Special Education Services

Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities

Information for parents on topics such as early childhood special education, conflict resolution, disabilities, and special education resources and supports including links to the document A Parent's Guide - The Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities in English and Spanish.

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.

Parents Guide
English Version
Parents Guide
Spanish Version

Another tool available to parents is:
The Illinois Student Records Keeper:
For Parents of Students Who Receive Special Education Services
PDF Format.
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 PDF format  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.


 Conflict Resolution

Local Resources

  • 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:
  • Communicating directly with the school staff, principal, superintendent, or director of the special education cooperative.
  • Requesting an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting to discuss the issues with the IEP team.
  • Utilizing the state-sponsored mediation system to resolve the areas of concern. Additional information about mediation may be found at:

  • 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 PDF format
  • 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.
  • Complaints
    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 ResolutionPDF format
  • Webinar for Parents: Special Education Dispute Resolution Options


 Directors of Special Education



 Early Childhood


 Educational Surrogate Parents

  • An Educational Surrogate Parent has the responsibility to ensure that the school provides the student with a free, appropriate public education.


 Eligibility / Disability Areas


 Forms for Special Education

 Home-School Community Partnerships

  • Home-School-Community Partnerships
    This webpage provides tips and resources for parents, school personnel and community members on developing partnerships to:
  • Promote the necessary conditions for learning which includes:
  • A safe, caring, participatory, and responsive school climate and;
  • The development of academic, physical, social, emotional, and behavioral competencies.
  • Address barriers to learning and teaching such as: bullying, disengagement, absenteeism, and behavioral health issues.
    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.


 Individualized Education Program (IEP)

 New Illinois Learning Standards for English/Language Arts and Math


 Placement and Least Restrictive Environment


 Post-Secondary Transition

  • 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 PDF format
  • 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 Video format


Parents may also wish to browse other special education topics by using the A-Z index or special education What’s New/ Hot Topics.