• It is the goal of the Charlotte County Exceptional Student Education Department to guarantee the right to a complete educational opportunity to every child by providing the special learner with programs designed to meet individual needs.

    With the passage of Public Law 94-142 (EHA) in 1975, as amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1990 and I.D.E.A. Amendments of 1997 and 2004, the federal government charged educators with the responsibility to provide for the educational development of disabled students in what is referred to as the "least restrictive environment."

    Charlotte County is demonstrating its commitment to implementation not only to the letter of the law, but also to the spirit of the law.

    Disabled children have the right to be participating members of our society and to reach their potential. Schools provide settings in which the learning environments can enhance the opportunity for all children to learn. Interaction between disabled and nondisabled students fosters the probability of increased participation in society.

    To facilitate this, a continuum of services has been provided ranging from a central, special school for exceptional students to the least restrictive environment provided within regular school settings. Regular school settings provide the disabled student opportunities to interact with nondisabled peers, with very favorable results. Observable improvement in socialization skills by disabled students through daily interaction with appropriate role models in the regular school population has been well documented. Also observed has been an increase in the level of sensitivity and understanding of others by nondisabled students who have participated in mainstreaming activities with disabled peers.