Hands and paperwork


The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has developed a voluntary State Correctional Education Self-Assessment (SCES) to assist States in self-assessing their systems for providing special education and related services to students with disabilities in correctional facilities. This self-assessment addresses some—but not all—the requirements of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as they apply to States, State educational agencies (SEAs), and public agencies (including local educational agencies [LEAs] and responsible noneducational public agencies) in educating these students.

The self-assessment is organized into three main areas:

  • The first area highlights the requirements for interagency agreements between SEAs and other public agencies, including responsible noneducational public agencies, involved in providing special education and related services to students with disabilities in correctional facilities. The primary focus of section I is for SEAs to ensure that educational and noneducational agencies within States have in place clear methods to communicate across agencies and programs to ensure that youth who are incarcerated in juvenile justice facilities receive timely special education and related services as required under IDEA.
  • The second area provides a tool to evaluate and track a State’s progress in addressing the responsibilities of States and SEAs to students with disabilities in correctional facilities.
    • The first focus of section II is for SEAs to ensure that appropriate educational services are implemented in a timely manner by responsible agencies.
    • The second focus is on data and assessments reporting processes that meet IDEA requirements outlined in the Dear Colleague Letter.
    • The third focus is on educational services: Do qualified personnel in partnership with parents or the legal guardians of students with disabilities provide such services?
    • The fourth focus is on the rights of students with disabilities and their parents or legal guardian(s). Youth with disabilities who are incarcerated in correctional facilities have the same rights as students in traditional public education settings, such as regular public districts.
  • The third area offers a tool to evaluate and track how IDEA requirements are being addressed by public agencies in your State, including LEAs, correctional facilities that operate as LEAs, and noneducational public agencies that are responsible for providing education to youth with disabilities in correctional facilities.
    • The focus of section III is to communicate the importance of collaboration between LEAs and noneducational public agencies to ensure that appropriate records are transferred in a timely manner, with the appropriate personnel at each level being designated to track students and their records.
    • SEAs are required to have processes in place to ensure that appropriate special education and related services are implemented based on State and Federal standards.
    • SEAs are required to ensure that at all levels of transition, doable entry and reentry policies and procedures are in place to allow the smooth transition of students to and from correctional facilities.

The SCES may be accessed at

In collaboration with the National Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Neglected and Delinquent Children and Youth (NDTAC), OSEP conducted a webinar to present an overview of the key points of the SCES. Links to the archived webinar and associated resources may be found at



In addition to resources included throughout the self-assessment, the following resources may be beneficial for States to consult as they address areas of need that emerge after completing the SCES.

  • This resource is a collaboration between the director of OSEP and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and is intended to highlight the unique needs of youth with disabilities who are in correctional facilities. Written as a letter to a colleague, the letter covers IDEA, Part B, requirements for service providers and how protections apply to all students with disabilities, including those in correctional facilities.

  • This brief discusses three key components within IDEA that are necessary for the provision of FAPE to youth with disabilities who are detained and incarcerated in juvenile justice secure care facilities: (1) Child Find (identification, location, and evaluation of eligible children and youth with disabilities); (2) FAPE in the LRE (education with peers who are not disabled to the maximum extent appropriate); and (3) IEPs and related protections, including parental participation.

Section I: Methods of Ensuring Services

The following topics are covered in section I: the interagency agreement, noneducational public agency guidelines, and ensuring FAPE.

  • This March 2000 news bulletin from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) was produced through the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants Program and is part of its best practices series. The bulletin describes key elements of effective information sharing so that a comprehensive approach for support services can be established. Interagency sharing allows for a multidisciplinary approach to better support youth with disabilities in correctional facilities and their families.

  • This practice guide from the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC) examines the principle that interagency communication and collaboration are vital to foster better outcomes for youth involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

Section II: SEA Responsibilities to Students With Disabilities in Correctional Facilities

The following topics are covered in section II: SEA responsibility for general supervision, personnel qualifications, Child Find, procedural safeguards, and due process.

Section III: Responsibilities of Public Agencies (Including LEAs), Correctional Facilities, and Noneducational Public Agencies

The following topics are covered in section III: the transmittal of records, IEPs, least restrictive environment, secondary transition, discipline procedures, and reentry considerations.

  • This report from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice focuses on five guiding principles: (1) creating a safe and healthy climate that prioritizes high-quality education; (2) necessary funding to support all youth within correctional facilities, including English learners and youth with disabilities; (3) retaining qualified staff and personnel; (4) the importance of rigorous curricula; and (5) understanding processes and procedures across the child-serving systems.

  • NDTAC created this one-page factsheet for easy understanding of IDEA and the basic protections afforded to youth under the law, with a particular focus on youth in correctional facilities.

  • This information brief describes the characteristics of and the issues faced by youth involved with the juvenile justice system, including those with disabilities. It provides a framework for youth service professionals to help youth avoid or transition out of the juvenile justice system, promotes cross-collaboration, and highlights promising practices currently being implemented in the United States.

  • Produced by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, this report can help professionals working with youth in correctional facilities better support their needs and reduce their risk of recidivism. The report specifically focuses on how youth have different needs and support requirements, compared with adults in correctional facilities, and offers four recommendations to improve practice and outcomes.

  • Although focused on adults who have been incarcerated, this document, published by the U.S. Department of Justice, outlines a plan to help practitioners begin thinking practically about reentry from Day 1 of incarceration. Outlined in the Roadmap are principles that focus on improving the reentry outcomes for those within correctional facilities.

  • This webpage describes FERPA, which protects students’ rights with respect to school records. It highlights frequently asked questions, provides a FERPA guide for parents and schools, and includes guidance to remain in compliance with the law.