Special Education Eligibility

For a child to be eligible for special education services, all of the following must be true:

  • The child must be between the age ranges specified by federal and state law:
    • Massachusetts: Ages 3 – 21, inclusive. 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(1)(A) and 603 C.M.R. 28.02(9). 
    • New Hampshire: Ages  3 – 20, inclusive.  New Hampshire also requires the identification and evaluation of special education students starting at age 2.5, so that an IEP can be in place immediately upon reaching age 3.  Ed 1105.
  • The child must have a disability (see below for more information);
  • The child must not be making effective progress in regular education due to that disability; and
  • The child requires specially designed instruction or a related service.

To qualify as a child with a disability for special education purposes, your child’s disability must be categorized according to terms set out under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) or under state law.  New Hampshire follows the IDEA categories, which are:

  1. intellectual disabilities,
  2. hearing impairments (including deafness),
  3. speech or language impairments,
  4. visual impairments (including blindness),
  5. serious emotional disturbance (referred to in IDEA as “emotional disturbance”),
  6. orthopedic impairments,
  7. autism,
  8. traumatic brain injury,
  9. other health impairments, or
  10. specific learning disabilities.

20 U.S.C. 1401(3)(A); 34 CFR 300.8.

New Hampshire also recognizes developmental delays in children ages 3 – 9 as a disability category.  20 U.S.C. 1401(3)(B); 34 C.F.R. 300.8(b); RSA 186-C:2, I-a.

Massachusetts has its own disability category list, which is as follows (603 C.M.R. 28.02(7)):

  1. autism,
  2. developmental delay,
  3. intellectual impairment,
  4. sensory impairment (including hearing impairment, deafness, visual impairment, and blindness),
  5. neurological impairment,
  6. emotional impairment,
  7. communication impairment,
  8. physical impairment,
  9. health impairment, or
  10. specific learning disabilities.

 The Law Office of James M. Baron represents students and parents in special education and other school-related legal matters.  Please visit http://www.lawbaron.com, or call 781-209-1166 for more information.

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