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All parents can positively impact their children’s learning and healthy development, and when families, schools and communities partner together, schools thrive and students benefit. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to navigate the educational system and know how to best work with district and school personnel. Often times, parents of students with disabilities face additional challenges. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has developed some web pages and resources specifically for parents of students with disabilities.

A good starting place for parents of students with disabilities

Need Additional Information or Support?


If you have a child with a disability, you may decide to hire a paraprofessional or a "lay advocate” to assist you in ensuring that your child's educational needs are met. These advocates, who are not attorneys, may be able to assist with consultation, letter writing, or meetings with schools.


For certain circumstances, a parent may prefer to hire an attorney for assistance.

 Community and Residential Services Authority

The Community and Residential Services Authority (CRSA) is an interagency group created by the General Assembly in 1985. The CRSA is responsible for identifying and addressing barriers facing parents, professionals, and providers when they try to get needed services and programs for individuals with a behavior disorder or a severe emotional disturbance and their family.

The CRSA staff provide technical assistance to families, service providers, educators, and other professionals to help plan for and implement appropriate, effective services for children with severe emotional disturbances and behavior disorders (SED/BD) in Illinois. A brochure of additional information is presently available in CRSA brochure in EnglishPDF Document and CRSA brochure in SpanishPDF Document.

CRSA may be contacted by telephone toll-free at (877) 541-2772 or via the web at crsa.illinois.gov.​​​

 Conflict Resolution

  • 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 on the mediation page.

    Parents seeking guidance on how to resolve disputes at the local level may contact the Special Education Services Department ​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 EducationPDF Document
  • 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
  • Chapter 11: Conflict Resolution
  • Capítulo 11: Resolución de conflictos
  • 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

 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.
  • illinoisparents.org
    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.

 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.
  • ​Chapter 8: Secondary Transition
  • ​Capítulo 8: Transición de la secundaria
  • 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.
  • Comprensión de PUNS: una guía para priorizar la urgencia de la necesidad de servicios
    La División Discapacidades del Desarrollo del Departamento de Servicios Humanos de Illinois proporciona liderazgo para la administración efectiva del diseño y la prestación de los servicios basados en los resultados de calidad, centrados en la persona y apoyos para los que tienen discapacidades del desarrollo. Estos servicios y apoyos se acomodarán a sus necesidades, dones, talentos y fortalezas; serán accesibles, abarcarán toda la vida; estarán basados en una selección informada y serán monitoreados para asegurar el progreso individual, la calidad de vida y seguridad.​
  • Webinars for Parents: Transition from School to Adult Life: What Families Need to Know
  • The Autism Training and Technical Assistance Project (ATTA) develops resources that assist individuals with Autism in their transition from secondary education to postsecondary education or employment. The ATTA also seeks to provide training and support to important stakeholders, as they work to provide an equitable experience for individuals with autism. The website and the resources it contains are developed pursuant to and funded 100% through a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education. The website is maintained and updated by the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support.​​​​

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