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Frequently Asked Questions

What is special education?

Special education is specially designed instruction and/or related services for students with a disability.

How do I know if my child is eligible for special education?

Students, ages 3 through 21, can be found eligible for special education through a process called referral and evaluation.

Is every child with a disability eligible for special education?

Not every child with a disability will require special education services. Every child whose disability affects both their ability to access the general education curriculum and make effective progress is entitled to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) which meets their unique needs.

What happens once a child is determined eligible for special education?

Once a child has been evaluated and determined eligible for special education, a team will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to ensure the student receives all the supports and services they need to learn.

How do I refer my child for special education?

To refer your child for a special education evaluation, you should reach out to your child's building principal. They will connect you with your child's grade-level special education teacher who can assist you in completing the Hoosac Valley Regional School District's referral form.

What is a "special education evaluation?"

A special education evaluation is a series of comprehensive assessments conducted by qualified professionals in each area of suspected disability. The IDEA specifically prohibits the use of one assessment as the sole criterion to determine special education eligibility See 603 C.M.R 28.04(2) and 34 CFR 300.304. The purpose of the special education evaluation is two-fold:

(1) to determine if the student is eligible for special education services; and

(2) to drive the development of an appropriate IEP aligned to meet the student’s special education needs.

Evaluations may include the following types of assessments: developmental, psychological, educational achievement, home assessment, speech/language, occupational therapy (fine motor/sensory), physical therapy (gross motor), behavioral, assistive technology, or augmentative-alternative communication. Additionally, evaluations often involve caregiver interviews, as well as observations of the student in a variety of environments.

How long does a special education referral and evaluation take?

  • 5 days: Within five school working days of receiving your request for a special education evaluation, you will a response from the district in the form of a Proposed Action Notice and Evaluation Consent or a Refusal to Act.
  • 30 days: Within thirty school working days from the receipt of a signed evaluation consent, all testing outlined on the evaluation consent will be completed.
  • 45 days: Within forty five school working days your child's special education team will convene and determine eligibility.
  • 10 days: If your child is found eligible for special education services, you will receive your child's proposed IEP within ten school working days from the date of your child's initial team meeting.
  • 30 days: You have thirty calendar days to submit a response to your child's proposed IEP.

What is an IEP?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is formed at the Team meeting and represents a formal agreement about the services that the school will provide for your child’s special education needs. The IEP is a contract between you and the school.

Who are the required members of my child's IEP team?

  • Parent(s) or guardian(s)
  • At least one of your child's special education teachers and/or related service providers
  • At least one of your child's regulation education teachers if your child is (or may) be participating in the regular education environment
  • Other individuals or agencies, invited by the parent or the district
  • Someone to interpret the evaluation results and explain what services may be needed
  • Other people or agencies that have special expertise or knowledge of your child
  • Your child if they are between the ages of 14-22

What is a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?

A child who is eligible for special education services is entitled by federal law to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). FAPE ensures that all students with disabilities receive an appropriate public education at no expense to the family. FAPE differs for each student because each student has unique needs. FAPE specifies that needed services must be provided without cost to the family.

Where are special education services provided?

The federal law, IDEA, mandates that students with disabilities must be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate based on the student’s needs. This is known as the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

How is the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) decided?

The Team (including the parent) determines the least restrictive environment, or placement that meets the student's needs and provides the services identified in the IEP. This means that the student should attend the school they would attend if non-disabled, unless the Team determines that the student's disability requires a different placement providing the opportunity to have a successful educational experience.

What is meant by my child's program or programming?

A child's program is determined by the services outlined on their IEP Service Delivery Grid. Your child's program or programming is not determined by a specific classroom or teacher.

If I have questions or concerns regarding special education, who should I contact?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding special education, you should reach out to Monica Zanin, Director of Student Services, at 413-743-2939 or