Special Education


The Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School provides a continuum of Special Education services for our qualifying students. These services are delivered through the Diamond Model of Partnership and in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 711. All PA Virtual Special Education Teachers are highly qualified, PA-certified and work cooperatively with all members of a student’s team, and construct Individualized Education Plans to meet the needs of our students.



  1. This chapter specifies how the Commonwealth, through the Department, will meet its obligation to ensure that charter schools and cyber charter schools comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations in 34 CFR Part 300 (relating to assistance to states for the education of children with disabilities), and Section 504 and its implementing regulations in 34 CFR Part 104 (relating to nondiscrimination on the basis of handicap in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance).
  2. This chapter does not prevent a charter school or cyber charter school and a school district from entering into agreements regarding the provision of services and programs to comply with this chapter, whether or not the agreements involve payment for the services and programs by the charter school or the cyber charter school.
  3. Charter schools and cyber charter schools are exempt from Chapter 14 (relating to special education services and programs). See 24 P. S. § 17-1732-A.
  4. Children with disabilities shall have access to the general curriculum, and participate in State and local assessments as established and described in Chapter 4 (relating to academic standards and assessment).
  5. The Department supports the use of pre-referral intervention strategies, in accordance with 34 CFR 300.226 (relating to early intervening services) and as outlined in § 711.23(c) (relating to screening) to promote students’ success in the general education environment.


The Education of the Handicapped Act, Public Law (P.L.) 94-142, was passed by Congress in 1975 and amended by P.L. 99-457 in 1986 to ensure that all children with disabilities would have a free, appropriate public education available to them which would meet their unique needs. It was again amended in 1990 and the name was changed to IDEA.

  1. IDEA defines  “children with disabilities” as having any of the following types of disabilities: autism, deaf, deaf-blindness, hearing impairments (including deafness), intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairments (including blindness). These terms are defined in the regulations for IDEA, as described below.
  2. AUTISM – A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects educational performance.
  3. DEAFNESS – A hearing impairment which is so severe that a child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, which adversely affects educational performance.
  4. DEAF-BLINDNESS – Simultaneous hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational problems that a child cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.
  5. HEARING IMPAIRMENT – A hearing impairment, whether permanent or fluctuating, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance but which is not included under the definition of “deafness.”
  6. MENTAL RETARDATION – Significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
  7. MULTIPLE DISABILITIES – Simultaneous impairments (such as mental retardation/blindness, mental retardation/ orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational problems that the child cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include children with deaf-blindness.
  8. ORTHOPEDIC IMPAIRMENT – A severe orthopedic impairment which adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly (e.g. clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g. poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns which cause contractures).
  9. OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENT – Having limited strength, vitality or alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance. According to the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ clarification statement of September 16, 1991, eligible children with ADD may also be classified under “other health impairment.”
  10. SERIOUS EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE – A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which adversely affects educational performance: (A) an inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; (B) an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; (C) inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; (D) a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or (E) a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. (II.) The term includes children who have schizophrenia. The term does not include children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have a serious emotional disturbance.
  11. SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY – A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
  12. SPEECH OR LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT – A communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
  13. TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY – An injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment, or both, which adversely affects educational performance. The term does not include brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
  14. VISUAL IMPAIRMENT, INCLUDING BLINDNESS – A visual impairment which, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both children with partial sight and those with blindness.


Child Find is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening and evaluation designed to locate, identify and refer as early as possible all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of Early Intervention Program (Part C) or Preschool Special Education (Part B/619) services of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

To receive Early Intervention Program or Special Education, children must meet eligibility guidelines according to the IDEA. States have different eligibility guidelines for their Early Intervention Program and Special Education services. In addition to children with disabilities, some states have elected to provide early intervention services for infants and toddlers who are at risk of developmental delay and their families. For information on the definition of disability under IDEA and eligibility criteria for early intervention in your state, contact your state’s Part C coordinator at http://www.nectac.org/contact/Ptccoord.asp

IDEA requires all states to have a “comprehensive Child Find system” to assure that all children who are in need of early intervention or special education services are located, identified, and referred. The lead agency for Part C of IDEA Early Intervention Program and for Part B/619 (serving preschoolers with special educational needs) in each state is responsible for planning and implement a comprehensive child find system. In some states, the lead agency for these two programs is one and the same, while in others, different agencies oversee the two programs.


The Notice of Procedural Safeguards: Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities explains the specific rights and responsibilities of the parent in the special education process. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA 2004) requires school districts to give parents the Procedural Safeguards only one time a year, except upon: initial referral or on request for evaluation; the first occurrence of the filing of a due process hearing complaint; are upon request by a parent.

SPED Annual Notice Download 

FERPA Policy Download