There is a two-part process for determining whether a student is eligible for special education and related services.


Based on the results of an FIE, a student must meet eligibility criteria (have an identified disability) AND as the result of the identified disability, the student requires specialized instruction provided through special education and related services to benefit from education.


To meet the first part for eligibility, a child between the ages of 3 through 21, except as noted, must meet the criteria for one or more of the 13 disability categories listed below:


  • auditory impairment (from birth)
  • deaf-blindness (from birth)
  • visual impairment (including blindness from birth)
  • noncategorical early childhood (ages three through five)
  • autism
  • emotional disturbance
  • intellectual disability
  • multiple disabilities
  • orthopedic impairment
  • other health impairment
  • specific learning disability
  • speech or language impairment
  • traumatic brain injury


Once the FIE is complete, it is reviewed at an ARD meeting. The ARDC then determines whether to add — or dismiss — an eligibility.
If the student is found eligible for special education, the ARD Committee is charged with programming so the student can receive a Free Appropriate Public Education.

Written by: Stephanie Villarreal