Back To School 1 - Page 14 - Where to start in public school

Back To School 1
- Page 14
Where to start in public school
As of 2016, reports the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 6.7 million or 13% of all public school students received special education services, with 34% having learning disabilities. NCES defines a learning disability as a disorder involved in understanding or using spoken or written language.

The federal government has two specific pieces of legislation centered on children with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guarantees children with disabilities have access to the same public education programs, activities and services as classmates without disabilities. For example, a child in a wheelchair needs access to a classroom. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires all eligible children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education.

The public school system must provide more or different education and services to children with disabilities so that the education program is tailored appropriately to their needs. No matter the disability, the overarching concept is that students receive education in the regular classroom environment to the maximum extent possible.

Tapping into a network of services often begins with Child Find, a federal program that identifies and tests children or young adults, age three through 21, who may have developmental or physical disabilities. Educators, therapists or other health care providers, and parents work together to create an Individualized Education program (IEP), a written statement of any special education and related services tied to performance, goals and specific needs. •