Return to Normal View

DOE Homepage Students Educators Community Family Administrators and Staff MyFlorida.com

Florida Department of Education

DOE Home > Military Families

Military Families

 

  Military Families  

Text Index Google Custom Search

General Education Information

Exceptional Student Education


What is exceptional student education (ESE)?

In Florida, children who have special learning needs because of a disability or because of being identified as gifted are called exceptional students. The special help they are given at school is called exceptional student education (ESE). The purpose of ESE is to help each child progress in school and prepare for life after school. Exceptional student education services may include special teaching methods and materials. For children with disabilities, the ESE services may also include technology devices, therapy, special transportation, or other supports. There is no charge for these special services.

Each school district provides an appropriate program of special instruction, facilities, and services for exceptional students as prescribed by the State Board of Education. In providing for the education of exceptional students, the district school superintendent, principals, and teachers utilize the regular school facilities and adapt them to the needs of exceptional students to the maximum extent appropriate. Segregation of exceptional students shall occur only if the nature or severity of the exceptionality is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Parents with children participating in ESE programs are encouraged to contact the school district offices as soon as possible to facilitate a smooth transition in services. Presentation of comprehensive educational records, including evaluation, individual educational plan, and placement documentation, is most helpful in determining most appropriate placement. Florida Statute 1003.57

Back to top

How are decisions made about a student's ESE services?

Decisions about a child’s ESE services are made by a team. The child’s parents are part of this team. School staff can answer parents’ questions about ESE, about how parents can participate, and about parents’ rights and responsibilities. The rights of parents of students with disabilities are called their “procedural safeguards.” Parents receive a written summary of their procedural safeguards when they are asked to give their consent for their child to be individually evaluated. In addition to receiving information from the school staff, parents can contact the school principal and the ESE administrator in the local school district office.

Following are basic explanations of the ESE process for children with disabilities and children who are gifted.

For children with disabilities the process is based on the requirements of the federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Referral for Individual Evaluation
A referral is a request for an individual evaluation of a child who is suspected of needing ESE services. Some children are referred because they have an obvious disability or because they do not do well on group tests such as hearing or vision screenings. However, when a child is having difficulty in school, several kinds of help are usually tried before a referral for evaluation is made. For example, the school’s child study team may suggest specific teaching or behavior management methods to the teacher. These are called interventions. If the interventions do not solve the problem, the parent or the school staff will then refer the child for an evaluation.

Individual Evaluation
An individual evaluation is a way of collecting information about a child’s learning needs, strengths, problems, and interests. The evaluation may include tests, observations, interviews, or other ways of gathering information. In order for a child to be individually evaluated, the parent or guardian must give written consent.

Eligibility Determination
After the evaluation, the school holds a meeting called an eligibility staffing. The parents and the rest of the team at the eligibility staffing discuss the information collected about the child. Then the team determines whether the child is eligible for ESE services. To receive ESE services, the child must meet the criteria listed in Florida’s State Board of Education Rules.

Development of the First IEP
If the child is eligible for ESE services, the next step is to hold a meeting to write an individual educational plan (IEP). The child’s parents are invited to this meeting because they are part of the IEP team. The IEP team decides which special services and supports the child needs in order to make progress and achieve his or her annual goals. The IEP team also decides what kind of classes the child will receive services in. Most children with disabilities spend most of their school day in general education classrooms. Some children leave the general education classroom for part of the day to receive services in an ESE resource class. A few children spend all day in a special class or in a special school.

Consent for Placement and Services Begin
After the first IEP has been written, the parent is asked to give written consent for the child to receive ESE services. A child cannot receive ESE services for the first time until the IEP is written and the parent has given consent for placement.

Yearly Development of New IEP
At least once every 12 months, the IEP team meets to talk about the child’s progress and to develop a new IEP. Of course, the child’s needs may change at any time, so the parent, the teacher, or other team members may ask for an IEP meeting at any time. The child’s services can only be changed during an IEP meeting.

Three-Year Reevaluation
The school reevaluates the child at least every three years to find out if the child still needs ESE services and how the child’s needs have changed.


For children who are gifted the process is based on state requirements.

Referral for Individual Evaluation
A referral is a request for an individual evaluation of a child who is suspected of needing ESE services. Some children are referred because their needs are not being met in the general classroom or based on their scores on state or district assessments. However, several kinds of strategies are usually tried before a referral for evaluation is made. If the strategies are not effective, the parent or the school staff will then refer the child for an evaluation.

Individual Evaluation
An individual evaluation is a way of collecting information about a child’s learning needs, strengths, problems, and interests. The evaluation may include tests, observations, interviews, or other ways of gathering information. In order for a child to be individually evaluated, the parent or guardian must give written consent.

Eligibility Determination
After the evaluation, the school holds a meeting called an eligibility staffing. The team at the eligibility staffing discusses the information collected about the child. Then the team determines whether the child is eligible for ESE services. To receive ESE services, the child must meet the criteria listed in Florida’s State Board of Education rules.

Development of the First EP
If the child is eligible for ESE services, the next step is to hold a meeting to write an educational plan (EP) for the student. The child’s parents are invited to this meeting because they are members of the EP team. The EP team documents the child’s present levels of performance, establishes goals for the child, and decides which special services and supports the child needs in order to make progress and achieve his or her goals.

The EP team also decides in what kind of classes or setting the child will receive services. Most children who are gifted spend most of their school day in general education classrooms. Some children leave the general education classroom for part of the day to receive services in an ESE resource class. A few children spend all day in a special class or in a special school.

Consent for Placement and Services Begin
After the first EP has been written, the parent is asked to give written consent for the child to receive ESE services. A child cannot receive ESE services for the first time until the EP is written and the parent has given consent for placement.

Development of a New EP
At least once every three years, the EP team meets to talk about the child’s progress and to develop a new EP. Of course, the child’s needs may change at any time, so the parent, the teacher, or other team members may ask for an EP meeting at any time. The child’s services can only be changed during an EP meeting.

Back to top

What if my child has already been receiving ESE services?

A transferring exceptional student is one who was previously enrolled as an exceptional student in another school or program.

An exceptional student who is transferring from out of state must have a current IEP and evaluation data to determine that the student meets Florida’s eligibility criteria for special programs and does not meet the receiving district’s dismissal criteria. This student may be placed immediately in the appropriate educational program(s), without temporary assignment. A transferring exceptional education student may be temporarily assigned to a special education program for a period not to exceed six months. The receiving school may review and revise the current IEP as necessary.

The transferring student from one Florida school district to another must have a current individual educational plan (IEP) or educational plan (EP) and shall be placed in a program consistent with the IEP or EP.

For more information on ESE transferring students, parents should contact the receiving ESE office in the district where the family is going to move as soon as possible to alert the district and to identify the required documentation needed to make the assignment.

Back to top

Where can I find more information about exceptional student education?

The Florida Department of Education has a resource center that provides parents, educators, and other Floridians with access to materials about people with exceptionalities, exceptional student education, school improvement, student outcomes, coordinated school health, parent and professional partnerships, and many other topics.

Additional information about special education in Florida can be found at the Florida Department of Education's Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services and the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS).

Back to top

All Florida Statutes cited on these pages are also available on the Florida Legislature website.