordance with the child’s IEP at no cost to the parents and meets the standards of the State Education Agency. ESY is considered by the ARDc when, in one or more critical areas of the current Individualized Education Program (IEP), documentation exists showing that the student has exhibited or reasonably may be expected to exhibit severe or substantial regression in the absence of ESY services; and/or when recoupment of critical skills does not occur within 8 weeks of the next regular school year or if immediate physical harm to the student or others could occur without ESY.


Extended School Year Service Options