Special Education

The goal of special education is to ensure that all students have access to the general curriculum in the least restrictive environment with their non-disabled peers.  

Special education is a service for students who have been identified as having a disability that adversely affects the child’s educational performance and that student demonstrates a need for specialized instruction in one or more of the basic skill areas.

Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. This is often referred to as a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Special education services can be provided in a variety of settings, such as in the classroom, out of the classroom, or in an alternative setting.  

In addition to the 15 school-based special educators, OSSU has in-house diagnostician positions at Central Office.  These educational diagnosticians conduct all initial and three-year special education evaluations. This allows the school-based special educators more time to provide more direct instruction to students. Central office also provides office and meeting space for 10 itinerant staff members who spend the majority of their time working directly with students and families in the schools. All staff report to the Director of Student Services, Heather Freeman.

The current federal law that governs all Special Education Services is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is based on a forty-year history of policy in this country to provide an equitable education to students with disabilities. The Rules and Regulations for Special Education in Vermont is contained in the Newly Adopted Special Education Rules of 2013.

There are thirteen categories of disabilities under IDEA.  They include:

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

We have created a short video that explains the full process in easy to understand language. Find out more about eligibility for special education services, available services, and transition services by contacting one of the special educators in your local school district.  ​