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Special Education

The Burlingame School District Special Education Services Department fosters inclusive educational climates where individuality and diversity are respected, honored and celebrated. We strive to provide a stimulating, safe and caring environment for the academic, social and emotional success of each student - where all teachers and staff design curricula that are universally accessible for all students. In alignment with the Burlingame School District mission, the Special Education Department guides students, staff, parents and the community to work cooperatively in an educational process that respects individual differences and provides opportunity for all.

The Burlingame School District provides support to students with identified disabilities. As professional educators, whether our role is in general education, special education, or administration, we believe it is our collective responsibility to support students who receive Special Education programs and services to meet the District standards and their individualized education plans (IEPs). Learn more about our special education programs and services below.


The Burlingame School District has a Special Education District Advisory Committee (SEDAC) that includes representatives from each school in the District.  The SEDAC is committed to celebrating our differences and raising awareness so we can help all children utilize their unique gifts and feel a part of an accepting and informed community. Learn more about the SEDAC.


Special Education Eligibility

If your child is currently enrolled in BSD and you have questions about Special Education programs or eligibility, or would like to request a review for assessment of your child, please contact your school principal. 

If you are new to the district and currently have an IEP, when registering, please provide a copy of your current IEP to assist us in placing your student.


Individualized Education Program

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written document that is developed for each public school child who is eligible for special education. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once a year.

Before an IEP can be written, the student must be found eligible for special education. By federal law, a multidisciplinary team must determine that the student (1) has a disability and (2) requires special education and related services to benefit from the general education program.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law, requires certain information to be included in the IEP but doesn't specify how the IEP should look. Because states and local school systems may include additional information, forms differ from state to state and may vary between school systems within a state. The Burlingame School District has a streamlined IEP document to ensure consistency across our schools.

A student may qualify for special education services as an individual with special needs in one of thirteen areas identified by the IDEA. These are:

  • Autism
  • Deaf
  • Deaf-Blind
  • Emotionally Disturbed
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech-Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Members

The members of the multidisciplinary team who write your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) include:

  • The parents or legal guardian, who have valuable insights and information about the student's strengths and needs and ideas for enhancing his/her education
  • General education teacher(s) who can share information about classroom expectations and your child's performance
  • A special education teacher who has training and experience in educating children with disabilities and in working with other educators to plan accommodations
  • An individual who can interpret the results of your child's evaluation and use results to help plan an appropriate instructional program
  • An administrative representative of the school system who knows about special education services and has the authority to commit resources
  • Individuals with knowledge or special expertise about the student or his/her disability that are invited by you and/or the school district
  • Representatives from transition services agencies, when such services are being discussed
  • The student, when appropriate, and whenever transition is discussed

504 Plan

A 504 Plan Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act helps a child with special health care needs to fully participate in school. Usually, a 504 Plan is used by a general education student who is not eligible for special education services. A 504 Plan lists accommodations related to the child’s disability and required by the child so that he or she may participate in the general classroom setting and educational programs. For example, a 504 Plan may include:

  • Plans to make a school wheelchair-accessible
  • Your child’s assistive technology needs during the school day
  • Permission for your child to type assignments instead of writing them by hand
  • Permission for your child to hand in assignments late due to illness or a hospital stay

The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. The 504 plans are developed by the principal and the student's parent(s) or guardian(s).



The San Mateo Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) makes available a range of educational programs for students with special needs. The IEP Team determines program placement for each student based on the principle of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). LRE means that a student is to participate in as much of the general education program as is appropriate in view of his/her educational needs.




Adaptive Physical Education (APE)

Adaptive PE is physical education instruction modified for student's particular needs and abilities.


Alternative Settings

Special education instruction may also occur in settings other than classrooms where specially designed instruction takes place, (e.g., home instruction, residential placement).



This is the specialist who supports the students and school staff with behavior plans, functional analysis, and creating/modifying behavioral structures for students.


General Education Program

A student with special needs can be placed in a general education classroom with necessary support services to ensure that his/her educational needs can be met in that setting.


Occupational Therapy

School-based occupational therapy is designed to enhance the student's ability to fully access and be successful in the learning environment. This might include working on handwriting or fine motor skills so the child can complete written assignments, helping the child organize himself or herself in the environment (including work space in and around the desk), working with the teacher to modify the classroom and/or adapt learning materials to facilitate successful participation.


Pre-School Intervention Program

Pre-school age children with special needs may be served in several ways:

  • Designated instruction and services only 
  • Specialized Academic Instruction
  • Specialized Academic Instruction with designated instruction and services


Related Services (e.g., nursing services or counseling services)

Support services (related services) are provided to special need students when they are required to help support his/her instructional program.


Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI)
A student may be eligible for a Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) class when the IEP Team determines that his/her educational needs cannot be satisfactorily met in general education classes for the majority of the student’s day even with the use of support services. Students in Specialized Academic Instruction classes will participate in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities with their general education peers to the maximum extent appropriate. Those students qualified for special education services will receive services under the direction of the instructional support team. The instructional support team will provide services in an IEP developed by an IEP Team. The responsibilities of the instructional support team include providing instruction, resource information, monitoring pupil progress on a periodic basis, reviewing/revising IEPs, coordinating services, and consulting with parents and staff.


Speech and Language
Services are offered at all schools. Speech and language specialists provide support for articulation, voice, fluency, and language disorders.


EC Section 56040 states: "Every individual with exceptional needs, who is eligible to receive special education instruction and related services under this part [Part 30] shall receive that instruction and those services at no cost to his or her parents or, as appropriate, to him or her." Special education transportation is defined in federal regulation [34 CFR Section 300.34(c)(16 )] as a related service. Transportation is required to be provided as a related service if it is required to assist a child with a disability benefit from special education. In addition, as required for any special education program, the service must be provided to meet the criteria for a free, appropriate public education as defined in federal regulation 34 CFR Section 300.17.



San Mateo County SELPA Resource Parent Council Handbook  (RPC)



Tip Sheets

Special Education Services

Fast Facts

Assessment Timelines

Tip Sheets

Assessment Process

Tip Sheets

Preparing for Your Child's IEP Meeting


BSD Special Education Staff

District Office Staff


Marla Silversmith

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services


Dr. Joelle Spencer

Director of Special Education



 Gigi Gonzalez

Administrative Assistant 



 Lori Sullivan  

Program Specialist    




Cyndi Wright