Shaping the Future.  One Child at a Time.

Special Education

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Special Education?

If you suspect your child has a unique need, they may require special education services and supports. Those needs will need to be determined and if needed, a program to meet your child's needs must be designed and carried out.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that requires states to ensure that all eligible children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education. Schools must provide eligible children with specialized supports and services to address their educational needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

How is my Student Eligible?

In order for a student to be eligible for special education services, the student must meet two requirements. First, the student must be identifies as having one of the thirteen disabilities listed in the IDEA: 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, or visual impairment.

Second, the student must also require specially designed instruction as determined by an evaluation team. Specially designed instruction refers to special methods, equipment, materials, and adaptations that are needed for students to be successful in school and to achieve their IEP goals.

What is the Screening and Evaluation process?

The special education process begins when a teacher and/or parent suspects that the child has a disability and refers the child for an evaluation. A school psychologist will evaluate your child to determine if they qualify for special education services and, if so, what services should be provided.

Bethlehem Area School District is required to have in place a screening process that identifies students who may need extra support in the general education classroom. Once learning needs are identified, teams of general, remedial, and special education teachers design and implement academic and behavioral interventions to address the needs of at-risk students (some districts refer to this as Response to Instruction and Intervention). Student progress is regularly monitored to determine if the interventions are effective.

Your child may qualify for and Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP), or a Chapter 15/504 Service Plan

What is an Individualized Education Programs (IEP)?

If your child is found to be eligible to receive special education services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting is held, during which the IEP team creates the child's IEP. The IEP must include, the child's parent(s), a general education teacher, a special education teacher, a school representative who has the authority to make decisions regarding the provision of services, and someone who can interpret the results of the evaluation. The IEP team determines the types and intensity of special education supports and services to be provided.

What is a Gifted Individualized Education Plan?

If your child is found to be eligible to receive gifted education services, a Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP) meeting is held, during which the GIEP team creates the child's (GIEP). The GIEP must include, the child's parent(s), a general education teacher, a gifted education teacher, a school representative who has the authority to make decisions regarding the provision of services, and someone who can interpret the results of the evaluation. The GIEP team determines the types and intensity of special education supports and services to be provided.

What is a Chapter 15/504 Service Plan?

Chapter 15 of the school code covers protected handicapped students, as a group. Chapter 15 is sometimes called section 504 plan, which is the federal name for this program. The goal of Chapter 15/504 is to provide protected handicapped students, without discrimination, related services and accommodations that are needed to allow for equal opportunity to participate in the school program. Students must meet the requirements, which include being school age with a physical or mental handicap that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program.

What is the NOREP/NORA?

Once you have developed an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP) with the team, you will receive a Notice of Recommended Education Placement (NOREP for Special Education) or a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA for Gifted Education). This document will explain the education placement or class recommended for your child and explains your rights. You must approve the IEP or the GIEP and educational placement in writing for your child's educational placement. Before the school is allowed to begin implementation.

Who should I contact if I have any additional questions?

If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact your child's building principal, guidance counselor, or respective special education office whose phone numbers and/or emails can be located on our special education contact page.