Resources for Special Education in the SFUSD
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) views special education as “instruction specifically designed to address the educational and related developmental needs of children with disabilities.” Sometimes these special needs are met in a general education setting and can be accommodated in any SFUSD school. Some students’ needs will best be met in a Special Day Class, which is a separate special education classroom offered at certain schools throughout San Francisco.
If a child requires special education services, an Individual Education Program (IEP) is developed by a team that includes parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, and special education providers. The IEP is a plan that specifies what the school will do to address the child’s unique needs, including modifying instruction, offering special services such as speech or physical therapy, and providing other support systems or staff. There are very specific rules about who can qualify for an IEP, so some students’ needs will be met with a 504 plan instead.
To apply for SFUSD enrollment, submit the standard SFUSD enrollment application at the Educational Placement Center (EPC), mark the box to indicate that your child has an IEP, and attach a copy of your child’s most recent IEP. Meet with a Special Education Placement Counselor to ensure that your child’s school assignment will meet your child’s needs. The SFUSD Enrollment Guide has more information about special education services and which schools offer which Special Day Classes.
For children under the age of 5, contact Early Childhood Special Education Services.
There are organizations in San Francisco that offer support and guidance to families whose children have special needs.
Support for Families of Children with Disabilities. A nonprofit organization that offers families information, education, and support, for any disability or health care need.
Parents Education Network (PEN). A parent coalition that educates parents, students, and educators about learning and attention differences, by offering lectures, workshops, and support groups.
Student Advisors for Education (SAFE). PEN’s student community that educates and mentors students 13 to 19 years old regarding the challenges and strengths of learning and attention differences.
SFUSD Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC). A committee made up mostly of parents who advise the Board of Education and advocate for effective special education programs.
Here are some additional online resources that have been helpful to families navigating the IEP process and special education, including information about parents’ and students’ rights:
Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy. Information for parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.
Center for Parent Information and Resources. Information and resources for parents, compiled by the Office of Special Education Programs of the United States Department of Education.
Special Education Resources. Information and resources regarding special education, in California and nationally, compiled by the California Department of Education.