Military & Department of Defense (DOD) Special Education
Military Education l Autism l Reading l Transition l Caselaw
Resources l Reports l Publications l Teachers & Administrators
Children whose parents are active in any of the branches of the military often have
a rather non-traditional educational experience. These children transfer schools often and sometimes attend school overseas. Although military children may not be educated in the U.S., they are still entitled to a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
US DOE, OSEP guidance (July 2013) to school districts to ensure that military children receive required special education and related services. (1) Highly mobile children should have timely and expedited evaluations and eligibility determinations. (2) Comparable services include services during the summer, such as Extended School Year (ESY) services.
September 2012 GAO Report: Better Oversight Needed to Provide Services for Children with Special Needs. GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense (1) ensure the military branches medically and educationally screen all school-age children before relocation overseas; (2) direct OSN to establish benchmarks and performance goals for the EFM program; and (3) direct OSN to develop and implement a process for ensuring the branches' compliance with EFM program requirements. DOD generally agreed with the recommendations.
Pete and Pam Wright with Commandant of USMC General and Mrs. James F. Amos at his Passage of Command ceremony at the Marine Barracks, Washington DC (Oct 22, 2010).
Pete works extensively with military families and Generals Amos and Conway spoke to Pete about it after the ceremony. Both General Conway and General Amos mentioned "families with special needs children" in their speeches. The Marines are fortunate in this regard.
Support Improves for Families with Special Needs from the Pentagon’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy.
On November 16-18, 2009, the department sponsored its first joint exceptional family member support conference in Jacksonville, FL. The DoD/Joint Conference: Improving the Quality of Life for Military Families with Special Needs featured Pete Wright. Each attendee received a copy of the Special Ed Law book and our From Emotions to Advocacy book. Pete Wright autographed the books after he completed his training session on Special Education Law and Advocacy.
The Military Child and Special Education by Jeremy Hilton, published in the Aug/Sep Exceptional Parent Magazine. "Since aging out of early childhood intervention and starting preschool at age 3, our daughter, Kate (now 6), has been in four different elementary schools..." Jeremy recommends parent resources like STOMP (Specialized Training of Military Parents), Military Homefront, and Wrightslaw.com.
Wrightslaw has been a subscriber to Exceptional Parent Magazine for many years. Each issue of this trusted resource for the special needs community contains a United States Military Section. You can subscribe here.
To learn how you can support military service men and women and their families, please see Be A Hero...To A Hero: Support Our Troops.
of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)
The purpose of special education is to enable students to successfully develop to their fullest potential by providing a free appropriate public education in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as implemented by DoD Instruction 1342.12, "Provision of Early Intervention and Special Education Services to Eligible DoD Dependents."
Free Special Education Products for Military-Connected Schools. Sponsored by DoDEA's Educational Partnership Branch, includes 16 special education training modules and is available for any school supporting military families.
The Military Child: Law + Resources prepared by Peter W. D. Wright, Esq. Comparable IEPs - United States Code, Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register
Changing Schools and IEPs - 1 week, 1 month, 90 Days? When a child transfers schools, when must the new school provide services in the IEP? Find out what IDEA 2004 says about providing comparable services for children who transfer.
Want to Find a Special Education Program That Meets Your Child’s Needs Before You Move? Go Shopping by Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Schuchs-Gopaul, USAF. A real issue that confronts military families every two to four years. If you are facing a move, learn strategies to help you find a special education program that meets your child’s needs -- before you move.
12 Things Every JAG (and Military Parent) Should Know. Legal issues facing military families with special needs by Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Schuchs-Gopaul, USAF.
Informing and Empowering Military Families. Focus on issues and concerns for military or EFMP families spotlighted on the Master List of Reports, Articles, and Regulations developed for the DoD Military Family Readiness Council.
DoDEA's Playgrounds Renovated to Meet Needs of Special Needs Students. Within the next month the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) will finalize renovations to some of its school playgrounds to better serve special needs students.(DoDEA Press Room, December 16, 2009
New! Special Care Organizational Record (SCOR) for Children with Special Health Care Needs announced by the Office of Military and Community Family Policy tailored to the unique needs of a special needs family member. The SCORs are tools for caregivers, providing central repositories for recording and tracking information about their family member’s ongoing support and health needs.
Special Needs Parent Toolkit
Special Needs Parent Toolkit (free download)
Military Home Front EFMP Tool Box
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New! TRICARE for Kids Provision in HR 4310, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, signed by President on January 2, 2013.
Military Family Input on Sec 735 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. Report from the Military Special Needs Network.
Educational Directory for Children with Special Needs provides useful, practical information about the services for children with ASD and the information assignment personnel and families need to make informed decisions when considering assignments of military members with children who have ASD.
Health & Special Education Services for Military Children with Autism. Based on the most recent prevalence data that 1 in 88 children (from Autism Speaks) have an autism spectrum disorder, as many as 12,000 children in military families (active duty, reserve and guard) may have autism. These families are affected substantially by the financial and emotional costs of raising a child with autism.
All active duty and retired military families can receive a FREE copy of ARI's book, "Recovering Autistic Children". To order your FREE copy of ARI's book, "Recovering Autistic Children" click here.
Act Today for Military Families. Military families with autism face even more extraordinary circumstances. With your help and support, we can make a difference in the life of a military child and bring hope for a better tomorrow! Apply for a grant.
Life Journey through Autism: A Guide for Military Families. The guide (free download) includes information about services, resources, & support available to military families.
United Through Reading® Military Program helps ease the stress of separation for military families by having deployed parents read children’s books aloud via DVD for their child to watch at home. Find out how it works. Watch the video.
DOD Schools: Additional Reporting Could Improve Accountability for Academic Achievement of Students with Dyslexia. GAO Study GAO-08-70 to determine how DOD supports students with dyslexia and how it used $3.2 million in funds designated to support them. (December 2007) Report Highlights.
Comparable Services in the IEP. Moving from state-to-state? What are comparable services? This article explains comparable services when a child with an IEP transfer to a different state.(DoD Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs September 2010 eNewsletter)
Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. Military children enrolled in special programs, like gifted and talent, can automatically be placed in similar programs in a new school when the family transfers. As of June 28, 2010, 35 states have now adopted the compact developed in 2008 by Department of Defense and the Council of State Government officials.
Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission recognizes the unique situation of military children who, through no fault of their own, move many times during their school years. Find the Interstate Compact and Commissioner in your state.
Military Students on the Move. This "Toolkit for Military Parents" is one of three Toolkits prepared by the Department of Defense to help parents, installation commanders, and school leaders make the education transition for military children as smooth as possible.
Special Education information is found on p.15 featuring resources including the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids.
Download Toolkit (The is a large PDF file, so please allow time for the toolkit to load.)
Tips for Parents: Relocating and Special Education Records from Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS).
Watch the video about the SOAR program from the Military Impacted Schools Association.
SOAR - Student Online Achievement Resources. This new web site will allow children from military families to compare states' academic standards and take a free online test to identify the gaps in their understanding as they move to a new state with different testing and curriculum.
School Quest. Designed for military families, SchoolQuest is organized so that you can access information that the MCEC has gathered to help you make decisions on future schools for your children. SchoolQuest also offers an Online Library that provides resources for families in transition.
G. v. Fort Bragg Dependent Schools (4th Cir. 2003). ABA/Lovaas case; rights of children who attend Dept of Defense schools; FAPE & educational benefit; methodology; reimbursement for home-based Lovaas program; procedural safeguards and notice by parents; compensatory education for failure to provide FAPE; prevailing party status & attorneys fees (pdf)
Military Special Needs Network. When military families have a dependent with special needs in the mix, it can be overwhelming. Get help here.
Free, Online tutoring Service. - The Defense Department has launched a free online tutoring service for servicemembers and their families.The site, http://www.tutor.com/military, offers round-the-clock professional tutors who can assist with homework, studying, test preparation, resume writing and more. (January 2010)
Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
STOMP is a Parent Training and Information Center for military families providing support, advice, and training to military parents whose children have special challenges. Here you can interact with parents who have already experienced much of what you are going through. They are happy to help.
Military Community & Family Policy (MC&FP) MC&FP coordinates the Office of Community Support for Families with Special Needs (OSN) and ensures that military families with special needs receive direct services; assignment coordination; oversight of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP); and family support.
Children of Military Service Members Resource Guide. A new online resource to assist families and health care providers address the mental and emotional health needs of military children. From the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury (2011).
Our Military Kids – Their mission is straightforward. Support military kids through enriching activities. Thousands of military children from Guard, Reserve and wounded families have received funds for tutoring, ballet, music, martial arts and so much more thanks to the compassion and business savvy of two women (not from military families) who wanted to make a difference in the lives of the nation’s military kids. Mission accomplished!
National Military Family Association
Military K-12 Partners
Special Education Professional Development - Resources to Empower School. Through a contract with Cambium Learning Group, the Partnership Program has developed 16 Special Education training modules available to school districts that serve children from military families.
Military Youth on the Move
Family Matters Blog provides resources and support to military families, as well as to encourage a dialogue on topics ranging from deployments and separations to the challenges of everyday life, military schoolchildren, and education.
National Council on Disability (NCD) report on the issues facing military families impacted by a child or a spouse with a disability (exceptional family members). The Report considers Marine Corps’ programs and people, however the findings are relevant to all four services and their programs as well as the Congress, Tricare, and state and local governments. (November 2011)
Linking Early Intervention Processes: Family Centered and Functional in Natural Environments. Educational and Developmental Intervention Services (EDIS) IFSP Process Handbook.This military document makes it easier for service providers to understand how to help families identify their needs and priorities, as well as actually making the IFSP meaningful to the family and the child. (pdf format)
and Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Best Practices Guide
June 21, 2012: Military Families Affected by Disabilities: Act Today! Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel to conduct Senate Hearing on Thursday, June 21, 1430. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room SD-10.
March 2011 GAO Report to Congress: Education of Military Dependent Students. GAO recommends determination of requirement for school districts to report data on the academic outcomes of military dependent students and the need for any additional legislative authority. The issues: frequent moves, transitions, stress, fear, inadequate evaluations, inadequate IEPs, inadequate services upon move to a new jurisdiction.“... 58 percent [school districts] reported meeting the needs of military dependent students with disabilities was moderately, very, or extremely challenging”
NDAA 2011 considers oversight of DoD's ability to ensure proper support of our military families impacted by a child or spouse’s chronic medical condition or disability (families within the service’s Exceptional Family Member Programs (EFMP)). Senate Report No. 111-201, page 137 specified that DoD was to conduct a thorough investigation and provide a report to Congress. Full Report (PDF)
January 2011 National Defense Authorization Act signed by the President. Congress removed the voucher program discussed in the following article, but did include authorization for a study to look at the issues surrounding military kids and special education. Sec 586 of HR 6523, NDAA
DoDEA Announces 2011 NAEP Results. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) fourth and eighth grade students continued their strong performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2011 Reading and Mathematics Assessments. (November 10, 2011)
Bill Calls for Vouchers for Disabled Military Children. The proposed $5 million voucher program, for military families who have children with special education needs, is part of the defense-spending bill and would start in the 2011-12 school year and provide up to $7,500 per year for school costs. (Education Week, 10/29/10)
Congressional Briefing: Overcoming Barriers Faced by Military Children by Jessica Butler, Esq. Report on the Congressional Briefing (January 2010) that focused on the barriers faced by military parents of children with disabilities, including special education.
The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act mandates a standard program to support military families with special needs, establishes a Defense Department Office of Community Support for Military Families with Special Needs, and requires a comprehensive policy on support to families.
Military Helps Families Find Care for Special Needs Kids. Military families who move from post to post have in the past struggled to get consistent support for their special needs children. Recently the Army and Marine Corps began providing caseworkers and legal aid to help parents negotiate for more resources. (Washington Post, 12/28/09) pdf formatAASA Toolkit: Supporting the Military Child. Guidance from the American Association of School Administrators for school leaders on meeting the unique educational needs of children whose parents are deployed or in transition. Includes Resources for Supporting the Military Child, Q & A for Meeting the Military Child's Needs, Videos, and Tips for School Leaders.
Last revised: 11/11/13