Special Education Services

Program Goal

To ensure that a free appropriate public education and full educational opportunity in the least restrictive environment are provided to students with disabilities by:

  • Making school programs more effective and improving outcomes for students.
  • Ensuring that federal and state regulations are followed.
  • Ensuring the protections guaranteed to students with disabilities and their parents are enforced.


Children ages 3-21 with disabilities who live in New York State are eligible. Students thought to have a disability are referred to a multidisciplinary team (e.g., teachers, psychologists, and therapists) called the Committee on Preschool Special Education or the Committee on Special Education. The Committee arranges for an evaluation of the student's abilities and needs. Based on evaluation results, the committee decides if the student is eligible to receive special education services and programs.


"Special education" means specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services or programs to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. Special education services and programs are provided at no cost to the parent.

For high school students, the Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) provides counselors who work with students within two years of expected graduation to help with the transition planning process. Counselors can help an eligible person with a disability plan for a career, obtain job coaching and training, and work with employers and training centers to ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided.

The Office of Special Education (OSE) provides leadership and support to ensure that federal and State special education requirements are consistently implemented statewide through:

  • Training, technical assistance and quality assurance activities to address the needs of students with disabilities, their families, education and other appropriate personnel who provide educational programs and services to students with disabilities.
  • Policy development and technical assistance to special education programs provided to students with disabilities, ages 3 through 21, in public and nonpublic schools, including school districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), State-operated and State-supported schools, approved private schools, charter schools, and Special Act School Districts.
  • Special education technical assistance centers and resources for parents and schools. Additional information on special education technical assistance can be found at www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/techassist/.
    • Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers
      The OSE has established a coordinated statewide network of 10 Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers (RSE-TASC). The RSE-TASC are located in those school districts needing assistance to improve results for students with disabilities and to meet the State's targets for improvement. Each RSE-TASC includes both regional technical assistance specialists (such as behavior specialists, bilingual special education specialists, regional trainers, transition specialists and nondistrict technical assistance providers), as well as special education school improvement specialists who are located within each BOCES and in the Buffalo, New York City, Syracuse, Rochester and Yonkers school districts.
    • Special Education Parent Centers
      Thirteen Special Education Parent Centers provide parents of children with disabilities with information, resources and strategies to promote their meaningful involvement in their children's education programs, including information regarding the special education process (referrals, individual evaluations, individualized education program development and transition planning); assist in understanding their children's 32 disabilities; promote early resolution of disputes between parents and school districts; promote the use of resolution sessions and special education mediation; assist in understanding procedural due process rights, including the right to impartial hearings and appeals, and the State complaint process; and enhance parents' skills and levels of confidence to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with other schools and stakeholders to advocate and actively participate in their children's education program.
    • Early Childhood Direction Centers
      Early Childhood Direction Centers (ECDCs) assist parents in the referral of their children for special education and provide training and parent education on the special education process; provide information and support for children transitioning from Early Intervention services to preschool special education; and provide important assistance to ensure the timely evaluation and provision of services to preschool children with disabilities.
    • Response to Intervention Technical Assistance Center
      The Response to Intervention Technical Assistance Center (RtI-TAC) provides technical assistance to school districts to implement model Response to Intervention (RtI) programs that identify general education students struggling in academic and behavioral areas early and provides them with systematically applied strategies and targeted instruction at varying levels of intervention.
    • Center for Autism and Related Disabilities
      The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) works with school districts to assist them in building capacity to develop effective educational programs for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Center also provides regional seminars to school professionals and parents on essential components of effective programs for students with ASD.

For More Information

Contact OSE for general policy issues at (518) 473-2878, or the local Special Education Quality Assurance Regional Offices at the following locations:

Eastern Regional Office
Albany, NY
518) 486-6366
Long Island Regional Office
Hauppauge, NY
(631) 952-3352
Western Regional Office
Batavia, NY
(585) 344-2002
New York City Regional Office
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 722-4544
Central Regional Office
Syracuse, NY
(315) 428-4556
Nondistrict Unit Office
Albany, NY
(518) 473-1185
Hudson Valley Regional Office
Albany, NY
(518) 473-1185
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Publication 0548
Revised 10/2013