Links to help you advocate for your Arizona special needs child
Arizona Special Education Resources:
Arizona Department of Education
This is a good source for information about Arizona school districts and charter schools. ADE also has links to school district and charter school websites.
This is a section of ADE's website related to special education or Exceptional Student Services. ESS ensures that public education agencies, which are public school districts and charter schools, have special education programs to serve studented with disabilities. There is a lot of information on this site about the special education process and the schools' obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 15 (Education)
This is where you would find the Arizona laws regarding education of students in Arizona and the operation of schools. Article 4 contains Arizona specific information about special education beginning with Section 15-761 through 15-774. These sections cover definitions of the categories of eligibility for special education for students with disabilities and other special education terms including special education, public education agency and due process complaint.
In Arizona, there are 14 categories of eligibility for special education. These consist of the following:
(ii) Developmental delay
(iii) Emotional disability
(iv) Hearing impairment
(v) Other health impairments
(vi) Specific learning disability
(vii) Mild, moderate or severe intellectual disability
(viii) Multiple disabilities
(ix) Multiple disabilities with severe sensory impairment
(x) Orthopedic impairment
(xi) Preschool severe delay
(xii) Speech/language impairment
(xiii) Traumatic brain injury
(xiv) Visual impairment
The special education section of the Arizona statutes also includes Arizona specific timelines for the initial evaluation of students suspected of having a disability and the timing of re-evaluations for students on an IEP. (ARS 15-766)
These statutes are consistent with the IDEA but there are specific timelines for Arizona students with disabilities.
Arizona Administrative Code, Article 4 – Special Education
In addition to the laws noted above, Arizona also has regulations that provide more detail about the school's obligations to timely evaluate and provide for the education of students with disabilities. These regulations often provide more detail than the statutes.
Arizona School District Policies
This is a helpful link to find your public school district's policies and procedures. It has a good search function so you can put in specific terms that you want to look up. It is a good idea to check your own school district's website to make sure the current set of policies is accurate. While some school districts provide the policies on their websites, many school districts provide a link to this site when you try to access their policies.
Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD): Arizona Department of Economic Security
Arizona provides for services for people with certain developmental disabilities including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism spectrum disorder, and intellectual disabilities.
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
The Vocational Rehabilitation program provides a variety of services to persons with disabilities, with the ultimate goal to prepare for, enter into, or retain employment. For students with disabilities, a representative from vocational rehabilitation should be invited to an IEP meeting when a student is close to graduation to discuss supports they may be able to provide.
Arizona Statutes about Developmental Disabilities
This section includes a list of rights for persons with developmental disabilities - ARS Section 36-551.01
Arizona Center for Disability Law
This is an Arizona nonprofit law firm that assists Arizonans with disabilities in a number of areas related to disabilities.
Autism Society of Greater Phoenix
This is the Valley's branch of the Autism Society which is a grassroots autism organization. They have a number of resources including support groups for people with autism and their families.
Arizona Autism United (AZA United)
AZA United is a non-profit providing services to families. Their goal is to help anyone affected by autism access individualized supports without barriers, to achieve a high quality of life.
Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC)
SARRC is an Arizona non-profit that conducts research and provides services for people with autism.
National Special Education/Disability Resources:
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The IDEA is the Federal law that provides rights to students with disabilities. These rights include the right to evaluations, an individualized education programs, private placement, where appropriate, state complaints, due process complaints and rights to appeal.
Title 34 Code of Federal Regulations
These are the Education-related regulations by the US Department of Education. These regulations often provide more specific information about the rights of students with disabilities under the IDEA.
The United States Department of Education administers the IDEA and issues directives and policy about the education of students including students with disabilities.
The Office of Civil Rights investigates and addresses allegations of discrimination in a number of areas including but not limited to disability discrimination. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights handles claims related to discrimination in schools. Parents and students can file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights if they are concerned about discrimination.
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)
OSERS is part of the Department of Education. Its mission is "to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation." OSERS issues guidance to school districts about their obligations.
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
OSEP is part of OSERS within the Department of Education. OSEP also issues guidance about the interpretation of the IDEA and school district obligations to students with disabilities.
This website is designed to provide easy access to information from research to practice initiatives funded by OSEP that address the provisions of IDEA and Every Student Succeeds Act (which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act). This website includes resources, links, and other important information relevant to OSEP’s research to practice efforts.
Wrightslaw Special Education and Advocacy
This is a great resource for parents of students with disabilities about their rights, how to advocate for students with disabilities and working with the school district.
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
COPAA is an advocacy organization helping students with disabilities and their families get the education and access they deserve. Richard Murphy is a member of COPAA.
National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
The mission of NCLD is to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 children and adults nationwide with learning and attention issues—by empowering parents and young adults, transforming schools and advocating for equal rights and opportunities.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is a significant law protecting people with disabilities from discrimination by businesses and the government.
ADA Title II (Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services)
ADA Title III (Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities)
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), 29 U.S.C. Section 794 provides in pertinent part:
(a) No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance
Regulations: 34 C.F.R. 104.1-104.61