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Special Education Overview

Special Education:
The term “special education” refers to specially designed instruction and related services that meet the unique needs of an eligible student with a disability. Frequently, it also includes a specific service need that is necessary to allow an eligible student with a disability to access the general curriculum. Regardless of the type of instruction or support that is provided, special education is provided by school districts at no cost to caregivers. This also includes students attending private schools or those being homeschooled.

In Massachusetts, the delivery of special education is guided by both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the state’s special education law (MGL c. 71B). These laws underscore the need for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that is designed to meet the unique needs of students eligible for special education services. They also outline protections to ensure that students receive regular, appropriate, and comprehensive evaluations. IDEA is a reauthorization of initial Public Law 94-142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975) that defines special education as “specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” Reauthorizations of IDEA occurred in 1990 and 2004.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, eligible students with disabilities receive services based on their individual needs, and they are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A FAPE has been interpreted through case law to mean that students are entitled to receive services necessary to help them advance from grade to grade. Additionally, all students from age three (3) through age twenty-one (21) are eligible to be provided a free and appropriate public education.

Because each child has an individual set of needs, Lynn Public Schools has a vast array of programs and services. Additionally, it employs an experienced staff of service providers, including school psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, behavioral specialists, teachers, and paraprofessionals, to ensure that eligible students are supported. At Lynn Public Schools, we strive to support the intellectual, social-emotional, and physical development of our learners by creating opportunities for exploration in safe, nurturing, and least restrictive environments. Our work is built on the foundation of culturally responsive practices and collaboration with students, caregivers, and the community.