Student Services » Special Education

Special Education

What Is Special Education?

Special education provides students with identified disabilities specialized instruction designed to meet their unique learning needs, giving them the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.


About Special Education


The Fairfax Special Education Department provides oversight and coordination of all special education services throughout the Fairfax School District. This includes the identification, assessment, and services for all children, from age three through the sixth grade, who require the intensive intervention of special education in order to learn and benefit from their educational program. A wide array of programs and services are provided to students. 


 IEP Eligibility

Once  a child has been evaluated the team determines if the child is eligible for an IEP. To do this, they have to answer two questions: Does the child have one or more of the 13 conditions that are covered under the special education law IDEA? And does the child need services and accommodations to succeed at school?


   What are the 13 conditions?       

Emotional Disturbance
Hard of Hearing 
Intellectual Disability
Multiple Disabilities
Orthopedic Impairment
Other Health Impairment
Speech/Language Impairment
Specific Learning Disability
Traumatic Brain Injury
Visual Impairment


Special Education Programs

-Speech and Language Services - The Fairfax School District provides to all children eligible under state and federal (IDEA) law speech-language services ages preschool through eighth grade. The Speech-Language Pathologist conducts assessments and provides therapy for speech articulation and language difficulties. Testing for articulation or any aspect of language including nonverbal communication, pragmatics, grammar, or syntax is handled by the Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP). This includes testing the student on multiple occasions to ensure that proper results are found, and the student has the ability to test in the least restrictive environment. After the testing is concluded, the results must be scored against national norms and transferred onto a formal assessment report. Therapy from a Speech-Language Pathologist is a special education service for which children must qualify for under state and federal (IDEA) law in which an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed and implemented.

  • Specialized Academic Instruction - Specialized academic instruction is determined by the IEP team and is determined from assessment information, data collected, and goals/objectives developed in the student's area(s) of need. To ensure that students who receive special education services have appropriate access to the general curriculum, the team may determine supports needed by the student to make educational gains including adapting the content, approach or delivery of instruction. Services may be provided to students in a regular education classroom, in a separate classroom, in a special day classroom, or a combination both. Based on the special education student's specific needs, the IEP team may determine specific subjects, duration and location for general education mainstreaming as well as determine services the student receives. Each student's educational needs are unique, and services will vary based on those needs.
  • Special Day Classes (SDC)  - Students are grouped with others who share similar instructional needs.  Each class has a credentialed special education teacher and an instructional aide.
  • Resource Specialist Program (RSP) - This is a form of special education available to students with mild to moderate learning disabilities, who are having trouble in one or more areas of classroom learning. 

Least Restrictive Environment

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires for all students with disabilities to be educated in the least restrictive environment that is most appropriate for them. The least restrictive environment is typically the educational setting that is most similar to the setting/program attended by general education students.