Special Education Regulations

Special Education laws, regulations, and policy establish the requirements for educating students with disabilities.

Announcement about IDEA Eligibility

IDEA eligibility has been extended to age 22. Read the full text of the announcement.

The goal of Special Education is to improve the academic, social and post school success of students with disabilities ages 3 to 22. Students eligible for special education require specially designed instruction and related services as needed to meet their unique needs.

Reference Guide to the Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities

In 2018, the RI Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities were revised to comply with the 2016 amendments to the RI Administrative Procedures Act. In this process members of the community requested that the RI Department of Education develop a companion document that maintained the relevant sections of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Regulations and the revised RI Regulation Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities. The Reference Guide to the Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities is a result of the request from the community for a merged document of the federal and state regulations. The final Reference Guide is now available.

Laws, Regulations, and Policy


Congress enacted IDEA based on its finding that “disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.”

Federal Regulations for Implementing IDEA

The U.S. Department of Education issues federal regulations for implementing IDEA and to govern the Assistance to States for Education of Children with Disabilities Program and the Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities Program. These rules are published in Part 300 of the 34th Code of Federal Regulations (34 CFR).

RIDE Procedures for Disproportionality

On December 16, 2016 the Secretary of Education amended the IDEA Part B which requires States to revise their State Policies and Procedures (PPs) for Significant Disproportionality. As issued in the Federal register:

The Secretary amends the regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governing the Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities program and the Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities program. With the goal of promoting equity under IDEA, the regulations will establish a standard methodology States must use to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring in the State and in its local educational agencies (LEAs); clarify that States must address significant disproportionality in the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions, using the same statutory remedies required to address significant disproportionality in the identification and placement of children with disabilities; clarify requirements for the review and revision of policies, practices, and procedures when significant disproportionality is found; and require that LEAs identify and address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality as part of comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (comprehensive CEIS) and allow these services for children from age 3 through grade 12, with and without disabilities. 81 FR 92376

As such, RIDE has reviewed and revised the state PPs based on the recommendations from a stakeholder workgroup in order to set risk ratio thresholds, minimum cell size and the number of years of data to be used in determining disproportionality.

View the work group recommendations: Disproportionality Revisions and Resources 2017 [PDF].




Annual State Application Under Part B of the IDEA for Federal FY2024

Each year the Rhode Island Department of Education applies for a grant award under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A draft of the proposed application and accompanying use of funds spreadsheet are posted for a 60 day public review period and 30 day public comment period. The Rhode Island application and spreadsheet are available for public review and comment March 21, 2024 through May 20, 2024 at 4:00 pm. Comments may be submitted through email to Karen Lovett at Karen.Lovett@ride.ri.gov or mailed to:

IDEA Part B Application-Public Comment
Attention: Karen Lovett
Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903

General questions or requests for alternative formats of the application may be directed to Karen Lovett via email or by calling 401-222-8333.

State Regulations

Rhode Island establishes state regulations for implementing IDEA: Rhode Island Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities - effective 1/9/2019 to current.

These rules are designed to ensure a free, appropriate public education for children with disabilities, protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents, assist agencies to provide for the education of children with disabilities, and to assess and ensure the effectiveness of these efforts.

The RIDE Office of Student, Community and Academic Supports oversees these state regulations.

See additional standards for meeting Rhode Island Regulations: Rhode Island Guidelines for Implementing Child Outreach Screening (Revised August 2019).

Commissioner Deborah A. Gist approved an Employment First policy for the Rhode Island Department of Education. Employment First is a commitment to students with intellectual/developmental disabilities to support their transition from public education into meaningful, community integrated training and employment opportunities at competitive wages upon exiting public education.

In 2014, the State of Rhode Island entered into a Consent Decree with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act for operating day activity centers and sheltered workshops for individuals with intellectual /developmental disabilities. As part of this settlement, the State of Rhode Island and the involved agencies that support youth and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities agreed to implement a state Employment First policy.

In approving this policy, RIDE is endorsing the belief Rhode Island students with intellectual /developmental disabilities are capable of working in integrated work settings for competitive wages and RIDE will work in partnership with the adult service system to achieve this outcome.

Know your rights!

This notice is the state’s model form for explaining parents’ rights under special education law and regulations. Federal and state regulations require schools to provide you with such a notice containing a full explanation of your rights in special education.

Rhode Island State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP)

The Rhode Island SSIP, additional information, and supporting resources have moved to RIDE's State Performance Plan page.