Special Education

Special education is specially designed instruction, related services and other supplementary aids to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability at no cost to families. The Department provides these services to anyone aged 3 to 22 who demonstrates a need for specially designed instruction, after an eligibility determination.


School Year 2021-22 Distance Learning Programs

Distance Learning and Implementation of Individualized Education Programs and Section 504 Plans Memo 7.26.2021

Addressing IEP Goals via Distance Learning

Distance Learning Considerations


Addressing the Needs of Students with Disabilities Memo 4.30.2021

Addressing the Needs of Students with Disabilities Flyer

Addressing the Needs of Students with Disabilities Recorded Presentation

Addressing Learning Loss Infographic for Families

Creating Effective Learning Environments for Students with Disabilities (Addressing Learning Loss due to the pandemic through the Hawaii Multi-Tiered System of Supports and high-leverage instructional practices)

Addressing Learning Loss and Provision of COVID-19 Impact Services

Special Parent Information Network (SPIN) Infographics

School Closure Contingency Plan Checklist
Parent Tips for Virtual IEPs
Using Technology to Deliver Related Services

Special Education Guidance and Resources School Year 2021-2022

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. Please review this brochure, Special Education: Is it for Your Child?

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

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. For more information, call Operation Search at 800-297-2070 statewide. View our Operation Search brochure​, and our video​.

  • CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 3: For information regarding infants and toddlers between the ages of birth and two years, contact the Early Intervention Referral Line, formerly Hawaii Keiki Information Service System (H-KISS) at (808) 594-0066​​. You can also visit Early Intervention Services online here: http://health.hawaii.gov/eis/home/eiservices​.
  • PEOPLE OLDER THAN 22: 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.

Rights of Parents and Students Under Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and Hawaii Law and Regulations 

Federal Regulations and Hawaii Law and Regulations for Section 504 and IDEA afford parents and/or students with the following rights. Please click on this link for more information about you and your student's rights.

Individualized Education Program

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.

Parent Involvement Survey

Your Opinion is Extremely Important to Us!

What is the Parent Involvement Survey?

To meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) is required to report annually to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) the "percent of parents with a child receiving special education services who report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results for children with disabilities" enrolled in Hawaii public schools.

Like many other states, HIDOE collects this data through a large-scale survey. The HIDOE is using the Schools' Efforts to Partner with Parents Scale (SEPPS) that consists of a 25-item rating scale and was developed and validated by the National Center for Special Education and Accountability Monitoring (NCSEAM).

The Parent Involvement Survey:

  • Is multiple choice and takes less than ten (10) minutes to complete. 
  • Collects responses that are reported anonymously and cannot be personally linked to you or your child.
  • Is available either online or at your child's public school in a paper format that includes a postage-paid envelope.
  • Ensures objectivity by being collated, aggregated, and analyzed independently outside of the HIDOE by the current contractor, Piedra Data Services LLC.
  • Provides you with the opportunity to complete one (1) survey per child receiving special education and related services.
  • Is offered by your child's public school after the initial or annual IEP meeting.
  • Is available to be completed from July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022.

HIDOE values your involvement in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings and other school activities/events relating to your child's education and would like to hear about your experience with your school's efforts to partner with you. Your participation in this survey will help HIDOE to improve parental involvement in the special education process and improve outcomes for our students with disabilities and families.

How Do I Take the Parent Involvement Survey?

You may complete the survey:

  1. Online at: http://www.hiparentsurvey.com/
  2. In a paper format (Please contact your child's school for a paper copy with an accompanying postage-paid envelope).

Parent Involvement Survey Handout

More information about the Parent Involvement Survey is available on the Parent Involvement Survey Handout. If you are unable to access the survey, please contact the Monitoring and Compliance Branch at macb@k12.hi.us or (808) 307-3600.

Parent Involvement Survey Translations

The online Parent Involvement Survey is under construction to include translations.  Translation of the Parent Involvement Survey is available in the languages noted below. 

For the Parent Involvement Survey in English, click on the link above in the "How Do I Take the Parent Involvement Survey" section.

IDEA Part B Reports

State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) requires each state to develop a State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) that evaluates the state's efforts to implement the requirements and purposes of the IDEA and describes how the state will improve its implementation. A state is required to submit a state performance plan (SPP) at least every six years. Each year, states must report against the targets in their SPP in an annual performance report (APR). The Annual Performance Report includes targets and data for 17 indicators. The Hawaii Department of Education collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to establish measurable and rigorous annual performance targets.

State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP)

A multi-year, achievable plan that is a required part of the State Performance Plan(SPP)/Annual Performance Report (APR) – Indicator 17. It is intended to help states strengthen their infrastructure to support local practice and to use data to make decisions to achieve better results for students with disabilities.

Stakeholder Involvement – Federal Fiscal Years (FFY) 2020-2025

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires each state to develop a State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR) that evaluates the state's efforts to implement the requirements and purposes of the IDEA and describes how the state will improve its programs for students with disabilities.  Every state is required to submit a new SPP to the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at least every six (6) years.  OSEP requires states to engage stakeholders in examining, setting, and revising SPP target setting for the 17 SPP indicators.

To promote meaningful stakeholder engagement for setting the FFY 202-2025 targets, the Hawaii Department of Education (Education) held meetings that included participation from parents, educators, advocacy organizations, community members, and other stakeholders to gather their input.  Below are the materials shared to gather stakeholder input.  The indicator resources continue to remain open for informational purposes. 

Mahalo to all who participated in the virtual stakeholder meetings or completed the SPP/APR feedback survey.

The deadline for providing feedback has closed.

Indicator 1: Graduation Rates

Indicator 2: Drop Out Rates

Indicator 3: Participation and Performance of students with IEPs on statewide assessments

Indicators 4A & 4B: Suspension/Expulsion

Indicator 5​: Education Environments (School Age)

Indicator 6: Preschool Environments

Indicator 7: Preschool Outcomes

Indicator 8: Parent Involvement

Indicators 9 and 10: Disproportionate Representation

Indicator 11: Child Find

Indicator 12: Early Childhood Transition

Indicator 13: Secondary Transition

Indicator 14: Post School Outcomes

Indicator 15​: Resolution Sessions

Indicator 16: Mediation

Indicator 17: State Systemic Improvement Plan

IDEA Section 618 Data Tables

Section 618 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) requires that each state submit data about the children with disabilities, ages 3 through 21, who receive special education and related services under Part B of IDEA.

Due Process Hearings 

A parent/legal guardian or the Department may file a due process complaint on any matter relating to a proposal or a refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or educational placement of your child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for a student who receives special education and related services.

To view Hawaii's IDEA Part B Reports, click here.


State and federal laws allow the Hawaii DOE to claim partial federal reimbursements for medically necessary and educationally necessary health-related services that are provided through a student’s IEP. Services may include:

  • Evaluations determined as necessary as part of the IEP process
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Audiology Services
  • Speech Language Therapy
  • Assistive Technology Services
  • Skilled Nursing
  • Behavioral Health Services

Med-QUEST, the State’s Medicaid program, may reimburse the Hawaii DOE for a portion of the costs of eligible services. This is an important federal funding stream for public schools. The following criteria must be met:

  • Parental consent is provided to participate in the School-Based Medicaid Claiming Program;
  • The service(s) is determined to be a medically necessary and educationally necessary health-related service
  • through a student’s IEP; and
  • Student is Med-QUEST eligible.

LEARN MORE: brochure | letter to parents | FAQs | consent form — non-English translations below:

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  • 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).
  • Leadership in Disabilities & Achievement 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 Education Advisory Council (SEAC)​: A diverse group of individuals with expertise on all aspects affecting special education and related issues. Membership includes a majority of parents of children with disabilities, as well as teachers, administrators, representatives from the Department of Heath and the Department of Human Services, and others.​
  • Special Parent Information Network (SPIN): Information, support and referral to parents of children and young adults with disabilities and the professionals who serve them (sponsored by DOH/Department).​
  • Hawaii Autism Foundation: The mission of the Hawaii Autism Foundation is to educate and help Hawaii families find and fund treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Chapter 60 Guidelines​: A side-by-side table meant to provide clarification and additional information to the Hawaii Administrative Rules, Chapter 60.​​

​Seeking Special Education Teachers​The Department of Education is seeking qualified Special Education teachers for all grades and specialty areas. 


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