How to Get Out of Special Education

Three Parts:Learning About the Legal IssuesFinding an AllyThriving in the Classroom

There are many reasons that kids are placed in special education. Sometimes it is because they have been diagnosed with autism or ADHD. Other times, the student might be struggling with behavior in a traditional classroom, or have other disabilities that limit how they can move around and learn in a typical classroom. Special education can be very helpful for a lot of people. However, you may feel that it's a bad fit for you. If you want to move out of special education, it takes more than just asking your teacher or parents. You'll need to learn about the legal issues in your state, and take steps to communicate with your parents and the school about your needs.

Part 1
Learning About the Legal Issues

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    Understand why you're in special education and what an IEP is. If you weren't placed in special education recently, you may not remember much about the placement process. Learning about the laws may seem hard at first, but if you really want to get out of special education, it will be useful for you to learn about the legal issues and the placement process.[1]
    • Your first step is to learn about your IEP. This stands for Individualized Education Program. Your IEP is a written plan made after you were tested for special education. It lists your educational needs and outlines a plan for meeting those needs.
    • Throughout your time at school, there will likely be several meetings of people involved with your IEP. One or both of your parents will attend these meetings, as well as a general education teacher and a special education teacher.
    • In some cases, you (the student) will also attend the IEP meeting. This would be a good place for you to ask questions about moving out of special education.
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    Learn why special education exists. If you are trying to change your school plan, you should know about the basic laws that regulate special education. When you talk to your parents or teachers about getting out of special education, they might mention laws, or terms like FAPE. By learning about these laws beforehand, you will be ready for these conversations.
    • FAPE stands for "Free Appropriate Public Education". It is a right that applies to every kid in every state in the United States, as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).[2]
    • FAPE says that you should get an education that will meet your needs. That means if you have been diagnosed with a learning disability (LD), the school needs to find a way to teach you effectively. Sometimes that means getting lessons outside of the regular classroom.
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    Figure out what is required by the school district. Under federal and state laws, your school is required to provide you with what is called a "least restrictive environment" (LRE). This means that the school must figure out which services you need and how to provide you with those services.[3]
    • Special education is not necessarily a place, but rather a set of services. That means that you might spend parts of your day in different classrooms in the school, or just meeting with a different teacher. It's not about going to one special classroom, but about getting help to learn in a way that helps you to do well.
    • The school needs to figure out the best way to meet your needs while you are alongside students without additional needs. If that can't be done, you may be "pulled out" of the classroom to meet with a special education teacher.
    • Your IEP team is in charge of determining your LRE. They will decide where you need extra help outside of the regular classroom, or if you can just get help in your normal classes.
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    Know your legal rights. Whether or not you are in charge of your education depends on your age. If you are under the age of 18, your parents will almost certainly have legal power over your education. If you are legally a minor, you will need your parents' permission to get out of special education.[4]
    • Each state has different laws about at what age you are considered a legal adult. In most states, you are legally an adult when you turn 18. You can check the website Sex Etc to find out the rules about the age of majority in your state.[5]
    • If you are 18 or older, you can legally be in charge of decisions regarding your education. You will still need to talk to your IEP team about making changes.
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    Understand your parents' options. As your legal guardians, your parents have the final say in whether or not you are in special education. If you do not live with your parents, your legal guardian might be a relative or foster parent. If that's the case, the legal guardian is the person who can request to remove you from special education.[6]
    • The school district needs to have permission from your parents to test you, or place you in special education. Your parents have the right to take away their permission at any time.
    • In most school districts, your parents must take away their permission in writing. This means that your mom can't just call one of your teachers and ask for you to be placed in the general classroom.
    • Each school district follows its own rules and policies. Ask your IEP team if there is a special form that your parents must fill out in order to stop giving permission.
    • It is important for your parents to understand that they cannot pick and choose which of the suggested programs you stay in.[7] For example, your parents can't decide to take the IEP-recommended help in Math, but not in English. Your parents can elect whether to have you in special education at all, but they can't decide they only want you to have services in one area and not another, if both were recommended by the IEP team. The IEP team has to make those kinds of decisions as a whole. If your parents stop giving permission, the school district must stop providing special education services to you, so you might lose some options that really do help you.
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    Think about the benefits of special education. You may feel like you do not need to be in special education. It is normal to feel that way, especially if most of your friends are in a different classroom. However, it is a good idea to think about the positive parts of being in special education.[8]
    • When you are thinking about trying to get out of special education, think about the ways that it is useful to be there. Try making a list.
    • Write down the good things. For example, you might say, "It is great to be in a smaller classroom. There is always a teacher available to answer my questions."
    • You might also think about how your needs are being met. For example, you might say, "I know I sometimes have trouble concentrating. It's nice to have a teacher who understands how to help me focus."
    • Remember that being tested and placed in special education is a lengthy process. If you decide to leave the program, you might not be able to easily get back in.

Part 2
Finding an Ally

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    Think about why you don't want to be in special education. A good special education program can actually help you focus, learn, and thrive in school. However, if you don't feel like it's the right place for you, think about your motivations for getting out. If you are under 18, you will need your parents or legal guardian to help you with the process. In order to get permission, you will have to convince your parents that getting out of special education is right for you.[9]
    • Before you talk to your parents, think carefully about your reasons for wanting to leave special education. Try making a list of your reasons.
    • Think about what you like and dislike about school. Use these preferences and feelings to help explain why you don't want to be in special education.
    • Write down your feelings. For example, you could write, "I feel like I am doing better work in the general classroom."
    • Maybe you are thinking about your future. For example, you could write, "I want to prepare myself for college. I think I can do that better outside of special education."
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    Plan what you want to say. It can be scary to have a serious conversation with adults. Even if you have a great relationship with your parents, it can still make you feel nervous to bring up an important topic. Take some time to figure out what you want to say.[10]
    • Preparing to talk to your parents about your education can make you feel less nervous. It's a good idea to take some time to plan in advance what you want to say.
    • Write down your main points. You can use your list of feelings and ideas from before. You can say, "I want to get the best education possible, and I feel like that will be in the general classroom."
    • Practice what you want to say. Talk to yourself in the mirror or ask a friend to listen to you practice your argument.
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    Talk with your teacher. Your teacher can be very helpful in this situation. After all, your teacher is familiar with both your strengths and your needs. Try talking to your teacher about what you want to get out of your education.[11]
    • Be respectful. Try saying, "Mr. Smith, I want to talk to you about the classes I'm in. Can I make an appointment to speak to you?"
    • Be honest. You can say, "Mr. Smith, I feel like it would benefit me to leave the special education program."
    • Ask questions. Ask for specific information. For example, you can say, "What do I need to do to be moved out of special education?"
    • You can also ask for support. Try saying, "Would you be willing to talk to my parents on my behalf?"
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    Talk to your parents. After you have gathered your information and thought about your feelings, it is time to approach your parents. Your goal is to have a positive, constructive conversation. Make sure to make your needs clear.[12]
    • Choose a good time. Try saying, "Mom, I have something I'd like to discuss with you. Do you have time to talk after dinner?"
    • Try not to be emotional. This is obviously a really important conversation, but if you stay calm and clear-headed, your parents will be more likely to listen to you.
    • Explain your point of view. You can say, "Dad, I feel like I will learn a lot more in the general classroom. It's something I would like you to consider letting me try."
    • Avoid yelling or getting upset if you don't get the answer you want. This won't make your parent or guardian think that you should be in general education classes.
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    Communicate effectively. There are several things you can do to make these conversations better. Whether your are talking to your parents or your teachers, there are steps you can take to communicate effectively. Be prepared to communicate verbally and non-verbally.[13]
    • Be prepared. Whenever you are having an important conversation, it is helpful to figure out what you want to say. Don't be afraid to carry some notes with you.
    • Use non-verbal cues. You can show people that you are engaged in the conversation by maintaining eye contact and using facial expressions. If making eye contact is difficult for you, try faking eye contact by looking at another feature on the person's face, such as their nose or their chin.
    • Listen carefully. You want to show respect by listening to what your parents and teachers have to say. Feel free to ask questions if you don't understand their points.

Part 3
Thriving in the Classroom

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    Perform well in school. Even if you have good reasons for wanting to be in general education classes, you probably won't be allowed to be in them unless your grades are stable and your teachers can say that you aren't having any problems. Show up to school on time every day and be prepared to learn.
    • Keep your grades high. Aim to get As and Bs in your class or classes. If your grades are Cs or lower, the school may not want to put you in regular education because they're worried that you'll fail.
    • Participate in class activities. Don't sit grumpily at your desk if you're doing a subject you don't want to do. Participate in the activity - raise your hand, ask questions, and work with your classmates when allowed. This will show your teacher that you're able to work well in the classes that you have already.
    • Don't goof around! If you spend more time passing notes or making silly faces at your classmates than working, you're more likely to be viewed as a distraction to your classmates than as a student who should be in general education.
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    Create a study plan. Your parents or teachers might want you to show that you are ready to get out of special education. There are several things you can do to show that you are a successful student. Making a study plan is one way.[14]
    • You want to let them know that you are serious about improving your education. Show your parents and teachers that you can take responsibility for your learning.
    • Write down a schedule. Block out specific times of the day when you will study.
    • Try studying in small blocks of time. For example, work on your Biology homework for half an hour. Then take a break before you come back to your Spanish homework.
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    Read. Reading is one of the most effective ways to learn. No matter what you are reading, you will increase your knowledge base. Spend more time reading so that you will be better prepared to succeed in school.[15]
    • Read things that you enjoy. For example, if you are learning about the Civil War in school, ask your librarian to help you find a novel about that time period.
    • It's possible that learning might be hard for you. If that's the case, practice will help.
    • Devote some time each day to reading. This will help show your parents that you are serious about learning.
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    Work on coping skills to avoid outbursts. Some students may have trouble managing what they're feeling and get placed in special education for that reason. This doesn't mean you should hide your feelings and pretend that nothing's wrong when you're upset, but it's important to find ways to stop an outburst before it happens.
    • For example, if you're autistic, notice what things will overstimulate you. Do crowded rooms cause you to have a meltdown because of all the people around you? Does the sound of the school bell upset you and make you start crying? Learn what will trigger a meltdown or shutdown for you and find ways to avoid it or cope with it - for example, don't go to large school assemblies, or bring earplugs and your stim toy to school with you for when the bell rings.
    • If you have emotional problems, try to figure out what triggers them. When someone yells, for example, do you start yelling back? Watch for warning signs that you're getting angry or upset, and use coping strategies (such as focusing on something else, deep breathing, or meditating) to calm yourself down.
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    Work well with your classmates. A big part of doing well in any classroom is learning how to get along with other people. If you fight a lot with other students, or even just ignore them, you're not showing your teacher and parents that you're ready to be in a general classroom.
    • When you're given a group project or activity, try to work with everyone else and do your part. Talk to your fellow group mates and try to get everyone working together. This can be tough for some people, though, so don't worry if you have trouble with working with people;
    • Consider trying to help other students. Listen closely to your teachers' directions so you can follow them, and try to get your classmates to follow them, too. Be supportive and helpful to others. One of the best ways to show you know something is to teach it to someone else. However, be careful with how you do this. If someone asks a question, don't spring out of your chair and start blurting out the answer - that won't make your teacher happy with you!
    • Socialize outside of the classroom if you can. Talk to people at lunch and outside of your lessons. This is a great way to show you're a team player, but the benefits of making friends go beyond the classroom. Making friends will help you build a support system, too.
    • Don't react strongly to bullying. Unfortunately, there are mean people in school, both in and out of special education classes. Special education students are more likely to be picked on by bullies,[16] but how you react to someone bullying you may be thought about by the IEP team. If somebody calls you a name or takes away your things, hitting them is a bad way of dealing with bullying. Instead, walk away, even if you're upset, and tell the teacher that someone is bothering you. Don't worry about being a "tattletale" - it doesn't matter who you are, bullying is never okay, and telling someone about bullying isn't "tattling".
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    Find a support system. It can be really frustrating to be in a situation that you don't like. For example, you might be unhappy in your special education classroom. Find people that you can talk to about your feelings.[17]
    • Talk to the guidance counselor at your school. They might be able to help you deal with your feelings.
    • Have fun with your friends. When you are frustrated, you might feel better if you do something fun with people you enjoy.
    • Talk to a family member. If you're having trouble getting through to your parents, try asking an aunt or uncle to help you talk to them.


  • Everybody is different, and what works for some people may not work for others. Some students need special education, some don't.
  • Each state has different laws about education.
  • Talk to your parents and teachers about your needs.

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Categories: Surviving School | Disability Issues