Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities
A good starting place for parents of students with disabilities is:
A Parent's Guide - Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois.
This document is available in English and Spanish. The appendices also include quick references, a glossary of terms, and sample letters.
Another tool available to parents is:
The Illinois Student Records Keeper:
For Parents of Students Who Receive Special Education Services .
This booklet is for parents to use to keep important information about their child and his/her special education and related services. It is a companion to A Parent’s Guide - Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois.
- Choosing an Attorney for Special Education Representation If you have a child with a disability, you may find yourself in circumstances in which you require assistance in securing services to meet your child's educational needs. In such circumstances, you may turn to an attorney for assistance.
- Early resolution is an informal means for districts and parents to resolve complaints at the local level. It is not uncommon for disagreements to occur between parents and school districts regarding a child's special education services.
Those disagreements can often be resolved at the local level with open communication between the parties. The process of resolving disagreements at the local level can be a quick alternative to using a state-sponsored dispute resolution system, and can have the added benefit of improving communication between both parties in the future.
If an individual believes that a school district has not complied with the law or that a child's educational rights as been violated, the individual should try to resolve the issues with the local school district, through the following steps:
Parents seeking guidance on how to resolve disputes at the local level may contact the Special Education Division of the Illinois State Board of Education at 217/782-5589, or through the agency's toll-free parent line at 866/262-6663 and ask to speak to a consultant
- Directors of Special Education
- Mediation Services
Illinois' mediation service is designed as a means of resolving disagreements regarding special education services, placement and related services to children enrolled in Illinois public schools.
A complaint investigation is a formal process where a person submits a signed, written complaint alleging that the school district has violated one or more of the special education rules and regulations
- Due Process
Due process is a formal hearing that occurs if a parent (or occasionally a district) files a due process “complaint” requesting a due process hearing. The hearing may involve attorneys and advocates for each side and will result in a legally binding, written decision that can be appealed to a court of law.
- Parent’s Guide Chapter on Conflict Resolution
- Webinar for Parents: Special Education Dispute Resolution Options
- Early Childhood Special Education
ISBE offers statewide training and technical assistance through two projects: Early CHOICES and STARNET. Library and information services are also available to all Illinois residents through the Early Childhood Intervention Clearinghouse.
- Parent’s Guide Chapter on Early Childhood
- Reading - "A Child Becomes a Reader - Birth to Preschool"
This booklet offers advice for parents of children from birth to preschool on how to support reading development at home, and how to recognize preschool and day care activities that start children on the road to becoming readers.
- Disability Areas for Special Education
The Special Education Categories site includes information, research, resources, and best practices on the following program areas: Autism, Deaf-Blindness, Deafness, Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairments, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Visual Impairment.
- Parent’s Guide Chapter on Eligibility Categories
- The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) Fact Sheets on Disability Categories posted in English and Spanish (all in PDF format)
- Home-School-Community Partnerships
This webpage provides tips and resources for parents, school personnel and community members on developing partnerships to:
This webpage provides tips and resources for school personnel to involve parents in the educational process, including a link to the new ISBE Family Engagement Framework. This site also contains resources for parents.
- Illinois Statewide Technical Assistance Collaborative (ISTAC)
The Illinois Statewide Technical Assistance Collaborative (ISTAC) provides professional development and technical assistance supports to public school districts across the state. ISTAC’s goal is to improve outcomes for all students, with a focus on building the capacity of Illinois school districts to meet the needs of students with disabilities, within the overall context of school improvement.
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The LRE Clearinghouse is a resource for families and educators on issues related to educating students with disabilities in the regular classrooms.
- Nonpublic Special Education Facilities
Nonpublic special education facilities provide educational, therapeutic and/or residential services to students identified as having either severe, profound or multiple disabilities.
- Parent’s Guide Chapter on Least Restrictive Environment
- Students with Disabilities in Regional Safe Schools Programs
This memorandum is sent to clarify the responsibilities of school districts and special education cooperatives in providing services to students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) enrolled in the Regional Safe Schools Program (RSSP) and in meeting relevant reporting requirements.
- Webinar for Parents: The What, Why, and How of Justification of Removal from the General Education Classroom
- Post-Secondary Transition
This web page provides access to a great variety of resources, tools and information related to secondary transition including, but not limited to: an age-appropriate transition assessment, measurable post-school goals, transition plan development, and linkages to web resources that cover a range of topics related to secondary transition. The Transition Outreach Training for Adult Living (TOTAL) Project training modules and resources can also be accessed here.
- Parent’s Guide Chapter on Post-Secondary Transition
- Understanding PUNS: A Guide to Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services
The Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities, develops and array of supports for adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Possible services include in-home supports, respite care, training programs, job coaches, residential living arrangements, adaptive equipment, etc. Funding is limited and prioritized based on need for services. It is critically important for families to register their son/daughter for PUNS (the ‘doorway’ for these services) well before he/she transitions from school to adult life.
- Webinars for Parents: Transition from School to Adult Life: What Families Need to Know