Special Education Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


San Jacinto Unified School District recognizes that every student has unique individual needs.  We will provide a program that meets the academic, physical, social, behavioral and emotional needs of every student so that each student has equal opportunities to succeed and become a contributing member of society.  We have a philosophy that all students should be included and that ALL means ALL.


Our Mission


We exist to educate and empower all students to achieve academic excellence, personal growth and social responsibility.

What is Special Education?


Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of children that result from having a disability so they may learn the information and skills that other children are learning.


What should I do if I think my child has a learning problem?


First, discuss your concerns with your child’s classroom teacher.  There are interventions for reading and math difficulties that can be provided through the general education curriculum as part of SJUSD’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS).  Following a series of interventions, if your student continues to demonstrate learning difficulties which prevent her or him from functioning in a regular school program without specialized help, then your child may be eligible for special education services.


What is a Student Study Team (SST)?


The SST is a regular education function. The team is comprised of teachers and other school personnel based at your local school site. This team is a problem solving team that utilizes a problem solving approach to identify specific needs, determine appropriate interventions and review Response to Intervention (RTI) progress monitoring data.  Please contact your student’s teacher and/or school site principal if you desire to hold an SST meeting.


Who is eligible for Special Education?


Certain children with disabilities are eligible for special education and related services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides a definition of a "child with a disability." This law identifies the 13 disability categories under which a child may be found eligible for special education and related services. These categories are:

  • Autism
  • Deafness
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment, including blindness.


According to the IDEA, the disability must affect the child's educational performance. Eligibility is based upon whether a student is identified, through assessment, as having one or more of the 13 disabilities and whether that disability affects how the child performs in school. Specifically, the disability must cause the child to need special education and related services.


What is Child Find?


Child Find is a component of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires all school districts to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. If you know of a child with a suspected or identified disability who lives within the boundaries of the San Jacinto Unified School District, please encourage the parent to call the SJUSD special education department to learn about the process of determining the child’s eligibility of special education services.


What is IDEA?


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is federal legislation that requires eligible students with disabilities to have equal access to a free and appropriate education.


How is a referral processed?


A parent, teacher or administrator may refer a child who is suspected of having a disability to the Student Study Team (SST) at the child’s school of residence. Through the problem-solving process utilized by the SST, a student may be referred for assessment to determine whether the student exhibits a disability. The SST involves parent participation and informed consent is required for assessment.


What is an assessment?


An assessment plan is a description of the assessments that will be used to explore a child’s strengths and needs in the area(s) related to a suspected disability. After the parent receives a copy of the Procedural Safeguards and provides written consent to assess the child, the appropriate specialists conduct the assessment with parent input. No single procedure can be used as the sole criterion for determining an appropriate educational program. The District must complete the assessment and conduct an initial IEP meeting within 60 days of receiving parental consent, excluding breaks of 5 or more school days.


What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?


An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed for each child identified as having a disability and eligible for special education services. The IEP is a written document that is developed, reviewed, and revised to meet the educational needs of the child.


What are related services?


Related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. The following are included within the definition of related services:


  • Speech- language services
  • Audiology services
  • Interpreting services
  • Psychological and counseling services
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Orientation and mobility services
  • School health services
  • Social work services
  • Transportation


If my child is eligible for Special Education, who decides what program and services my child will receive? 


The appropriate services and programs will be based upon your child’s individual special education needs, which are based on an assessment of all areas of suspected disability. The planning of your child’s program and services is done by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. The parent is an important member of this team.


How often is an IEP reviewed?


IEPs are reviewed and updated annually. However, a parent, teacher, or administrator may request a review in writing at any time. Requests may be submitted to the teacher who manages the implementation of your child’s IEP or the Special Education Office at the district office. The IEP meeting, by law, must be held within 30 days from the time the written request is received.


What is the SELPA?


The Special Education Local Plan Area or SELPA is a consortium of school districts that serve the common needs of their students. San Jacinto is a member of the Riverside County SELPA.


What is the SELPA Community Advisory Committee?


The Community Advisory Committee serves the Special Education Local Plan Area in an advisory capacity.


What does Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) mean?


The law requires that a student be placed in the least restrictive environment possible to effectively address his/her needs. The intent is to have students with special needs as much a part of the regular school program as possible while giving consideration to the needs of exceptional and typically developing children participating in the program.

What is a Free Appropriate Public Education?


A Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) ensures that all children with disabilities have access to special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.

Are there Special Education programs available for infants and preschool children?

Infants and toddlers aged birth through 36 months with diagnosed disabilities, or at risk for disability, are served. Preschool children ages 3-5 are also eligible for services. You can obtain further information about infant and preschool programs by calling the SJUSD Special Education Department.

What should I do if I don’t agree with everything in the IEP?

You may give consent to those parts of the IEP with which you agree and they will be implemented, thus not causing a delay in services. You will be asked to specify the areas and or services with which you disagree. District administration will seek to work with you to resolve the disagreement. The parts with which you don’t agree may become the basis for an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) meeting, mediation, or fair hearing.

If I have a concern with my child’s IEP or services, what should I do?

First, discuss the problem with your child’s special education case carrier and/or any other school personnel who are familiar with your child’s IEP and who may be able to address your concerns. You may request that the IEP team meet to review the IEP.


May I observe my child’s Special Education program in the district?


Yes, contact your child's case carrier or principal at the school site to schedule an appointment.  Please be aware that SJUSD district policy indicates that schools need 24 hour notice for a parent to observe their child in the classroom.

May I see or have a copy of my child’s school records?

Yes, you are entitled to see all of your child’s school records. Make your request (either verbally or in writing) to the SJUSD Special Education Department.


What Is Due Process?


Due process refers to procedures established to ensure that the rights of parents and the school district are protected.

For how long will my child receive Special Education services?

As long as the IEP team, including the parents, agree that special education services are needed. This will be based on ongoing evaluation of your child’s need for special education.

How will my child’s IEP be affected if we move out of this school district?

Your child’s IEP will be valid and honored by the new school district. Your child will be placed in a comparable program in the new district for a period of 30 days. During that time, an IEP review should take place in your new school district.

May I volunteer at my child’s school?

Parent involvement is strongly encouraged. Speak to your child’s teacher or school office staff about volunteering at school. There are many ways in which you can become involved. SJUSD has a process for preparing volunteers.




As questions arise, it is best to maintain communication with your child’s case carrier and/or teacher(s). If you still have questions or concerns…

  1. Contact the school administrator (Principal, Assistant Principal)
  2. Contact the Special Education office at 951-929-7700 x 4249