Special education is a broad term that refers to specially designed instruction that meets the unique needs of a child with a disability. Special education provides support to children who need assistance in a variety of developmental areas. Services can include instruction in the classroom, at home or in hospitals and can range from a specific program or class for the child to access to specialists and modifications in the educational program such as in curriculum or teaching methods. The type of service varies based on the child’s needs, as educational disabilities can range from mild to severe and can include mental, physical, behavioral and emotional disabilities.

IEPs & Public Schools

A child’s special education curriculum is part of his/her Individualized Education Program (IEP). In order for a child to qualify for services, he/she must have met at least one of 13 categories of special education proven to adversely affect his/her educational performance.

In public schools, special education services are free. The Federal law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requires that children be offered Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). One feature of an appropriate education is that it is provided in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) in which a student can progress with appropriate supports.

“A human being mints many coins from the same mold, and they are all identical.  But the holy one, blessed by God, strikes us all from the mold of the first human and each one of us is unique.”

Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5

Getting Started

If you suspect your child may need special education services, the first step is to get him/her evaluated. You can request this free evaluation through your school district. If the evaluation reveals that your child does not have one of the qualifying disabilities, he/she may still qualify for services under Section 504 of the American Disabilities Act of 1973.

Local Resources

For individual schools located in the South Florida region please see the School Options section and the resource list.

The Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System-South (FDLRS-South) provides diagnostic, instructional, and technology support services to district exceptional education programs and families of students with disabilities. FDLRS-South directly serves Miami-Dade and Monroe county school districts in the areas of Child Find, Parent Services, Human Resource Development (HRD), and Technology.

The Department of Special Education in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, also known as SPED Service Centers, are geographically located throughout the district to administer direct support services for schools within their corresponding areas.  In particular, SPED Centers oversee: psycho-educational diagnosis, consultation and evaluation; student placement in special education or gifted programs; speech/language pathology evaluation and related support services; social/emotional/behavioral assessments; truancy prevention, etc.  For more information regarding the schools served by each SPED Center or to obtain contact information for SPED Centers, please click on the links below:

Jewish Schools Please contact the Center for Jewish Education for the most up to date listing of Jewish schools with special education.

Quick Links

Free Appropriate Public Education

Individualized Education Program 


Section 504 of the American Disabilities Act of 1973

The Florida Department of Education

Americans Live With an Autism Spectrum Disorder
of Children Have Been Diagnosed with a Developmental Disability