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Parent Special Education Information

PACER is the Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs.

Every child is unique and learns in different ways. If your child has been identified as needing special education services to support his or her learning at school, you can play a major role in shaping the services your child receives.

This section will help you understand the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the importance of your participation in developing your child's IEP Plan. You are a required member of your child's IEP team, and your ideas must always be considered in any decisions the IEP team makes. The development of the IEP is required in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), its regulations (known as 34 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 300 and 301), and in Minnesota state special education rules and statutes. The federal regulations, which have the force of law, explain how the law will be carried out.

Each state implements the federal laws somewhat differently. If your child qualifies for special education and attends a private school, you may call PACER Center for more information on special education for private school students.

The purpose of special education is

“to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.” — IDEA 601(d)(1)


parent-homework-sheet part 1

Video Series: Parent Homework Sheet

PACER parent advocates have developed a tool called the Parent Homework Sheet. We developed it to help parents of children with disabilities understand how the needs of the student as stated in the special education evaluation report connect with the goals and support in the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program). Watching this series of short videos will help parents prepare to discuss their child’s special education services with the IEP team.

Video: Special Education overview in ASL

This video overview of special education In American Sign Language was created to help parents who use sign language and are parents of children with disabilities understand what special education is, how a child might get into special education, how to resolve disagreements, and what role parents play.


Understanding the Special Education Process

See an overview chart of the special education process. Learn about the structure of special education in Minnesota. Tips for effectively communicating in IEP meetings and many more resources.

Improve Communications with School Staff

PACER’s parent advocates often hear from parents when they encounter certain statements or situations at school meetings that they find uncomfortable or uncertain. These tips are suggestions and techniques from PACER advocates to help parents address some of those concerns, as well as improve communication with school staff.

Who is on my Childs IEP Team?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) calls for a team of individuals, including parents and school personnel, to work together to develop an Individual Educational Program (IEP) for a child who qualifies for special education services.
Because IEP decisions are made by a team rather than by any one individual, it’s important and helpful to understand the role of each member. While each person brings a different set of experiences, concerns, and skills to the table, you can expect that they all share a common goal: enabling the child to succeed in school and in life.

School Discipline Guide

Parents of children with disabilities often ask:

  • Can the school send my child home before the end of the school day?
  • Can the school district suspend my child?
  • Can the school district expel my child?
  • What happens to my child’s educational services if he or she is sent home, suspended, or expelled?

This interactive guide will answer these and many other questions. Whether your child is on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan, or if you suspect that your child has a disability that affects his or her behavior at school, this guide will help you understand the complex disciplinary process for Minnesota public school children with disabilities.

Additional resources

If your child has an IEP or will be getting one, we recommend starting with:

A Guide for Minnesota Parents to the Individualized Education Program (IEP)

A guide for minnesota parents to the individualized education program (iep)

2018 edition | 34 page pdf

or Call PACER Center (952-838-9000) for a printed copy, free to MN parents.