Special Education

Re-Imagining Special Education for New York City Students

As We Move Together Towards Full Inclusion and Interdependence

It is more important than ever to create inclusive, welcoming learning environments for every student so that they feel safe and experience success. Truly inclusive schools recognize the interdependence of each member of the school community, and that there is huge collective benefit when we acknowledge, value, and promote each member’s strengths. Ensuring inclusion will enable us to address areas of inequity while continually strengthening and renewing our commitment to high quality instruction for every student.

Special Education includes services, programs, and specially designed instruction to meet the individual needs of a student with a disability. Students with disabilities who require special education services have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The IEP is created by a team that includes you, the family .

The IEP is a legal document that describes how the DOE will provide your child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) appropriate to meet your child’s needs. It is a regulatory requirement that students with IEPs have access to the general education curriculum and an education with general education peers to the greatest extent possible, and as close to their home as possible, otherwise known as their least restrictive environment. LRE is a commitment that your child will be in schools and classrooms with peers without disabilities for as much of the day as possible. Students may not be removed from the general education setting simply because adaptations, accommodations, or modifications are needed.

Guiding Principles

  • All students must have a sense of belonging and acceptance inspired and reinforced by their school community.
  • General education is always the first consideration for any student with an IEP.
  • Decision making regarding special education services is a team process inclusive of the family and student.
  • Supplementary aids and services, accommodations, modifications, and specially designed instruction can and should be provided in the general education classroom.

Language Initiative

View our Inclusive and Interdependent Language Initiative on our Boldly Reimagining Special Education page.

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Where Do Students with IEPs Attend School?

Students with IEPs participate in the same admissions processes as their non-disabled peers. All schools serve students with disabilities. That's because special education is not a class or a place. Rather, it describes a wide range of services that can be provided in a variety of school settings.

While most students with IEPs attend their zoned or district school, NYC Public Schools has made tremendous efforts to develop high quality and highly specialized programs. The ASD Nest and Horizon Program, for example, has a graduation rate of 95%+ and is recognized.

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Some students with IEPs attend one of our specialized programs in district schools such as NEST, Horizon, or PATH. While other students require the support of a District 75 program or an accessible school building. The IEP team will conduct evaluations to determine which school setting will best support your child in reaching his or her academic goals.

Wherever your child attends school, know that school staff are trained to develop high quality IEPs, educate students with different needs, and create inclusive schools where students with and without disabilities share one school community.

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Continuum of Services

There is an array of services available to support your child in his or her least restrictive environment. There must be a clear justification anytime a student is removed from the general education setting.

Click the link above to learn about classroom recommendations that the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team may consider for your child.

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If your child attends a DOE school, you can view information about their IEP by visiting the IEP tab of your NYC Schools Account (NYCSA). Here you will find a summary of IEP recommendations, along with information about where and when your child is receiving recommended special education programs and related services. For more information about NYCSA, visit NYC Schools Account. For guidance on creating an account, visit the NYCSA Account Set Up Guide for Parents.

  • Family Resources

    Upcoming events, workshops, and resources for families of children with IEPs.

  • The IEP Process

    Starting the Process| Making a Referral| Evaluation| IEP Meeting | The IEP | Parent Members

  • Supports and Services

    Assistive Technology | Behavior Supports |Related Services | Specialized Transportation | Other Special Education Services | Testing Accommodations | Extended School Year Services

  • School Settings

    District Schools | Specialized Programs | District 75 | Other Educational Settings

  • Preschool to Age 21

    Special Education in NYC | Moving to Preschool | Moving to Kindergarten | Students with Disabilities and Gifted and Talented | Moving to Middle School | Moving to High School | After High School

  • Help

    Talking About Disability | Your Rights | Getting Support | Impartial Hearings | Contacts and Resources| Special Education Glossary| Committees on Special Education| Resources for Staff and Providers

  • Building Accessibility

    Learn how to find out about the accessibility of school buildings, how to request reasonable accommodations for a disability, and how to find information about making a complaint regarding discrimination.

  • Boldly Reimagining Special Education

    The Special Education Advisory Council will support NYCPS in collaboratively identifying priority investments aimed at our students with IEPs