Special Education

Student writing a note while sitting at the computer
Sycamore Community School District 427 provides a free, appropriate public education to students with disabilities who are eligible and between the ages of 3 through 21 years old. The office of student services arranges for an array of services and supports designed to meet a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in the least restrictive environment.

Students between the ages of 3 and 5 years old who reside within school district boundaries may participate in a developmental screening through Sycamore’s Little Spartans Early Learning Program. This screening will determine whether the child is meeting developmental milestones in the areas of speech and language, academic readiness, social emotional readiness, and motor skills. If difficulties are detected from the screening, an evaluation may be initiated, with parental consent, in order to identify possible special education eligibility. To schedule a developmental screening, please visit the Little Spartans Early Learning Program website for more information.

For students currently enrolled at a school within the District's boundaries (including private or parochial and home school students), the school team or family may request that the student be formally evaluated to determine if the child is eligible for special education services. If a family suspects that their student has a disability, a letter should be submitted to the building principal that outlines their concern and request for an evaluation. If the student is a home-schooled student, the request should be sent to the Director of Student Services. To determine whether the student requires an evaluation, the school team may utilize screening data, prior standardized assessments, current grades, social emotional information and progress monitoring data if applicable. The school team will either agree to or deny the request, in writing to the family, within 14 school days.

Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

IDEA is a federal law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities. IDEA provides school districts with federal funds to help make special education services available for students with disabilities. It also provides very specific requirements to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities.

A comprehensive process is followed to determine whether a student is eligible for specialized education. To qualify for services under IDEA, a qualifying disability must adversely impact the student's educational progress and require specially designed instruction. It is important to note that not all students with a disability will be eligible for special education services. A student may be found eligible for these services under one or more of the following categories as deemed by the outcomes of an evaluation:

Autism; deaf-blindness; deafness; emotional disturbance; hearing impairment; intellectual disability; multiple disabilities; orthopedic impairment; other health impairment; specific learning disability; speech or language impairment; traumatic brain injury; visual impairment, including blindness.

 

Evaluation

In order to receive special education services, a comprehensive evaluation of the student must be completed. The evaluation process follows defined regulations to determine if a student has a disability and if the student requires special education and related services. During the evaluation process, the District must consider the need to complete assessments in the following domains:

  • Academic performance
  • Functional performance
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Communication
  • Health
  • Hearing and vision
  • Motor abilities
  • Social and emotional status

Families must sign consent for the evaluation process to begin. Then, the school team must complete the evaluation and convene a meeting within 60 school days.

At this meeting, the results of the evaluation will be reviewed and considered by the school team and the student’s family. These results will be utilized to determine whether the student is, or continues to be, eligible for special education and related services as a student with a disability as defined by federal and state law and the student’s educational needs. A copy of this full eligibility report will be provided to the family.

Special Education and Related Services

The primary service approaches are determined by a student's IEP team. Each service falls under one of four categories: resource, instructional, related services, or transition.

Resource

Resource services consist of specialized instruction provided in the general education setting. This may include direct small group instruction, co-taught classes, or a blended approach.

Instructional

Instructional classes provide a replacement curriculum aligned with the grade-level curriculum and Common Core State Standards. Students requiring this level of programming may have a blended schedule consisting of instructional classes and mainstream general education classes.

Related Services

Related services are recommended through the IEP team. Related services require an evaluation to identify if these services are required on a student’s IEP. The IEP team determines related services based on eligibility. A student may be found eligible for related services such as speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, orientation and mobility, or hearing or vision itinerant.

Transition

Students with disabilities have the right to receive special education services through age 21 if they have not received their diploma and their educational needs require ongoing instruction in order to transition to adult life. Students eligible for transition services receive programming in our Life School Program.