Special Education


  • Adapted PE: 210-397-2453 
  • Assistive Technology: 210-397-3527
  • Auditory Impairment: 210-397-1578 
  • Autism: 210-397-8742 
  • Homebound: 210-397-8811 
  • OT/PT: 210-397-2428 
  • Psychological Services: 210-397-3508 
  • Special Education: 210-397-8742 
  • Speech/Language: 210-397-8751 
  • Visual Impairment: 210-397-3568


  • A letter re: HB657, in both English and Spanish, describes the processes in place for 5th & 8th grade students who failed STAAR.


Child Find

Most children reach developmental milestones at about the same rate. However, some children may be delayed in some areas and require assistance.  Other children may exhibit significant speech/language, health, physical, mental or emotional problems which can negatively affect their educational progress. Children with developmental delays or specific difficulties may be helped through Child Find.

Section 504

Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . ." 

Acronyms and Glossary of Terms

Commonly Used Acronyms in Special Education.

Aiding Students Who Have Learning Difficulties or Who Need Special Education or Section 504 Services

For those students who are having difficulty in the regular classroom, all school districts and open enrollment charter schools must consider tutorial, compensatory, and other academic or behavior support services that are available to all students, including a process based on Response to Intervention (RtI). The implementation of RtI has the potential to have a positive impact on the ability of districts and charter schools to meet the needs of all struggling students.

If a student is experiencing learning difficulties, his or her parent may contact the individual(s) listed below to learn about the school’s overall general education referral or screening system for support services. This system links students to a variety of support options, including making a referral for a special education evaluation or for a Section 504 evaluation to determine if the student needs specific aids, accommodations, or services. A parent may request an evaluation for special education or Section 504 services at any time.

Special Education Referrals

If a parent makes a written request for an initial evaluation for special education services to the director of special education services or an administrative employee of the school district or open enrollment charter school, the district or charter school must respond no later than 15 school days after receiving the request. At that time, the district or charter school must give the parent a prior written notice of whether it agrees to or refuses to evaluate the student, along with a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards. If the school district or charter school agrees to evaluate the student, it must also give the parent the opportunity to give written consent for the evaluation.

Please note that a request for a special education evaluation may be made verbally and does not need to be in writing. Districts and charter schools must still comply with all federal prior written notice and procedural safeguard requirements and the requirements for identifying, locating, and evaluating children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education. However, a verbal request does not require the district or charter school to respond within the 15-school-day timeline.

If the district or charter school decides to evaluate the student, it must complete the student’s initial evaluation and evaluation report no later than 45 school days from the day it receives a parent’s written consent to evaluate the student. However, if the student is absent from school during the evaluation period for three or more school days, the evaluation period will be extended by the number of school days equal to the number of school days that the student is absent.

There is an exception to the 45-school-day timeline. If a district or charter school receives a parent’s consent for the initial evaluation at least 35 but less than 45 school days before the last instructional day of the school year, it must complete the written report and provide a copy of the report to the parent by June 30 of that year. However, if the student is absent from school for three or more days during the evaluation period, the June 30th due date no longer applies. Instead, the general timeline of 45 school days plus extensions for absences of three or more days will apply.

Upon completing the evaluation, the district or charter school must give the parent a copy of the evaluation report at no cost.

Additional information regarding special education is available from the district or charter school in a companion document titled Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process.

Contact Person for Special Education Referrals

The designated person to contact regarding options for a student experiencing learning difficulties or regarding a referral for evaluation for special education services is Dr. Coleman Heckman at (210) 397-3508.

Section 504 Referrals

Each school district or charter school must have standards and procedures in place for the evaluation and placement of students in the district’s or charter school’s Section 504 program. Districts and charter schools must also implement a system of procedural safeguards that includes notice, an opportunity for a parent or guardian to examine relevant records, an impartial hearing with an opportunity for participation by the parent or guardian and representation by counsel, and a review procedure.

Contact Person for Section 504 Referrals

The designated person to contact regarding options for a student experiencing learning difficulties or regarding a referral for evaluation for Section 504 services is Anna Draker at (210) 397-8810.

Updates in Special Education

Beginning with the 2017 school year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) changed the way it reports special education enrollment in school systems. TEA no longer includes a target for a school system’s total numbers of students in special education as part of state monitoring.

For special education representation, TEA only reports on over- representation within certain race, ethnicity and disability categories, as required by federal law. School systems cannot use this reporting data to delay, deny or prevent a referral for an evaluation for special education services.

Special education/IDEA eligibility

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, also known as IDEA, is a federal law that gives eligible students with disabilities the right to receive special education services and assistance in school. To be eligible for special education services, a student with a disability must need instruction that is specially designed to meet the student’s unique needs based on that disability.

Who can request an evaluation for special education?

A parent or guardian has the right to request a special education evaluation at any time. It is best to submit this request in writing to your school’s principal or to the school district’s special education director. If your child is pre-school age and not yet enrolled in school, send the letter to the district’s special education director.

If the school knows or has reason to suspect that the student has a disability and a need for special education services, the school must refer the student for a special education evaluation. More information on evaluation timelines can be found on the TEA website. A parent or guardian has the right to request a special education evaluation at any time.

Resources for Families

TEA has created topic specific information for families. Family members can call (855) 773-3839 or visit SpEdTex.org to find answers to their questions as well as general information about special education.

Additional Information

The following websites provide information and resources for students with disabilities and their families.

Commonly used acronyms in special education

(not an exhaustive list)

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act IEP Individualized Education Plan

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Type 1, Type 2, or Combined Type)

LRE Least Restrictive Environment
AEP Alternative Education Program MD Multiple Disabilities
AI Auditory Impairment MT Music Therapy
APE Adapted Physical Education NICHY National Information Center for Children & Youth with Disabilities
ARD Admission, Review & Dismissal NISD Northside Independent School District
AU Autism OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
BIP Behavior Intervention Plan ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder
CBI Community Based Instruction OH or OHI Other Health Impairment
CP Cerebral Palsy OI Orthopedic Impairment
DARS Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services O&M Orientation & Mobility
DB Deaf-Blind OJT On the Job Training
DNQ Does Not Qualify OT Occupational Therapy
DSM-5 Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition PAC Parent Advisory Committee
ECC Early Childhood Collaborative PDD Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Autism Spectrum)
ECI Early Childhood Intervention PT Physical Therapy
ECSE Early Childhood Special Education (formerly known as PPCD - Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) REACH Resource for Parents of Children with Autism
ED Emotional Disturbance RDSPD Regional Day School Program for the Deaf
EOC End of Course (exam) RtI Response to Intervention
ESY Extended School Year SI Speech Impairment
FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education SLD Specific Learning Disability
FBA Functional Behavior Assessment SLP Speech Language Pathologist
FERPA Family Education Rights & Privacy Act STAAR State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness
FIE Full & Individual Evaluation STAAR-ALT 2 State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness - Alternate 2nd Edition
IA Instructional Assistant TBI Traumatic Brain Injury
ID Intellectual Disability TEA Texas Education Agency
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (2004 Reauthorization) TEKS Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills
IEE Independent Educational Evaluation VI Visual Impairment
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