The federal and state regulations establish eligibility criteria for all students seeking special education services. In order to qualify under the eligibility criteria, the assessment must demonstrate that the student’s disability requires special education. The qualifying areas of disability set out in federal and state eligibility regulations are:
- Visual impairment including blindness;
- Hearing impairment including deafness;
- Orthopedic impairment;
- Language or Speech impairment;
- Other health impairment (limited in strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems);
- Intellectual disability;
- (Serious) emotional disturbance;
- Specific learning disability;
- Traumatic brain injury; and
- Multiple Disabilities.
[34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.8; 5 C.C.R. Sec. 3030.]
A student is not eligible for special education and services if she does not otherwise meet the eligibility criteria and her educational needs are due primarily to:
- Unfamiliarity with the English language;
- Temporary physical disabilities;
- Social maladjustment; or
- Environmental, cultural, or economic factors; or
- A lack of instruction in reading or mathematics.
[20 U.S.C. Secs. 1401 & 1411; 34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.8(c)(10)(ii); 300.306 & 300.311(a)(6); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56026(e).]
A child may be eligible for special education services, in the form of early intervention services, from birth. After age three and until school age, a child may be eligible for preschool special education. Assuming the student has not yet graduated from high school with a regular diploma, a student may continue to be eligible for special education past her 18th year. A student between the ages of 19 and 21 may continue in special education under certain conditions. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.102; Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 56026(c)(4) & 56026.1.] See Chapter 3, Information on Eligibility Criteria.