Challenge #7: Meeting the Needs of BPS Students with Disabilities (#SFB10Challenges)

For families of students with disabilities, they are often faced with challenges along every step of their child’s education pathway. These challenges include the initial assessment for special education service, creation of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and continue through their transition out of the Boston Public Schools. 

Looking at transitions specifically, SchoolFacts Boston Family Advisory Board member Michelle Novelle shares, “Although we talk about transition, there are so many things that families are unaware of that are massively important … that schools could work at.”

“There are lots of real, practical steps that can be taken to mitigate some of the stressors that families of kids with special needs feel.”

Please watch this clip as Michelle — a licensed therapist and parent to children with special needs — identifies areas where transitional services provided by the BPS could be improved, including:

  • Support around guardianship
  • Job training and placement
  • Ensuring that students with disabilities are provided with meaningful opportunities for integration into their communities.

Key Terms:

Individualized Education Program or Plan (IEP): A comprehensive, legal document that outlines the supports and special education services a student will receive to “make progress and thrive” in school. IEPs are protected under state and federal law.

504 Plan: While a 504 plan is different than an IEP, it is also a legal document designed to support students with disabilities in schools. Unlike an IEP — which may be provided to students who qualify for special education services following an independent educational evaluation (IEE) — a 504 plan is not always preceded by an IEE.

Guardianship: When a student with disabilities reaches the age of 18, parents may need to seek guardianship if their child is unable to make decisions around finances, medical care, and other key decisions. This can be both a lengthy and expensive process through the courts.