Special Education FAQ

  • Timelines

    1. How many days does the District have to respond to a parent request for special education assessment?
      1. 15 calendar days* (Frequently, the school site will schedule a Student Study Team (SST) meeting within the 15 days to discuss parent concerns and review student’s school data)
      2. District will provide one of two responses:
        1. Prior Written Notice (PWN) and a proposed assessment plan and agrees to conduct the special education evaluation
        2. Prior Written Notice informing the parent the District is not in agreement to conduct a special education evaluation
    2. How many days does the District have to schedule and hold an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting when a parent requests an IEP meeting?
      1. 30 calendar days*
    3. What if a parent asks for an “emergency IEP meeting?”
      1. The District still has 30 calendar days; however, we would try to hold it as soon as possible to address parents' concerns.
    4. How many days do we have to complete special education assessments?
      1. 60 calendar days* from the date we receive the signed parent consent
    5. Who should the parent contact if a timeline has not been met?
      1. Your child’s school principal and case manager

    *Timelines are paused when school is on break for more than 5 consecutive days


    IEP Meeting

    1. Who are required IEP team members?
      1. General education (GE) teacher, special education teacher, CVUSD administrator (e.g. Principal, Assistant Principal, Administrator Designee, Special Education Director, etc.) and parents
      2. If the student has related services on the IEP, those service providers are also required.
    2. Is a general education teacher required to attend an IEP meeting if the student is in special education classes most or all of the day?
      1. Yes, a general education teacher is a required IEP team participant.
    3. Can the site administrator or GE teacher from the IEP meeting be excused from the IEP meeting? 
      1. Site administrator, or CVUSD administrator, cannot be excused from an IEP meeting.  An administrator is required to participate throughout the meeting.
      2. A general education teacher can only be excused with prior parent approval.  If a GE teacher is not available (they might call in sick, or something else unexpected happens), the parent can request to reschedule the IEP or provide approval at the IEP meeting for the GE teacher’s absence.  Only parent approval allows any IEP member to be excused from an IEP meeting.
    4. When a student has multiple services (e.g. occupational therapy, adapted physical education, speech and language), are all of them required to come to every IEP meeting?
      1. Yes, unless parent provides prior written (email suffices) approval to excuse the participant and if the related service area of that provider is not being discussed in the meeting.
    5. Who is responsible for scheduling the IEP meeting?
      1. The student’s case manager.  A case manager is most commonly a special education teacher.  If a child only has Speech and Language eligibility and services on the IEP, then the speech therapist is the case manager.
    6. Are there limitations on the time of day when an IEP meeting can be scheduled?
      1. In order to ensure the required IEP team members participate, the IEP meeting shall be scheduled during their contract work hours.  Teacher contract hours are 30 minutes before school starts through the end of the instructional day.
    7. Can a parent invite a paraeducator to the IEP meeting?
      1. Parents can invite anybody they prefer to attend the IEP meeting. 
      2. Attending IEP meetings is not in the paraeducator job description and the District cannot require that a paraeducator attend an IEP meeting.
    8. Can a parent audio and video record the IEP meeting?
      1. The parent can audio record the IEP meeting and must provide the District with written notice (e.g. email) 24 hour notice to do so.  Video recording is not permitted.
    9. What is the difference between an annual IEP and a triennial IEP?
      1. An annual IEP is a time for the IEP team to review the student’s progress on goals, propose new goals and discuss special education services and supports and access to general education.
      2. A triennial IEP is a time for the IEP team to review updated special education assessments (with parent consent) to review special education eligibility and present levels of performance.  The team will also review progress on prior goals, propose new goals (if still eligible), discuss services and supports and access to general education.
    10. Is it possible for my child to have both an annual and a triennial in the same academic year?
      1. Yes.  This happens when the annual date takes place before it is legally due (one year out from the initial IEP date.)  The triennial IEP due date is 3 years from the initial IEP date, not from the annual date.  As you can see, this is confusing.  Nonetheless, it is possible.
      2. Best practice is to combine the annual IEP date and the triennial IEP date into one meeting.  This most often means the triennial IEP date is moved up sooner into the school year to be at the annual IEP meeting date timeline.  However, it is important to note that special education assessors carry a large workload and at times it is not possible for the triennial assessment to be completed before it is due. 


    Special Education Assessments

    1. Can I have my child tested by a private assessor and provide that to the school district for my child to be special education eligible?
      1. School district staff are responsible for conducting the special education assessments to gather data, which is discussed in an initial IEP meeting, about whether or not the child meets special education eligibility.
      2. A private assessment may be provided to the District, but it will not be used to determine eligibility.  The information can be used in conjunction with the District assessment.
    2. Who decides what tests are administered and which categories of eligibility are considered?
      1. The District assessors (e.g. School Psychologist, Speech Therapist, Special Education Teacher, etc.) determine which tests to administer based upon the reason for referral, how the student responds to the assessments and which assessments will provide the most meaningful, valid and reliable data. 
      2. The category(ies) of eligibility are determined based upon reason for referral plus information obtained during the assessment process.  Assessors are guided by the data and are responsible for considering all areas of suspected disability.



    1. What is SAI?
      1. Specialized Academic Instruction- this is instruction provided by a credentialed special education teacher.
    2. Do both moderate/severe and mild/moderate teachers provide SAI?
      1. Yes- all special education teachers provide SAI.
    3. What about learning center teachers, do they provide SAI?
      1. Yes- all special education teachers provide SAI.
    4. How do special education teachers know what SAI they should provide?
      1. IEP goals define the SAI focus.  If the goals are in reading, then the SAI provided is targeted reading instruction.  If the goals are in computation, then the SAI provided is in math/computation.
    5. What does RSP mean if special education teachers teach SAI?
      1. Resource Specialist Program (RSP) is an Education Code (Ed Code) term and is interpreted to reflect mild to moderate special education support to a student who spends the majority of their time in general education.  
      2. Another term used for RSP is Learning Centers - students who access Learning Centers spend 50% or more of their time in general education.
      3. RSP/Learning Center is considered a mild to moderate special education intervention
    6. How is SDC defined?
      1. Special Day Class is an Ed Code term and is interpreted to reflect a student who spends more than 50% of their time in special education.  A Special Day Class can be both mild to moderate and moderate to severe.  In CVUSD, we use SDC and “Specialized Programs” terms.
      2. Historically, SDC also represented self-contained classrooms.  If a student accessed their education by spending more than 50% of their time in a special education setting, then the student is considered placed into an SDC (mild/mod or mod/severe). 
      3. In CVUSD we have students at the SDC level (spending more than 50% of their day in special education), but not in a self-contained classroom, which has created confusion for parents and staff. 
        1. This primarily occurs at middle school and high school sites because SAI is offered in non-IEP goal areas (e.g. Biology, U.S. History).  Consequently, students with an IEP take more special education sections (beyond their goal areas), pushing them over the 50% threshold from RSP into SDC.
    7. What is a self-contained classroom (SCC) and how is that different than SDC?
      1. Self-contained classroom typically means that one teacher teaches the same, or mostly the same, group of students for SAI consistent with the student’s IEP. As opposed to students who access their SAI minutes from different special education teachers throughout the day. The SCC/Specialized Program is a designated classroom with built in supports and strategies designed to support the students throughout the school day.
      2. SCC can be different from SDC, in CVUSD, in that a student might spend more than 50% of their time in a special education setting, but it is with different teachers and classmates and therefore not in a self-contained classroom.
    8. Can we offer SAI in science and social studies and other core courses required in middle school and high school?
      1. CVUSD has a continuum of service options for science and social studies including general education, co-taught classes, and in a specialized program. Additionally, if a student requires small group, SAI for all content areas, then the team needs to discuss the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) continuum.  Also, IEP goals are not written for courses, per se, but rather IEP goals are written for skill areas.
      2. A better question might be “Can we accommodate and possibly modify the expectations of students with an IEP in general education?”
        1. Yes.  In fact, we should always first maximize all accommodations and modifications in general education before recommending pull-out to special education.
      3. Can a student eligible only for Speech and Language Impairment (SLI) be offered Specialized Academic Instruction?
        1. That is possible, but it should be based upon data.  All services offered need to be tied to assessment data that would inform us about goal areas and services are offered based upon goals.



    1. Does a student need to have an Emotional Disturbance eligibility to be offered/placed into a Social Emotional Support (SES) program?
      1. No, they do not.
      2. The decision to place a student in a SES program should be based upon: goals, a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) information, and the team’s input as to the best educational setting for the student to learn. 
      3. Eligibility category tells us the student has a disability, but it does not fully capture the areas of intervention and needs.
      4. Students placed into the programs should have similar needs, otherwise the integrity of the program is diminished.
    2. How do parents request a different special education program if the parent does not think the current site/program can meet his/her needs at our school site?
      1. A request for a change of placement is an IEP team discussion at an IEP meeting.  The first step is to request an IEP meeting.
    3. Are there descriptions of the different special education programs for me to read?
      1. Yes, here is a link to the main website.
    4. Can I request that my child not be placed into a specialized program?
      1. Yes, a parent can make that request, just as they can make any request. The decision is made by the IEP team, including the parent.


    Certificate vs Diploma - How and when is this determined?

    1. Students with an IEP can complete their education by either receiving a certificate of completion or a high school diploma.  Which one the student receives is an IEP team discussion and decision. 
    2. The discussion about which track the student will take should begin no later than middle school.
    3. Variables taken into consideration are: independent living skills, goal areas (functional goals versus academic/state standard goals), fulfillment of CDE course requirements to obtain a diploma, etc.
    4. If a student is in an SDC in elementary- does that equate to them being on a certificate of completion track?
      1. No.  However, the IEP team should discuss the student’s skill level compared to state standards so that with each grade the parents are informed about how close, or distant, the student’s skills are to state standards and diploma completion requirements.



    1. What are the advantages to having a student receive SAI in the general education setting?
      1. General education teachers obtain their credential in the specific areas they teach - they are content experts (special education teachers can also be content experts, yet their primary responsibility is to teach SAI and their credential is in targeted skill intervention, not content area).  Accessing the course content in general education has proven to have increased learning and achievement outcomes for students.
      2. With co-teaching, the special education teacher ensures the general education content is accommodated/adapted (and if necessary modified) to create access for the student requiring SAI.
      3. Although a student with an IEP, who is in a co-taught class, might not be able to demonstrate the same degree of mastery as peers without an identified disability, the exposure to the content, social opportunities, and vocabulary provide building blocks for future learning.


    Additional Co-Teaching FAQ linked here


    Evidence in IEP Meetings

    1. What data/evidence is required to prove student made progress on IEP goals?
      1. Parents have a right to request evidence that shows their child made progress on the goals.  Therefore, when writing goals, it is to everybody’s advantage to be detailed about how the goal will be measured.  Examples: work samples, formative assessments, teacher-made assessments, time-sampling observation data, etc.
      2. It is advisable for staff to bring evidence (examples above) to annual and triennial IEP meetings to show parents how progress on the goal was measured and determined.
      3. When writing goals, think about what evidence you will be able to bring to the IEP to indicate progress on the goal.  If the goal is written in a manner that does not equate to clear evidence- then the goal should be re-written.


    Report Cards/Grades

    1. Can we modify grades on report cards?
      1. Yes- only if the IEP spells out what courses/curriculum area is modified and spells out what the student will be graded on (see “Classroom Accommodation and Modification” page of the IEP).  If this is not detailed in the IEP, then the grade cannot be modified.
    2. Can we list the accommodations the student accesses on the report card?
      1. No- accommodations are only listed on the “Classroom Accommodation and Modification” page of the IEP.
      2. The grade the student receives reflects performance assuming all the accommodations were used.


    Is there another parent I can speak to?

    1. If you would like to talk to another parent of a student with an IEP, please reach out to the Special Education District Advisory Council (SEDAC) parent representative at your child’s school site.  The Principal has that parent’s name and number. 
      1. SEDAC meetings are held each month and public comment is welcome.  Here is a link to the meeting calendar.


    If at any time you have any concerns or questions, please contact the Special Education Department and request to speak with:

    Ms. Dawn Thomas, Director of Special Education, Secondary or Dr. Erin Roderick, Director of Special Education, Preschool/Elementary at 805-497-9511