Special Education FAQs

In order for special education students in High School to receive graduation credit in Math does the teacher have to hold both an Education Specialist and a Single Subject Math credential?

A special education credentialed teacher is authorized to teach any subject to special education students in a departmentalized or self-contained setting, as long as the educator is appropriately authorized with the specialty area that addresses the student's primary disability category.  Therefore, a Math course taught in a departmentalized special education classroom may earn graduation credit for Math and still be taught by the holder of a Special Education teaching credential.

Does the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) credential authorize teaching American Sign Language (ASL)?

No, educators that hold DHH credentials may no longer serve in American Sign Language (ASL) assignments.  Any DHH credential holder who was serving in an assignment to teach American Sign Language (ASL) to general education students prior to July 1, 2010 may continue to do so, even if they move to a new employer.  It will be up to the employing agency to verify that the individual did in fact serve in a general education classroom as an ASL teacher prior to that date.  Please see Coded Correspondence 10-14 for additional information.

What is an alternate placement?

Alternate placement refers to a placement in a classroom that may not align with the student’s primary disability category.  A special education teacher must hold an appropriate authorization to provide necessary services as identified by a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).  While a student’s IEP may identify more than one area of need, Federal Statutes require that students with exceptional needs be placed in educational programs with the least restrictive environment. Therefore, an IEP team may determine that, based on assessments and IEP goals, an alternate placement may be appropriate.  Typically such placements align with Sec. 300.115 of the IDEA, covering the continuum of alternative placements.

In an alternative placement, if students with low incidence disability categories – defined as hearing impairments, vision impairments, and severe orthopedic impairments, or any combination thereof pursuant to Education Code §56026.5 -  also have a secondary disability category, and the IEP identifies that an alternate placement under that secondary disability is appropriate under IDEA/Least Restrictive Environment, then the student’s needs related to the secondary disability category impact the placement which would be with a teacher in the appropriate specialty area. Within CalSAAS, this can be identified in the determination process with the Alternate SPED Placement determination. However, the student’s needs related to the primary disability category will still need to be addressed by the appropriate related service providers in accordance with the IEP. Note, if the student is designated as having a primary disability area and has an IEP, but does not require any services or only requires related services, such as physical therapy, then it is possible that a 504 plan would be more appropriate. Refer to 34 CFR 300.8(a)(2)(i), or contact the California Department of Education for additional guidance.

What credential is required to teach Physical Education in a Special Education classroom?

A special education credentialed teacher is authorized to teach physical education to special education students in a self-contained setting, as long as the educator is appropriately authorized with the specialty area that addresses the student’s primary disability category. In CALPADS, Special Education assignments should be reported with Instructional Code 700. Courses reported as such will be checked in CalSAAS for alignment with the student’s primary disability area.

A departmentalized course in Adapted Physical Education (CALPADS State Course Code 9313) requires the educator hold an Adapted Physical Education Added Authorization, regardless of whether the educator holds an appropriate special education teaching credential authorizing the student’s primary disability category. Refer to credential leaflet CL-623 for information related to the Adapted Physical Education Added Authorization.

Can one educator serve in a Special Day Class (SDC) as the teacher of record and provide Resource Specialist Program (RSP) services during the same periods to the same group of students?

No, Education Code §56362(d) states that resource specialists shall not simultaneously be assigned to serve as the resource specialist and to teach regular classes.
Updated September 21, 2021