What is Special Education?
It is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. Special education may include, but is not limited to: academic services, speech-language services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, counseling services, and parent education. Special education services are provided at no cost to parents.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) and state regulations require the Hawaii State Department of Education to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE), which includes a continuum of services for students who are eligible for special education and related services.
Special education services are made available to any student ages 3 to 22 who demonstrates a need for specially designed instruction, after an eligibility determination. An evaluation will determine the nature and extent of the student’s needs. Evaluations are comprised of separate assessments which may include: academic performance, communication skills, general intelligence, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, and motor abilities. If a student is eligible for special education, services are provided to the student through an
Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Operation Search is the Department's campaign to find children who may need special education services but who are not receiving them at this time. Any child who resides in Hawaii who is between the ages of 3 and 22 and has met the eligibility criteria may receive special education services. For more information, call Operation Search at (808) 203-5566 or 800-297-2070 statewide.
- For information regarding infants and toddlers between the ages of birth and two years, contact the Hawaii Keiki Information Service System (H-KISS) at (808) 594-0066.
- For youths over 22 years of age, contact the Hawaii State Department of Human Services, Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind Division at (808) 586-5268, or the Hawaii State Department of Health, Case Management and Information Services Branch at (808) 733-9172.
How do I get help for my child?
Contact your child’s home school, which is the neighborhood school that the student attends and request an evaluation. The request can be made by [either]:
- Verbally, in person, or by phone;
- In a written letter, faxed, or e-mailed; or
- On the State of Hawaii Request for Evaluation form obtained from the school.
If completing the Request for Evaluation form, write down all the problems that your child is having, even if you may not consider them educational problems. Return the form to the school office.
The school may invite the parent to a meeting, consisting of teachers, and possibly the counselor and/or principal, to discuss the student’s needs. The team may review student records, grades, test scores, etc., to determine whether an evaluation is appropriate and to determine what type of assessment(s) is needed. The school will respond within 15 days if an evaluation will or will not be conducted. Parental consent will be required for an evaluation to be conducted. You and your child(ren) have
rights in this process.
Individualized Education Plan
An IEP is a written statement about the educational program for a child with a disability. It serves as a management tool used to ensure that the child receives the needed special education and related services. It also serves as an evaluation device when used to determine the extent of the child's progress toward accomplishing projected goals. It includes:
- a statement of the child's present levels of educational performance;
- a statement of annual goals, including short-term instructional objectives;
- a statement of the specific special education and related services to be provided;
- the extent that the child will be able to participate in regular educational programs;
- the projected dates for initiation of services and the anticipated duration of the services; and
- appropriate objective criteria and evaluation procedures and schedules for determining, on at least an annual basis, whether the objectives are being achieved.
Community Children's Councils: A partnership of parents, school personnel, private providers and other community members, coordinated by the Department, who are concerned with the delivery of services and support to special needs children and families.
Disability & Communication Access Board: For persons with disabilities (Department of Health).
Learning Disabilities Association of Hawaii: The Parent Training & Information Center (PTI) for the state of Hawaii. Its mission is to enhance education, work and life opportunities for children and youth with disabilities by empowering them and their families through information, training and mentoring, and by public outreach and advocacy.
Special Parent Information Network: Information, support and referral to parents of children and young adults with disabilities and the professionals who serve them (sponsored by DOH/Department).