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Special Education


Special Education is a program designed to meet the unique educational needs of individuals with disabilities from birth to 22 years of age who meet the eligibility criteria under the law. It is defined as, "Special Education,” in accordance with Section 1401(29) of Title 20 of the United States Code, means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and other settings, and instruction in physical education."  

—California Education Code: Article 2. Definitions [56031.(a)]

There are thirteen eligibility categories for special education.

1.   Autism
2.   Deaf-Blindness
3.   Deafness
4.   Emotional Disturbance
5.   Hearing Impaired
6.   Intellectual Disability
7.   Multiple Disabilities
8.   Orthopedic Impairment
9.   Other Health Impairment
10. Specific Learning Disability
11. Speech or Language Disability
12. Traumatic Brain Injury
13. Visual Impairment, including Blindness

Section 504:


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §794, ("Section 504"), prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, and requires recipients of such assistance to take positive steps (such as providing accessibility and reasonable accommodations) to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in their programs and activities.

A student with a disability under Section 504 means any student who:

  • Has a disability, which substantially limits one or more of the student’s major life activities and has a record of such a disability.

Note: Major life activities may include but are not limited to functions such as bending, breathing, caring for one’s self, communicating, concentrating, eating, hearing, learning, lifting, performing manual tasks, reading, seeing, sleeping, standing, speaking, thinking, walking, and working.  Major life activities may also include, but not be limited to:  functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

  • Or, is regarded as having such a disability.

It is important to note that any student eligible for special education and related services is also protected from discrimination under Section 504, but that not all students who are eligible under Section 504 meet the eligibility requirements for special education and related services. A student who is suspected of requiring special education and related services should be referred for a special education assessment. If an IEP (Individualized Education Program) team finds the student is not eligible for special education, but suspects the student has a disability, it may refer the student for the Section 504 evaluation process.

(1) Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Applicable Statues and Regulations
504 Rehabilitation Act

(2) Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
Protecting Students with Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities

Barbara Brown 

Director of Student Services


Marisa Moya

Administrative assistant


Teresa Manriquez

Administrative assistant