Special Education Information
It is the right of all children with disabilities in the United States to have Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This is guaranteed by the federal government under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN (IEP)
FAPE and IDEA mean that all public schools (both district and charter) must create a specialized academic plan, referred to as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), for children with special needs. They must do this within 30 calendar days after the child is determined eligible. However, it is important to remember that just because a child has a disability or impairment, he or she may not automatically qualify for special education services. The IEP process must be followed in order to qualify and receive services.
Facilitated IEP (FIEP) meetings are now available by request through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website. Parents and school personnel are finding that the use of an independent facilitator can assist in the IEP team process. A facilitator is a neutral person who helps guide the student-centered focus of the meeting.
Some students with disabilities may not require an IEP under the IDEA, however, they may qualify for a 504 plan under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A 504 plan is a blueprint or plan for how a child will have access to learning at school. It provides services and changes to the learning environment to meet the needs of the child as adequately as other students.
To qualify for a 504 plan, there are two requirements:
- A child has any disability, which can include many learning or attention issues.
- The disability must interfere with the child’s ability to learn in a general education classroom.
Section 504 has a broader definition of a disability than IDEA. It says a disability must substantially limit one or more basic life activities, such as learning. Therefore, a child who doesn’t qualify for an IEP might still be able to get a 504 plan.
Schools for Exceptional Learners
Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) & Charter Schools
Both KCPS and charter schools offer many special education services to students who live in the KCPS boundaries.
- KCPS: Call (816) 418-8941 or visit them at kcpublicschools.org
- Charters: Contact individual charter schools for information about their special education services
Some private schools in the KCPS boundaries also serve children with special needs. Please check with individual private schools to confirm which schools provide services appropriate for your child.
Missouri Parents Act (MPACT): MPACT’s staff is made up of parents of children with disabilities, therapists and educators who can help to answer some of your questions. Find out about the services offered at MPACT at 1-800-743-7634.
Foundation for Inclusive Religious Education (FIRE): Several local Catholic schools welcome students with special needs into classrooms through the FIRE Foundation. The FIRE Foundation, an independent, non-pro t organization, makes it possible for partner Catholic schools to hire special educators and paraprofessionals and to acquire learning materials and technology that create successful learning experiences for all children. You can learn more about their services and their school partners at firefoundation.org.