NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. NCD is comprised of a team of Presidential and Congressional appointees, an Executive Director appointed by the Chair, and a full-time professional staff.

The Arc of Pennsylvania promotes the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. Begin your search in the Advocacy Libraries and Law Libraries. You will find thousands of articles, cases, and resources about dozens of topics.

The primary purpose of the Right to Education Local Task Force is to make recommendations that assist in improving, strengthening, expanding and monitoring programs and services for school age children with special needs.  The Right to Education Local Task Force includes a parent and professional representative, an ARC representative, and a county mental health and mental retardation administrator. The Right to Education Local Task Force works with direct service providers, both public and private in planning for a continuum of programs and services. It serves as a vehicle for educating the community about the needs of students with disabilities. 

Least Restrictive Environment and Educational Placement

This Basic Education Circular updates the policy of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) on least restrictive environment and educational placement for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).  This policy is consistent with IDEA 2004, the Third Circuit decision in Oberti v. Board of Education (1992), and the Gaskin v. Pennsylvania Settlement Agreement (2005).  This Basic Education Circular is primarily directed at school-age students with disabilities.  Although components of this BEC apply as well to preschool-age children, PDE is developing specific guidance for preschool-age children.

Implementation of Law, Regulation, and Policy

A Basic Education Circular (BEC) provides the Department of Education's guidance on the implementation of law, regulation and policy. 

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania’s vision is that all Pennsylvanians with disabilities are empowered with opportunities and choices, are valued members of their communities fully included in all aspects of community life having access to quality education, employment opportunities, and housing options living free from abuse, neglect and discrimination. Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) is a statewide, non–profit corporation designated as the federally–mandated organization to advance and protect the civil rights of adults and children with disabilities. DRN works with people with disabilities and their families to ensure their rights to live in their communities with the services they need, to receive a full and inclusive education, to live free of discrimination, abuse and neglect, and to have control and self–determination over their services.

The Education Law Center is the only statewide legal advocacy group whose mission is to ensure that all of Pennsylvania’s children have access to quality public schools, including poor children, children of color, children with disabilities, children in the foster care system, English Language learners, and other vulnerable children.


SPEAC does not recommend or endorse the agencies or resources listed on the site. This is an informational site only. We encourage users to carefully review and evaluate all services and decide what is best to meet the needs of their families.

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35 Self Advocacy and Self Determination goals for your IEP. 

The Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council is a group made up of people with disabilities, family members, advocates, and state department representatives who work to create favorable conditions for people with developmental disabilities and their families in the Commonwealth. Created under a federal act and Governor's Executive Order, the Council is both a planning group and a funding body. The Developmental Disabilities Council is charged with periodically creating a state plan. It begins by learning about the present situation for people with developmental disabilities and their families in Pennsylvania. Next, the Council considers actions and strategies that will lead to more meaningful and participant lives for people with developmental disabilities in our state. These action ideas become the heart of Council's work plan over the coming years.

Parent Advocacy: What You Should Do . . . and Not Do by Leslie Seid Margolis, Esq. 

The ConsultLine is designed to assist parents and advocates of children with disabilities or children thought to be disabled. If you have any questions concerning your child's special education program or the laws relating to the provision of services in your child's IEP (Individualized Educational Program), the special education specialists at ConsultLine may be able to assist you. A direct line to a special education specialist who will. explain federal and state laws relating to special education, describe the options that are available to parents, inform parents of procedural safeguards, identify other agencies and support services, and describe available remedies and how parents can proceed. The ConsultLine is designed to be used by parents and parent/advocacy organizations. School district personnel are asked to use the Bureau of Special Education's main number: 717-783-6913.

Extended School Year Eligibility

This Basic Education Circular (BEC) represents the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) policy concerning timelines and other issues related to Extended School Year services for children with disabilities. It is based on the Pennsylvania Code (22 Pa. Code Chapters 14 (14.132 Extended School Year) and 22 Pa. Code 711 (§711.44 Extended School Year)), relevant federal regulations, and court decisions.

Advocating for Your Child. Good special education services are intensive and expensive. Resources are limited. If you have a child with special needs, you may wind up battling the school district for the services your child needs. To prevail, you need information, skills, and tools. Who can be an advocate? Anyone can advocate for another person. Special education advocates work to improve the lives of children with disabilities and their families. You are likely to meet different types of advocates.

Advocacy’s role is to promote the individual and collective rights of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.You and your family can benefit from the vast experiences and knowledge base of staff and volunteer advocates, addressing many issues from early Intervention to services for senior citizens.   Advocates are not attorneys and will not give legal  advice. A major ongoing advocacy goal focuses on offering resources that can  assist you or your family member to become a personal advocate.  The Arc Alliances Advocates evaluate each request to determine the level of assistance that may be required to address the issue.

ConsultLine is a toll-free information help line for parents and advocates of children with disabilities who have questions or concerns about the education of a school-aged child. ConsultLine specialists answer questions and provide information about special education, gifted education, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. ConsultLine specialists provide service to non-English speaking callers through the assistance of a confidential, third party interpreter. is the first and only video-based resource for parents. The site was developed by Special Education Attorney Jennifer Laviano and Special Education Advocate Julie Swanson. Never before have parents had the ability to learn about their rights in such a practical, user-friendly format. Members will have access to a continuously updated video library covering essential information in order to secure appropriate special education services for their child.Jen and Julie’s experience brings to members the perfect combination of perspectives as lawyer, advocate and parent.
Many websites can provide information or simple data about special education rights. Only can provide knowledge and understanding.


Special Education Resources on the Internet (SERI) is a collection of Internet accessible information resources of interest to those involved in the fields related to Special Education. This collection exists in order to make on-line Special Education resources more easily and readily available in one location. 

Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS). The City of Philadelphia has integrated its behavioral health care and intellectual disability services into one comprehensive system. DBHIDS components provide services through a network of agencies while collaborating with the Philadelphia School District, child welfare and judicial systems, and other stakeholders.

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, national organization, mostly volunteer run, that protects the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families.  COPAA is a community that works to increase the quality and quantity of advocate and attorney representation; and, through that vehicle, achieve better outcomes for the families we serve. We believe the key to accessing individualized, effective educational programs is assuring that students with disabilities and their parents are equal members of the educational team.

The COPAA community is open to anyone who works primarily from the family perspective, interested in connecting with like minded folks from across the country who are changing the lives of families of students with disabilities; using both the letter and intent of the law to support their sons and daughters to thrive and to achieve. We work at the local, state and federal levels in the courts and at the policy table to assure equity in education and quality, meaningful programs that give all students a chance to succeed.  We work to make school a place where every student has the support and quality instruction they need to learn and grow.