Procedure Manual

1. Introduction

The Procedures Manual is divided into chapters containing sub sections with general information and specific instructions for each area. The manual is a living document and is continually updated. Please report issues and outdated information or contacts to

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1.1   Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 04)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 04) was reauthorized by Congress in 2004 and is officially titled, “Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004”.  In cases where California law grants more rights than the federal law, the California law must be implemented.  In cases where Federal law grants more rights than California law, Federal law must be implemented.  IDEA 04 is the federal law that provides for the education of children with disabilities. According to IDEA 04, children with specific disabilities are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

The California Department of Education defines special education as:

…specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs …

[CA Education Code § 56031.(a)]

IDEA 04 specifies that in order to determine if a student is eligible and needs special education services, a student must be assessed in all areas of suspected disability. When the assessment is completed, a meeting is held with parents/guardians (“parent”) and school professionals to review the assessment results and determine if the child is a “student with a disability” and needs special education and related services. If it is determined that the student needs special education services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. This document includes:

  • A description of present levels of educational performance.
  • A statement of educational needs; including way in which a student’s disability affects his/her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.
  • Measurable annual goals and objectives/benchmarks, description of ways in which the student’s progress towards meetings goals/objectives will be measured; and how and when the progress will be reported to parents.
  • Services and placement, including related services, and modifications/supports necessary for school personnel and the student.
  • An explanation of the extent to which the pupil will not participate with non-disabled peers in the general education setting.
  • Individual Transition Plan (ITP) including goals and activities, beginning not later than the first IEP in effect when the student turns 16, or earlier, if determined appropriate.


IDEA 04 states that each student determined to need special education and related services be provided these services in the least restrictive environment (LRE),that is, in the environment that promotes the maximum interaction with the general school population and in which the student can receive educational benefit as appropriate to the needs of the student and his or her non-disabled peers.

IDEA 04 identifies the following as disabilities that may qualify children for special education services:





The child exhibits a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction and has an adverse effect on educational performance. This disability generally is evident before the child reaches age three.


A hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.


The child has both hearing and visual disabilities that cause such severe communication, developmental, educational, needs that require accommodation in special education programs specifically designed for students with hearing and visual disabilities.

Emotional Disturbance

The child exhibits one or more of the following conditions over an extended period of time, to a marked degree and these conditions have an adverse effect on educational performance, even after supportive assistance has been provided:

· An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors.

· An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

· Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

· A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

· A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.




Hearing Impairment

The child exhibits a hearing loss (whether permanent or fluctuating) that adversely affects a child’s educational performance BUT that is not included under the definition of deafness.

Intellectual Disability

Child demonstrates intellectual functioning which is significantly below average, with comparable delays in the adaptive skills domain that adversely affect a child’s educational performance.

Multiple Disabilities

The child exhibits two or more disabilities, the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a special education program designed solely for one of the impairments alone. This does not include the term “deaf/blind”.

Orthopedic Impairment

The child displays orthopedic impairments that are hereditary abnormalities or result from disease or other causes, such as cerebral palsy, amputations, fractures, or burns. The disability must be severe enough to have an adverse effect on educational performance and make special education and/or related services necessary.

Other Health Impairment

The child exhibits a physical or health impairment that is not temporary in nature, and which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Specific Learning Disability

The child exhibits a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language (spoken or written) that impairs learning. The child exhibits an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. Learning disability does not include children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, orthopedic, cognitive or emotional/behavioral disabilities or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

Speech or Language Impairment

The child exhibits a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment, or a voice impairment that adversely affects the child’s educational performance.




Traumatic Brain Injury

The child has an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or an internal occurrence, such as a stroke or aneurysm. The injury results in total or functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment, or both. These have an adverse effect on educational performance. The term includes open or closed head injuries that result in mild, moderate or severe impairments in one or more areas, including cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thinking, judgment, problem-solving, sensory, perceptual or motor abilities, psychosocial behavior, physical functions, information-processing, and speech. The term does not include brain injuries that are hereditary, degenerative, or brain injuries caused by birth trauma.

Visual Impairment

The child has a visual impairment that, even with correction, adversely affects educational performance. This term includes both partial sight and blindness.