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.