Special Education Law

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has developed compilations of federal and state special education law by major topic to assist districts in complying with these laws.

As another source of technical and legal guidance, sets of Question-and-Answer documents on a variety of special education topics are posted on the Compliance and Assistance Q&As page.

  • Identification Standards 
    Identification means the continuous and systematic effort by the district to identify, locate, and screen students, birth through age 21, who may need special education services. Each district must develop a comprehensive identification system that identifies students with disabilities from birth through school age who are attending both public and nonpublic schools and those who are not attending school.
  • Referral Standards 
    Referral is a formal, ongoing process for receiving and responding to referrals when a student shows signs of potentially needing special education and related services. Each district’s child study procedures must include a plan for receiving referrals.
  • Evaluation Standards 
    Evaluation or Reevaluation is the process of utilizing formal and informal procedures to determine specific areas of a student’s strengths, needs, and eligibility for special education services. Each district must conduct a full and individual evaluation of a student for the purposes of special education that meet all state and federal requirements.
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) Planning and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) Planning Standards 
    IEP planning and IFSP planning are the processes of determining, based on assessment data and a student’s educational needs, and then completing a written statement, such as an IEP or IFSP, that is developed, reviewed, and revised by a team of individuals. Each district must develop a policy that describes the district’s procedures for implementing the use of conditional interventions with pupils.
  • Staffing Standards 
    Staffing refers to the identification of the required and qualified personnel to deliver the prescribed program according to a pupil’s needs. Each district must have a policy that provides for measurable steps to recruit, hire, train, and retain highly qualified personnel to provide special education and related services under this part to children with disabilities.
  • Facility Standards 
    Facilities refer to the actual locations of classrooms and other facilities in which students with disabilities receive instruction, related services, and the supplementary aids and necessary special equipment and instructional materials that must be supplied.
  • Due Process Procedural Safeguards/Parent Involvement Standards 
    Due Process Procedures refers to the rights and procedural safeguards afforded to parents and children or students with disabilities under state and federal law. Parents of children or students with disabilities must be provided the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of developing, planning, acquiring, and implementing special education and related services specific to their child.
  • Personnel Development Standards 
    Personnel development is a structure for personnel planning and focuses on preservice and inservice needs in order to plan a program to meet the needs of pupils with disabilities. Each district must ensure that all personnel necessary to carry out Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are appropriately and adequately prepared.
  • Interagency and Community Relations Standards 
    Interagency system refers to the development and implementation of a coordinated, multi-disciplinary, interagency, intervention services system for children and students with disabilities and their families.
  • Transportation Standards 
    Transportation is among the numerous types of related services required to assist a child or student with a disability to benefit from special education. A district must develop and implement a comprehensive, written policy governing student transportation safety, including transportation of nonpublic school students and students attending charter schools located within the district’s boundaries.
  • Coordination Standards 
    Coordination with other educational programs is the process districts use to provide special education within the context of all other educational programs. The school board in each district shall adopt a written plan to assure that the curriculum developed for use in district schools establishes and maintains an inclusive educational program.
  • Fiscal Standards 
    Fiscal resources are the means for purchasing and/or obtaining the supplies, materials, equipment, services, and personnel required to provide programs for students with disabilities. The district, in providing for the education of students with disabilities within its jurisdiction, must have in effect policies, procedures, and programs that are consistent with the State’s policies and procedures.
  • Governance Standards 
    Governance is the administrative structure and long-range planning through which the special education system operates. Each district must have in effect policies that are consistent with State and federal requirements.
  • Discipline Standards 
    Discipline of students with disabilities may take form in a variety of actions by district personnel, such as dismissal, removal, exclusion, suspension, or expulsion. Districts must provide a free appropriate public education to all children residing in the State between the ages of 3 and 21, including children with disabilities, who have been suspended or expelled from school.

Total Special Education System

  • Total Special Education System (TSES) Guidance 
    This instruction document is intended to provide technical assistance to individuals completing the TSES template provided by MDE.
  • Total Special Education System (TSES) Template 
    The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has developed this template for documenting special education policies, procedures and programs. This template provides a format that references the required elements for compliance with district responsibilities for total special education systems as required by Minnesota Rule 3525.1100.