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A Parents’ Guide to Special Education: High School

A secondary special education teacher has the unique job of guiding students out of the school system and into adult life. You also have the special opportunity to explain to parents exactly what to expect in their child’s high school years and then beyond to adulthood.

We’ve put together a guide you can share with parents to answer commonly asked questions. Some are perfect for students entering high school, while others deal with the transition to college and/or adult life. And, for more resources that you can use for your practice, browse our collection of CESE materials.


Entering Secondary Special Education: What is a high school special education classroom like?

Your child’s special education experience at our schools will be as inclusive as possible. Some WELS schools have a self-contained classroom, where a special education teacher handles the full education of special education students. But, for the most part, they will have their high school experience right alongside other students. Depending on your child’s unique needs and interventions outlined in their IEP, they may have some one-on-one time outside of the classroom with a specialist.

To find out about your school’s specific high school special education curriculum, just ask your child’s teacher, principal, or high school special education teacher.

What happens to special education students after high school?

What happens to special education students after high school is different per student, but in general, they will either continue on to college, enter the workforce, or begin adult life in another way.

Entering the Workplace after High School Special Education

If your child is headed to work after their high school education and they have an applicable disability, they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This federal law prohibits any company with more than 15 employees from discriminating against disabled workers, including those with ADHD. Companies with fewer than 15 employees might also be under this rule, but it falls under state and local law, not federal.

Is ADHD a disability?

Yes, ADHD is considered a legal disability and earns your child specific rights as they enter the workplace. ADA applies to this condition.

College after Secondary Special Education

College for special education students is different from high school education. This is because higher education schools do not fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which guarantees public education for students with disabilities. In college, there are no IEPs, but there may be 504s. While colleges do not fall under IDEA, they do fall under ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. To put it simply: colleges still accommodate students eligible under ADA, but any 504 will probably look different at the collegiate level.

To ensure your child receives the appropriate accommodations in college, search the school’s website for instructions on how to register as a student with disabilities. Simply writing about it in a college application won’t do. If you need help finding the registration form, ask your college recruiter for help or simply call the school’s front desk.


Contact CESE for More Information

If you are in need of specific information on an area of exceptionality, intervention, or simply have questions, don’t hesitate to contact CESE today.


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