Special Education Regulations

Special Education laws, regulations, and policy establish the requirements for educating students with disabilities.

Laws, Regulations, and Policy

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


Congress enacted IDEA based on its finding that “disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.”

Federal Regulations for Implementing IDEA

The U.S. Department of Education issues federal regulations for implementing IDEA and to govern the Assistance to States for Education of Children with Disabilities Program and the Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities Program. These rules are published in Part 300 of the 34th Code of Federal Regulations (34 CFR).

Annual State Application Under Part B of the IDEA 2004 for Federal FY 2016


2016 Rhode Island Part B IDEA Application

Annual State Application Under Part B of the IDEA 2004 for Federal FY2017

Each year the Rhode Island Department of Education applies for a grant award under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A draft of the proposed application and accompanying use of funds spreadsheet are posted for a 60 day public review period and 30 day public comment period. The Rhode Island application and spreadsheet are available for public review and comment March 6, 2017 through May 4, 2017 at 4:00PM. Comments may be submitted through email to Karen Lovett at Karen.Lovett@ride.ri.gov or mailed to:

IDEA Part B Application-Public Comment
Attention: Karen Lovett
Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903

General questions or requests for alternative formats of the application may be directed to Karen Lovett via email or by calling 401-222-8333.

Rhode Island Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities

State Regulations

Rhode Island establishes state regulations for implementing IDEA. These rules are designed to ensure a free, appropriate public education for children with disabilities, protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents, assist agencies to provide for the education of children with disabilities, and to assess and ensure the effectiveness of these efforts. The RIDE Office of Student, Community and Academic Supports oversees these state regulations.

See additional standards for meeting Rhode Island Regulations

Employment First Policy

Commissioner Deborah A. Gist approved an Employment First policy for the Rhode Island Department of Education. Employment First is a commitment to students with intellectual/developmental disabilities to support their transition from public education into meaningful, community integrated training and employment opportunities at competitive wages upon exiting public education.

In 2014, the State of Rhode Island entered into a Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act for operating day activity centers and sheltered workshops for individuals with intellectual /developmental disabilities. As part of this settlement, the State of Rhode Island and the involved agencies that support youth and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities agreed to implement a state Employment First policy.

In approving this policy, RIDE is endorsing the belief Rhode Island students with intellectual /developmental disabilities are capable of working in integrated work settings for competitive wages and RIDE will work in partnership with the adult service system to achieve this outcome.

Rhode Island Special Education Procedural Safeguards Notice

Know your rights!

This notice is the state’s model form for explaining parents’ rights under special education law and regulations. Federal and state regulations require schools to provide you with such a notice containing a full explanation of your rights in special education.

State Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities

The Rhode Island Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities provide for the establishment of state criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities. On June 4, 2009, the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education approved Rhode Island’s State Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities.

Please see the Special Education Resource page for more information.

Be Informed!

Rhode Island State Systemic Improvement Plan

On April 1, 2016 RIDE will submit the Sate Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) to the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP). The State Systemic Improvement Plan is one of the State Performance Plan indicators (Indicator 17) and requires the state to identify a specific performance indicator and design a targeted improvement plan to address the performance target. The state team that has been working on this indicator is finalizing the state’s submission and comments are welcome.

Please review the power point presentation (see link below) and submit your comments to Karen.Lovett@ride.ri.gov. Please include in the subject line: RI SSIP Implementation Plan.

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