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  What to Know and Who to Call



mother and childThe key to becoming an effective partner in your child’s education is to understand not only the process, but to know who to call when you need answers.  As parents raising children with disabilities, we have to become knowledgeable about so many things once our children receive a diagnosis.  We have to know about the nature of the disability, the availability of resources, how to work through complicated medical and school systems. This can all be overwhelming at times.  The intention of this website is to assist you in finding the right answers and to give you guidance on whom to call when you are stuck, don’t understand or just need a little validation. 

It is important to note that all students are members of school communities. Students receiving special education supports and services will typically be involved in both general education and special education.  Parents need to understand that “who to call” is not always special education personnel.

This website will attempt to direct you to the right resource and there are many options available.  Note that since Texas is a state of “local control,” parents have to ask who the appropriate person described in this website is within their individual school districts.  For example, the point of contact in some school districts may be the Diagnostician; in some, it may be a Case Manager.  In others, it will be the classroom teacher.  Communication is key to finding the right person with the right answers.

Also note that reference will be made throughout this website to the following federal laws:

•  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

•  No Child Left Behind Act, and

•  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

  • Let’s get started on getting you to the right place!  So, who are you going to call?
    When you have general questions about your child’s education, you can contact the following people at your child’s school or school district or you can access the many parent resources that are available.  The following list will get you started.  See Links to Resources for more available resources.
  • The Teacher has information about your child's current progress, class routines, behavior issues, and individualized education program (IEP) implementation.
  • The Principal has information about school policies and procedures, school records, schedules, IEP implementation, admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee issues, and discipline procedures.
  • The Special Education Administrator/Director has information about district special education procedures and policies, can provide an explanation of procedural safeguards (rights and responsibilities), can provide clarification on concerns about implementation of the IEP, and can handle the request for an independent educational evaluation.
  • Local Parent Organizations can give you information and training about the way the special education process works.  They are also excellent resources for providing opportunities to network with and gain information from other families and for support.
  • The Office of Special Education Programs in Washington, DC funds Parent Training and Information Centers and Community Parent Resource Centers for each state. Their charge is to educate parents on the special education process.

State and Federal Resources
The following State and Federal Resources (called Guidance Documents) have been developed by State and Federal agencies to provide information about special education.  All of the resources listed below are documents:

  • For children ages birth to 3: Beyond ECI (pdf)
    This booklet helps families make the transition from early childhood intervention (ECI) programs to public school when a child turns three years old and graduates from ECI.
  • For students ages 3 to 21: Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process The Guide is in English and Spanish. Explains the special education process by which an individualized education program (IEP) is developed for a student receiving special education services and the rights and responsibilities of you, the parent. The ARD Guide is intended to be a companion document to, not a replacement for, the Notice of Procedural Safeguards. School districts are required by state law to distribute the document to parents whose child has been referred for special education services and/or any time a parent requests it from the district. It is intended to provide a general overview of the special education process and has been written in parent-friendly language. A school district must provide parents a copy only one time per year.
  • Notice of Procedural Safeguards
    Available in English and Spanish.  Explains the specific rights and responsibilities of the parent in the special education process as required by federal law.  It is required that at a minimum, this document must be given to parents upon: 1. initial referral or your request for evaluation; 2. Receipt of the first special education complaint filed with TEA ; 3. Reevaluation of the child; and 4. Receipt of the first due process hearing complaint in a school year; 4. your request; or 5. when a decision is made to take disciplinary action that constitutes a change of placement. Although written in as parent-friendly language as possible, the document must reflect specific legal procedural safeguards.
  • Related Services Guidance Document
    Explains the roles and responsibilities of the parents and the school district in the provision of related services (the support services needed by a student in order to benefit from special education services). Related services may include occupational therapy, physical therapy, music therapy, orientation and mobility training, travel training, and more.
  • Extended School Year Services Guidance Document
    Explains the roles and responsibilities of the parent and  the school district in the provision of extended school year services (individualized instructional program for eligible students with disabilities that is provided beyond the regular school year).
  • Legal Framework
    Online resource that summarizes state and federal requirements for special education by topic. Schools use the Legal Framework for a variety of management reasons.  Parents typically use the Legal Framework to find specific parts of the law and to better understand the law.
  • No Child Left Behind - The U.S. Department of Education has a variety of resources:
    General Information,  Facts and Terms Every Parent Should Know About NCLB
    A Guide to Education and No Child Left Behind and a Guide for Parental Involvement

Technical Assistance
The following Technical Assistance Resources will provide you with information and refer you to other sources that may more effectively answer your questions or concerns. 

  • Education Service Centers
    Texas is divided by the Texas Education Agency into twenty regions. Each region contains an Education Service Center (ESC). While each ESC offers a variety of services that support public education, each one provides leadership, training, and technical assistance in the area of special education for students with disabilities.  ESCs support  the Texas Education Agency's focus on increasing student achievement. Each ESC serves as first point of contact for school districts, parents, and other community stakeholders, and provides for the joint training of parents and special education, related services, and general education personnel. 
  • Local Parent Organizations
    Many communities across Texas have local organizations that support parents of children with disabilities through information, training and support. It is helpful to families to meet other families who are dealing with similar issues.  The most effective partners in the education process are those parents who are informed and supported.  There are many good sources for finding credible organizations in our large and diverse state. Use this site to direct you to other sources.
  • Parent Training & Information (PTI) Projects
    Partners Resource Network (PRN) is the non-profit agency that is funded by the US Department of Education to administer the three PTI Projects which cover the state of Texas. These projects operate independently but do share some central administrative functions. All of the projects share the common purpose of empowering parents of children and youth with disabilities in their roles as parents, decision makers, and advocates for their children.
  • Special Education Information Center
    Parents can call the Special Education Information Center toll-free at 1-855-SPEDTEX (1-855-773-3839) for answers to their special education questions.  SPEDTex hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 pm.

Other Resources
IDEA 2012 ManualParent Manual
This manual was designed by The Arc of Texas and Disability Rights Texas to help families become familiar with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in an effort to help families become effective partners in planning their children’s educations.  The manual is written in parent friendly language and includes organizational tools and sample letters.  A free copy can be downloaded from www.thearcoftexas.org or www.disabilityrightstx.org.

There are many good resources available to help parents understand the special education process.  Go to Links to Resources for more resources.



Texas Project FIRST is an activity of the Texas Continuing Improvement Process (TCIP) under the auspices of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Region 9 Education Service Center, and is focused on helping to fulfill the goals of TEA and the Parent Training Committee

Special Education Information Center: 1-855-SPEDTEX (1-855-773-3839)

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