Why is my child struggling in school?
When children are struggling in school, it’s important to find out why. It may be that a disability is affecting your child’s educational performance. If so, your child may be eligible for special education and related services that can help. Please speak with your school’s Special Education Department about having your child evaluated.
As a first step, the school may need to try interventions in the regular education classroom and modify instructional practices before referring your child for special education evaluation.
What is special education?
Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of children who have disabilities. Special education and related services are provided in public schools at no cost to the parents and can include special instruction in the classroom, at home, in hospitals or institutions, or in other settings. [Learn more about what special education is]
Children receive special education instruction and services specially designed:
- to meet his or her unique needs (that result from having a disability); and
- to help the child learn the information and skills that other children are learning in the general education curriculum.
Who is eligible for special education?
Children with disabilities are eligible for special education and related services when they meet the definition of a “child with a disability” from the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in combination with state and local policies. IDEA’s definition of a “child with a disability” lists 13 different disability categories under which a child may be found eligible for special education and related services. [Learn more about who is eligible]
What happens during an evaluation?
Evaluating your child means more than the school just giving your child a test. The school must evaluate your child in all the areas where your child may be affected by the possible disability. This may include looking at your child’s health, vision, hearing, social and emotional well-being, general intelligence, performance in school, and how well your child communicates with others and uses his or her body. The evaluation must be individualized (just your child) and full and comprehensive enough to determine if your child has a disability and to identify all of your child’s needs for special education and related services if it is determined that your child has a disability. [Learn more about evaluation]
The HFM BOCES Special Education Division offers students with disabilities a variety of educational programs and related services. This division is committed to the development and continuation of programs that assist students with disabilities to become productive members of society.
Our special education classes are designed according to NYS Part 200 Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. Each is designated as a Special Class with varying student-teacher-paraprofessional ratios. These ratios are listed with the program descriptions that follow.
Students with disabilities often need support beyond classroom instruction. We offer the following support services:
- Behavior Specialist – COSER 319
- Counseling Services
- Interpreter for the Hearing Impaired – COSER 324
- Occupational Therapy – COSER 314
- Physical Therapy – COSER 313
- Skilled Nursing Services
- Social Work Services
- Speech/Language Therapy
- Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing – COSER 323
- Vision Services – COSER 312
- Work-based Learning – COSER 315
Transition Specialist – COSER 318
The Transition Specialist assists school district staff and parents as they prepare 12-21 year-old students with disabilities to participate fully in adult life within their communities. The Transition Specialist provides information and referral services regarding community resources as they relate to students’ educational, vocational, recreational and/or legal needs. Through the use of assessment tools the Transition Specialist works with students to identify their strengths and interests, as they relate to future career choices. Training and technical assistance are provided to districts to ensure compliance with federal and state mandates, as well as to ensure student needs are being met.
A note about student privacy
The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows schools to disclose certain “directory information” about students such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, participation in athletics, honors and awards, photographs and dates of attendance unless parents have advised the BOCES to the contrary.
HFM BOCES uses this directory information in our publications (print publications, BOCES website, social media outlets) and to publicize our specific educational programs and student accomplishments to the electronic (television) and print (newspaper) media.
Parents not wishing information about their child to be used in district publications, releases to the media or on the BOCES website or social media should use this Photo Opt Out Form, or write a letter to the director of HFM BOCES Special Education program. The signed and dated letter should state that directory information about (name of student) should not be released under FERPA. You do not have to give a reason. Opt-out requests must be submitted each year.