Special Education Eligibility

9/16/20201 min read

Special education programs are regulated by both federal and state law. State and federal law are the same in most cases, and a state can never limit the protections offered by federal law. But state law can provide more specific protections than federal law. In general, to qualify for special education in California, (i) the child must have one or more eligible disabilities; (ii) the disability must negatively affect her/his educational performance; and (iii) the disability must require special education and related services. Children who have one of the following disabilities and need specialized educational services have the right to receive special education and related services: intellectual disabilities; hearing impairments (including deafness); speech or language impairments; visual impairments (including blindness); emotional disturbance; orthopedic impairment; autism; traumatic brain injury; other health impairments; specific learning disabilities; developmental delay. For children between the ages of 5 and 18, age does not limit a student’s eligibility for special education. Children younger than 5 are only eligible for special education if they have been identified by a local educational agency as needing intensive or early childhood special education. Students between the ages of 18 and 22 are only eligible if they have not finished high school. Your child may have a medical diagnosis for a disability and still not qualify for special education. A child's disability must also require instruction and/or services which cannot be provided with modification of the regular school program. A child may not be eligible for special education if his or her educational needs are primarily due to limited English proficiency, a lack of instruction in reading or math, temporary physical disabilities, social maladjustment, or environmental, cultural, or economic factors.