Special Education/Special Needs Education
If your child has a disability, or if you are concerned that your child might have one, the school’s Special Education department is available to meet with parents. Each district has a system for reviewing students’ learning needs to determine if special services are the best option to support each child’s needs.
The Tennessee State Department of Education is committed to providing support to families regarding special education services and regulations in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They provide support links on their Website found at the address below. It is most important to check this site if you are concerned about whether or not your child needs special education services: http://www.tn.gov/education/section/student-support. Click on the Special Education link on the left side of the page.
A list of related links will appear below the Special Education title once you click the Special Education link. A direct link to the Special Education page follows: http://www.tn.gov/education/topic/special-education.
This site also provides updates for parents and educators regarding the most current Tennessee practices and legal requirements related to special education.
For a student identified as needing special education, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be developed; it includes the specifics of the services that a child will receive to support his or her needs as a learner (e.g., reading accommodations, assistive technology, speech therapy). Each spring, the IEP is reviewed by staff members and the parent to identify which services need to be continued, modified, or eliminated to best serve the child’s needs.
Response to Intervention and Instruction (RTI2) is a tiered approach to ensure appropriate practices for working with all students in both General and Special Education. This involves using systematic, research-based strategies of instruction and intervention to provide appropriate support for student learning. Ultimately, it creates a stronger path toward intervening for students who are behind in their learning path. It also works toward effective placement for students with need or who are behind in achieving the level of learning which they should reach for their age, ability, and grade.
- Use the following link for all state resources related to RTI2: http://www.tn.gov/education/section/tdoe-rti2
- This resource within the RTI2 link is specifically intended to help families learn about RTI2 as a support for students’ learning: http://www.tn.gov/education/topic/tdoe2-rti-family
If your student needs support in relation to vision or hearing educational resources, there are numerous links on the State Department of Education Website. Individual districts will also have information available through the Special Education or Health Services departments.
Health and School Safety
Schools are dedicated to providing students a safe, positive learning environment, healthy food choices in keeping with the National School Lunch Program, disaster response procedures, and bullying and drug prevention programs. Each school within a district has information available to parents regarding the specifics of each of these areas. Some school or district Websites have links for these, as well as calendars that may show when special events are held to educate children about areas of concern. Teacher information letters or blogs are another source of information about such events.
The State Department of Education Website includes links to information educating parents about some of these topics.
- Family Resource Centers http://www.tn.gov/education/topic/family-resource-centers
- School Counseling http://www.tn.gov/education/topic/school-counseling
For any student with serious health issues, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that assistance is provided the student. Contact your child’s school to make sure teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators know if your child’s health requires special medical needs. Work with the school to provide the safest way to meet these needs.