Children and youth with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) must receive a free, appropriate public education as guaranteed by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Education must include individualized supports and services, quality instruction, and access to the general education curriculum in age-appropriate inclusive settings, in preparation for adult life.
Massachusetts families led the effort for individuals with I/DD to be included in public education in 1975 with a law that was a pre-cursor to IDEA known as Chapter 766. Chapter 766 is the Massachusetts law which guarantees the rights of all young people with special needs (age 3-22) to an educational program best suited to their needs. Team evaluations and Annual Reviews are conducted to develop an ongoing individual education plan that ensures an appropriate education.
Please click on a resource link below for more information.
The MA K-12 Department of Elementary and Education is the statewide educational authority (SEA) for public schools in MA. Here you will find school district profiles including demographics, test scores, discipline rates, inclusion rates, etc. You can also read about special education planning and policy, find district advisories regarding special education supports and services and learn about statewide initiatives. | http://www.doe.mass.edu
The Federation is a non-profit organization providing information and services for parent advocates and parent organizations involved with children with special needs. Publications include a detailed Parent’s Guide to Special Education
, written in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Education. | http://www.fcsn.org/
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a “free appropriate public education” (also known as FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) appropriate to their individual needs. IDEA requires public school systems to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) to provide FAPE / LRE for each child. The specific special education and related services outlined in each IEP reflect the individualized needs of each student. IDEA also mandates that procedural safeguards are followed in the development of the IEP. Each student’s IEP must be developed by a team of knowledgeable persons inclusive of family members and the student with a disability (when appropriate) and must be reviewed annually. | https://sites.ed.gov/idea/
The Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (maaps) was founded in 1975 as a statewide association of approved private special education schools dedicated to providing educational programs and services to students with special needs. maaps members are approved by the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education under the state’s special education law, Chapter 766. maaps represents 87 member schools serving approximately 7000 children with special needs from Massachusetts, other states and countries | https://maaps.org
The Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI) offers grants to college-school partnerships to support eligible public high school students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18–22, to increase their academic and career success by being included in a college or university community of learners.
Students with intellectual disabilities who are eligible for the program must be between the ages of:
- 18 to 22, have not passed MCAS, and are eligible for special education services as documented through an Individualized Education Program (IEP); or
- 20 to 21, have passed MCAS, but are still eligible for special education with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) because of significant functional disabilities, transition needs, etc.
MassPAC at the Federation for Children with Special Needs is the statewide organization providing information, training, and networking opportunities to Massachusetts special education parent advisory councils (SEPACs) and the professionals who collaborate with them. Find your local Special Education Parent Advisory Council here. | https://fcsn.org/masspac/
SPAN is an organization for special education advocates and also provides parents of children with disabilities a better understanding of the role of an advocate and acts as a resource for advocacy services by including a directory of advocates. | http://spanmass.org
Think Inclusive is a premiere web-site and social media platform for families and self-advocates who who believe educational and community inclusion is a civil right. | https://www.thinkinclusive.us
Web Resource Helps Parents of Kids with Learning and Attention Issues. Understood.org is a new, free online resource (in English and Spanish) that is aimed at providing families with the practical tools and advice for their child’s academic, social, and emotional journey | https://www.understood.org/en
The mission of the Office for Civil Rights is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. | https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
WrightsLaw is a comprehensive website offering supports and services for families involved in special education. | http://www.wrightslaw.com