SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW GLOSSARY
3-Prong Burlington/Carter Test: The test that is used to determine if a parent is entitled to tuition reimbursement/funding. The district has the burden of proving that it offered the student a FAPE. If it fails to do so, the burden shifts to the parent to prove that their program is appropriate, AND that the equities favor an award of tuition reimbursement/funding.
10-Day Notice: Statutorily required notice that must be given by parents at least 10 business days prior to placing their child in a private school/program.
10-Day Notice Letter: A letter that must be sent to the district at least 10 business days prior to the student starting in a private program for which the parents intend to seek funding/reimbursement.
12-month School Year: Some special education students require an Extended School Year (“ESY”). These students are entitled to a 12-month IEP and program, which includes summer services, as opposed to just the traditional 10-month school year. The 12-month school year begins on July 1st each year, and the 10-month school year begins on September 1st. The school year ends for every student, each year on June 30th. A 12-month school year has 46 weeks of instruction, and a 10-month school year has 40 weeks of instruction.
Approved Non-Public School: Schools that receive funding from the State of New York, which are considered neither public, nor private. These schools can be recommended to students with disabilities for whom an appropriate public program cannot be found. School districts can place a student in one of these schools and fund his or her placement there; in New York City, this is accomplished through a process known as deferring a case to CBST.
Behavior Intervention Plan (“BIP”): A plan to manage and modify a student’s behavior developed using the findings of an FBA.
Carter aka Reimbursement Case: A “traditional” case where parents sue for reimbursement of the costs that they already paid upfront towards their child’s tuition and services.
Center Based Program: A funded self-contained special education program for CPSE preschool students.
Central Based Support Team (“CBST”): The office within the NYC DOE that attempts to place a student at an approved non-public school when his or her needs cannot be met in a public school setting.
Committee on Special Education (“CSE”): Committee which develops IEPs and programs for students with disabilities. In the NYC DOE, there are 10 regions, each with their own CSE and CSE Chairperson. This split is done purely for administrative reasons given the size of the district – New York City is one school district despite the 10 CSE offices.
Committee on Preschool Special Education (“CPSE”): The section of the CSE devoted to serving preschool students, aged 3 to 5. The CPSE is responsible for students through the August of the calendar year in which they turn 5, then the CSE takes over. Each CSE has a CPSE office.
Compensatory Education: Services and/or funding/reimbursement for services to make up for a denial of FAPE during past years.
Continuum of Services: The spectrum of services (from least restrictive to most restrictive) available on the district’s menu of options.
Classified: When a child is determined to be a “student with a disability” in need of an IEP. Students in CPSE are all given the same classification: preschool student with a disability. Once they enter CSE, students are given one of the following thirteen classifications: Autism, Deafness, Deaf-Blindness, Emotionally Disturbed (“ED”), Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability (“ID”) – formally known as Mental Retardation (“MR”), Learning Disability (“LD”), Multiple Disabilities, Other Health Impairment (“OHI”), Orthopedic Impairment, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Visual Impairment.
Connors aka Prospective aka Direct Funding Case: A case where a family is allowed to have their tuition and/or services "directly funded" by the district, meaning that rather than pay upfront and wait for reimbursement, the family can possibly pay only a deposit or make small installment payments while they wait for their case to be won, or their settlement to be finalized. When the money comes in, it is then paid directly to the school and/or service provider(s). The school and/or service provider(s) must agree to be paid in this way, and the family must meet certain minimum income requirements to qualify for Connors funding.
Declassified: When the CSE determines that a student is no longer in need of an IEP or special education supports.
District: Though New York City is a single school district, the number of students it must serve means that it is divided into several smaller administrative districts. These smaller districts are grouped together into 10 regions. Each region has its own CSE.
District 75: A service district separate from the other geographical districts in New York City that serves the most severely disabled students in the city.
Equitable Considerations: The third prong of the 3-prong Burlington/Carter test used to determine if a parent is entitled to tuition reimbursement/funding. A parent’s award can be denied or reduced if the equities are not in their favor, meaning that they failed to give proper notice to the district, cooperate with the district, share private evaluations, remain open to a public school program etc.
FAPE (“Free Appropriate Public Education”): Every student with a disability in the nation is entitled to a FAPE, and each school district is charged with proving that they have met this requirement.
Functional Behavior Assessment (“FBA”): An assessment conducted by a trained professional that pinpoints a student’s negative behaviors, and the functions and triggers of those behaviors. The FBA is then used to create a BIP for the child.
Hearing Officer: An administrative law judge assigned to hear special education cases filed under the IDEA.
Hearing Office: All hearings for cases filed against the NYC DOE, are held in conference rooms on the second floor of the DOE administrative building located at 131 Livingston St. in downtown Brooklyn.
Home Program: Home or community-based services received by a special education student outside of school. These can be in place of a school program, or as a supplement to it. A home program is not to be confused with home schooling (when a special education or general education student is educated at home following strict rules set out by the district); or home instruction (when a student is being educated at home because he or she is too ill to be educated in school, or he or she is awaiting a placement).
IEP Meeting: A meeting, including parents, CSE members, teachers, evaluators, and service providers, to develop an IEP and determine the program to be recommended for the student.
Impartial Hearing: The administrative proceeding convened to adjudicate claims filed by parents alleging that their school district to violated their child’s rights under the IDEA. Though many of the rules of procedure and evidence are relaxed at an impartial hearing, it is a judicial proceeding with witnesses, direct examination, cross examination, evidence, etc.
Impartial Hearing Request (“IHR”) aka Demand aka Due Process Complaint (“DPC”): The document, usually filed by an attorney, which initiates your case against the school district, and lists all of your claims. Filing an impartial hearing request is filing a lawsuit.
Individual Education Program (“IEP”): A document that lays out the program of a student classified with a disability. The IEP includes the student’s mandated class ratio and related services, as well as present levels of performance and goals, among other things.
Individual Education Services Program (“IESP”): A document that lays out the program of a student classified with a disability in need of only services from the district, either because he or she is in a general education class, his or her parents are paying for private tuition at their own expense, or he or she is being homeschooled. A student given an IESP WILL NOT be given any school placement options to consider, and parents who request an IESP are not entitled to reimbursement or funding for tuition.
Independent Educational Evaluation (“IEE”): An evaluation conducted by someone not employed or contracted by the district.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”): The federal statute governing special education for the entire nation. All tuition/services reimbursement cases for students with disabilities alleging a denial of FAPE are filed under the IDEA.
Integrated Co-Teaching Program (“ICT”) aka Collaborative Team Teaching (“CTT”): An inclusion classroom in which about 2/3 of the class are general education students, and the other 1/3 have IEPs. The class is co-taught with by a general education and a special education teacher.
Least Restrictive Environment (“LRE”): The requirement that special education each student with a disability is to be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible and appropriate for that student. Contrary to what many school districts often tell parents, families are not required to “try out” less restrictive programs that are inappropriate on their face before moving to a more restrictive program.
Office of Pupil Transportation (“OPT”): The office within the NYC DOE that handles bussing to and from school for all students in the district, including special education students attending private schools.
Parentally Placed: When a child is placed in a private program or placement at the parents’ expense. Parentally placing your child means that you will not be looking to the district for reimbursement or funding. School districts often use “parentally place” and “unilaterally place” interchangeably, they are not the same thing, and if they state that you have parentally placed your child when, in fact, you have unilaterally placed him or her, you should correct them.
Pendency: A student’s right to remain in their last mutually agreed-upon program until their case is concluded. A hearing request must be filed, and a case initiated, in order to invoke pendency.
Placement: The specific location where a student’s program is to be implemented and carried out. This is not to be confused with program.
Placement Offer: A document from the district which identifies the placement to which the student is assigned. Outside of New York City, the placement is often specified on the IEP itself. In New York City, the placement always comes separately, after the IEP meeting, and sometimes it is buried within a document, and is not obvious at first glance. Read everything that comes from the district carefully!
Program: The class size ratio of students to adults, and related service plan, including group sizes and frequencies, mandated on a student’s IEP, as well as any other modifications, accommodations etc. written on the document. This is not to be confused with placement.
Rejection Letter: A letter written by parents to the school district explaining why an offered placement is not appropriate for their child.
Related Service Authorization (“RSA”): A voucher for related services given by the NYC DOE to students entitled to services, but who cannot receive them in a public school setting, because there are not enough providers at their school, they attend a private school, they are being homeschooled, etc. An RSA entitles the student to receive their services privately, outside of school, but only at the DOE’s approved rate and from providers willing to be paid directly by the district.
Resolution Meeting: A meeting that must be convened by the district within 15 days of the filing of a case that is meant to address, and attempt to resolve, the claims raised in the parents’ impartial hearing request. In New York City, this meeting is often waived by both sides as the NYC DOE representatives assigned to handle such meetings CANNOT resolve claims for money, though they can (upon agreement) agree to reconvene your child’s IEP meeting, order evaluations and assessments, and issue RSAs, among other things. Outside the city, Resolution Meetings CAN be used to explore a possible a monetary settlement. If resolution is not fruitful, or never takes place, this does not mean your case cannot still be resolved through a settlement.
Resolution Period: The 30-day period following the filing of an impartial hearing request during which the school district is required to convene a resolution meeting.
Special Education Itinerant Teacher (“SEIT”): A special education teacher assigned to work 1:1 with a student, either in a school setting, at home, or both. School districts will only recommend a SEIT for preschool students.
Special Education Teacher Support Services (“SETSS”): A service for school-aged students similar to resource room. Generally, one teacher is assigned to instruct a small group of students either within, or outside the classroom.
Special Transportation: Transportation to and from school/services that includes accommodations for a child with a disability (such as, air conditioning, limited travel time, a transportation paraprofessional, a lift bus to for a wheel chair etc.). Specialized transportation must be specified on the student’s IEP. All students with a disability are entitled to non-special transportation to/from special education programs and services within 50 miles of their home, whether or not it’s specified on their IEP. However, in order to avoid issues with the transportation office, it is advisable to get it listed on your child’s IEP just in case.
Social History: A short report generated based on a parent interview (which can often be held over the phone). The social history describes topics such as the student’s educational and medical history, family composition, home environment etc.
State Review Officer (“SRO”): An individual who reviews decisions issued by an impartial hearing officer that have come before them on appeal. Both parents and school districts are entitled to appeal losing decisions to the SRO. Any decisions by the SRO can be appealed in New York State court, or Federal District Court. Most special education attorneys in New York appeal SRO decisions in Federal Court.
Unilaterally Placed: When a child is placed in a private school or program because the school district failed to provide them with a FAPE, and he or she will remain in the private placement, unless and until the school district offers an appropriate program. Unilaterally placing your child means that you can seek funding/reimbursement from the school district.
Withdrawal from public school: A student’s parents are no longer considering public school; therefore, the school district will not present them with any program options, and the parents are solely responsible for any private tuition or the costs of any private program (including services). Withdrawal from public school is NOT the same thing as unilaterally placing your child. When you unilaterally place, you still expect the school district to provide your child with a FAPE, when you withdraw your child, you are not expecting them to do so.