What do I do if I believe my child may have a disability?

Parents who suspect their child has an exceptionality or who have concerns regarding a child's existing individualized education program should contact the school directly and schedule a conference with the classroom or special education teacher to discuss any concerns or questions. Additionally, the principal and/or school counselor at each school are available to assist with the child’s educational plan. Should a parent still have questions that remain unanswered, the Pupil Services Office can be reached directly at (570) 842-3957.

What would make my child be considered exceptional?

An exceptional student is one who has undergone categorical testing for a comprehensive evaluation and has one of the thirteen designated disabilities by IDEA:

  • Autism
  • Deafness or Blindness
  • Developmental Delays
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Mental Retardation
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairments
  • Other Health Impairments
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Speech and Language Impairments
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairments

Exceptional students may also be identified as gifted, either with or without one of the disabilities listed above.

Does my child's disability automatically qualify them for supports and services?

Not all disabilities result in the provision of supports and services. The process specified by law is designed to identify not only the disability, but how it affects a student and their attainment of educational success. Students with disabilities who do not qualify for supports and services through pupil services may be provided for as a Protected Handicapped Student under the requirements of section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Chapter 15 of state regulations Title 22. Students with an identifiable disability which limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program can be provided with modifications and adaptations through a Chapter 15 Service Agreement, commonly referred to as a "504 Plan."

How should I prepare for an IEP meeting for my child?

Either the parent or school personnel may initiate an IEP meeting. Look over the information you have about your child and write down any questions or concerns you may have. The IEP conference is an excellent opportunity to ask these questions and to discuss any concerns. School staff can respond and also be provided any additional information you can share. The program being designed is based on the child's needs. If you don't agree with something, let the team know. If you feel the teachers are doing a nice job, let them know that also. Teachers who will be working with your child will be assessing his or her progress on a continuing basis. They will report this progress to you on a quarterly basis.

A child's progress must also be reviewed each year at a new IEP meeting. Parents are a part of that review team. At the review meeting, a new IEP will be developed for the next IEP year. Remember that even though the IEP review meeting typically occurs annually, parents have the right to request a new IEP meeting anytime they feel their child's educational needs are not being met. When you have concerns, talk to your teacher or principal. They can help you decide if the IEP team needs to be brought together again to discuss the need for programmatic changes.

How is disability-related information about my child handled?

This information, like all student information, is treated as confidential, as governed by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). To learn more about FERPA, click here.

What role do parents play in this process?

Parents always have a very important role to play in the education of a child, and that is especially true for children with a disability. Parents also specific rights with regard to the legally-mandated processes followed by the Pupil Services Office. To help parents, PaTTAN has a number of publications with information targeted specifically at parents. Click the links below to learn more.

Pennsylvania Parent Guide to Special Education for School Age Children

Parent Rights: Understanding the Procedural Safeguards Notice