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Special Education

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Specialized Services logoAt HWDSB, we want to ensure that all of our students are learning. In consultation with families, our team of caring and dedicated professionals provides a continuum of special education supports and services for exceptional learners.

Where possible, we feel that all learning needs should be addressed in a student’s home school. Our opportunities include regular class placement and support, as well as special class placement and support. We believe that a student’s education is a responsibility shared by families, staff and students themselves. Regular, ongoing communication helps this team approach succeed.

For more information about special education programs, services and supports, please contact your school or call 905-527-5092 x 2625.

Our Special Education Plan

HWDSB’s Special Education Plan details how the resources allocated for special education are used to meet the needs of all exceptional students of the board. The Special Education Plan at HWDSB has been developed in accordance with Regulation 306 of the Education Act and the Ministry of Education policy document: Standards for School Boards’ Special Education Plans (2002). As per Regulation 464/07, the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) of the board was involved in the development of the plan.

I believe my child needs extra assistance, how do I get access to additional support?

If you feel your child requires additional support, speak with your child’s teacher to ensure they are aware of your child’s needs. After speaking with your child’s teacher, and you still have concerns, please connect with the principal to determine how the school can best meet your child’s needs. If you continue to have concerns about the support after speaking to your child’s teacher, school special education team and principal, please communicate with your school Superintendent.

Explore our resources below, including translations under Resources in each section.

An Identification, Placement, and Review Committees (IPRC) is a formal committee that meets and decides if a student should be identified as an exceptional pupil and, if so, the placement that will best meet the student’s needs. An IPRC is comprised of at least three school board personnel, one of whom must be a principal or supervisory officer of the board.

An IPRC will:

  • invite you and your child/youth (if the student is 16 years of age or older) to attend the IPRC meeting;
  • review relevant information about the student;
  • describe the student’s strengths and needs;
  • determine whether the student should be identified as exceptional;
  • identify the area(s) of the student’s exceptionality or exceptionalities, according to the categories and definitions of exceptionality provided by the Ministry of Education;
  • determine an appropriate placement for the student;
  • provide reasons for the placement if deciding for a placement in a special education class;
  • discuss proposals for special education programs and services if requested by you, or the student age 16 or over; and
  • review the identification and placement at least once in each school year, unless you give written notice dispensing with the review.

The Education Act defines an exceptional pupil as a pupil whose behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical and/or multiple exceptionalities are such that the student is considered to require a placement in a special education program. Students are identified according to these categories and definitions of exceptionalities provided by the Ministry of Education.


More information regarding this process is available in this Guide for Parents/Guardians to The Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC).

We have also produced a flyer called What is an IPRC? that is translated below.

Please also explore the following videos, regarding What is an IPRC? and What happens at IPRC meetings?

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written plan describing the appropriate special education program and/or special education services to be received by a student with special education needs.

The IEP is a working document. This individualized plan describes the goals that the school team has set for the child for the school year, as well as any special supports that are needed to help achieve those goals.

The IEP identifies the particular accommodations and/or modifications and/or alternative expectations that are needed to help the student achieve his or her learning expectations, given the student’s identified learning strengths and needs.

The IEP includes a transition plan for students who are fourteen years of age and older, unless the students are identified solely as gifted. The transition plan is designed to help students with special education needs make successful transitions from school to further education, work, and/or community living.

The IEP is not a description of everything that will be taught to the student, or all of the teaching strategies used in regular classroom instruction. It is a record of the specific knowledge and skills that will be assessed and evaluated for the purpose of reporting student achievement of the expectations listed in the IEP.

The development of an IEP is required for each student who has been identified as an exceptional pupil by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC). An IEP may also be prepared for a student who is receiving a special education program and/or services but who has not been identified as exceptional through the IPRC process.

Parents are consulted in the development of a student’s IEP. Ongoing communication with your child’s school and school team is encouraged, as the most effective IEPs are those that are developed in partnership with parents.


We have produced resources to help families answer the question, What is an IEP? and is translated below.

Please also explore the following video resource, What is an IEP?

Transition Planning for Students with Special Education Requirements

Transition planning for students with special education requirements begins with the student’s entry to school and continues throughout their school career until the student exits school. Preparing and guiding students successfully through transitions is a collaborative process between school teams within the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the student, parents or guardians, relevant community agencies and other professionals involved with the student.

To begin, there are a variety of different transitions that your child may experience. The transitions include:

  • entry to school
  • the transition between grades
  • the transition from elementary to secondary school
  • the transition from secondary school to post secondary
  • a return following a prolonged absence
  • the transition between activities or locations
  • the transition from regular class to self-contained placement.


We have developed resources to help families with Transition Planning for Students with Special Education Requirements. Explore this flyer, also translated below.

The video Transition Planning for Students with Special Education Requirements shares some general information about the different transitions your child may experience throughout their educational career and how HWDSB supports transitions.

HWDSB provides programs and services to support the learning outcomes for all students. We believe that all children can reach their full potential given sufficient time, support and instruction that meets their specific learning needs and strengths. Please see supports offered at HWDSB.

Autism & Neurodevelopmental Services

Autism & Neurodevelopmental Services (A&NDS) supports students with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and / or other complex neurodevelopmental conditions (i.e. Angelman Syndrome, Down Syndrome etc.).   The service uses evidence-based strategies, and works with parents/guardians, classroom educators, community partners and other services within HWDSB to help students use their strengths and talents to learn and to succeed.

The Autism & Neurodevelopmental Services team consists of: Speech-Language Pathologists, Communicative Disorders Assistants, Itinerant Teachers, Educational Assistants, a Child and Youth Care Practitioner, Board-Certified Behaviour Analysts and an Applied Behaviour Analysis consultant.

What If I have Questions?

Each elementary and secondary school have an assigned A&NDS team. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development your first conversation is with the classroom educator. With parent/guardian consent, the classroom educator can then request a consultation with their school A&NDS team.

Behaviour Analytic Services

Behaviour Analytic Services is an interdisciplinary team which works closely with school staff and directly with students who have significant difficulty with social, emotional, and behavioural regulation that interferes with academic learning. Our service team works collaboratively with school staff, parents/guardians, and community service providers to design evidence-based behavioural support strategies to help student learning.

The Behaviour Analytic Services team consists of Itinerant Teachers, Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBAs), Child & Youth Care Practitioners (CYCPs), Educational Assistants, Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECEs), and an Occupational Therapist.

What if I have Questions?

The Behaviour Analytic Services team support each elementary and secondary school. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development , please contact your child’s classroom educator or Principal. The classroom educator, with parent/guardian consent, may then consider a request for student support.

Psychological Services

The Psychological Services team helps school staff understand their students’ learning, behavioural, social and emotional needs. Through the process of consultation, targeted discussion, and analysis, our team provides recommendations to assist with classroom practices and program planning.  Our department members also complete psychoeducational assessments for students who meet referral criteria.  Our goal is to uncover and understand students’ strengths in order to improve their academic progress, self-advocacy skills and self-awareness.

The Psychological Services team consists of Psychologists, Psychological Associates and Psychoeducational Consultants, all of whom have extensive education and experience supporting students in schools.

What if I have Questions? 

There is a Psychological Services department member assigned to every elementary and secondary school at HWDSB.   If you have questions or concerns about your child’s academic skills or overall wellbeing, your first conversation is with their classroom educator.  The classroom educator may then consider next steps, including a possible request for consultation with our team.


Learning Disability Awareness Month infolet 2022

Speech and Language Services

The Speech and Language Services team works with students who are having difficulties with speech, language, and early literacy.  The service supports classroom educators in creating a classroom environment that will help students learn and be successful. Parents/Guardians are the most important member of their child’s learning team and will be offered strategies to help their child at home.

The Speech and Language Services team consists of Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) and Communicative Disorders Assistants (CDA).  Both the SLP and CDA are communication professionals that have extensive education and experience supporting students in schools.

What if I have Questions? 

Each elementary and secondary school have an assigned SLP.  If you have questions or concerns about your child’s speech, language and early literacy skills your first conversation is with the classroom educator.  The classroom educator with parent/guardian consent can then request a consultation with their school SLP.

Blind and Low Vision Itinerant Teacher Support

The Blind and Low Vision Itinerant teacher team provide resource and instructional support to students who may have been identified through the Identification Placement Review Committee (IPRC) process. Students who meet the criteria have a condition of partial or total impairment of sight or vision that even with correction affects their educational performance adversely.

Depending on the needs of the student, Itinerant Blind and Low Vision Teachers can teach students who are blind how to read and write in braille, and can assist students with low vision to learn strategies to maximize their remaining vision to access the curriculum in their home school. In addition, Itinerant Vision Teachers assist the classroom teachers to develop appropriate teaching strategies and accommodations for learners who are visually impaired.  The Itinerant Vision Teacher can make a referral to an Orientation and Mobility Specialist who can assist with safety and transition planning, in addition, the Itinerant Vision teacher can support the engagement with other community and education partners.

What if I have Questions?

If you should have questions about the need for support for your child with impaired vision please connect with your home school Learning Resource Teacher.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

HWDSB’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Team offers a continuum of educational supports for students who are deaf and hard of hearing.  The DHH Team includes: Itinerant Teachers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, an Educational Audiologist, an Educational Assistant, and a K-12 Specialized Services Learning Consultant. The DHH team ensures classroom amplification equipment (when required) is provided and supports classroom educators with the necessary classroom accommodations to support student learning. Direct support to students can be provided within the classroom, in small groups, or on an individual basis and focuses on academic or social/emotional areas of need, the use and care of assistive listening devices, language development, etc. The amount and type of support provided to each student is determined by their individual needs.

What if I have Questions?

Please visit HWDSB’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing website for more information.

For more information about special education programs, services and supports, please contact your school or call 905-527-5092.

HWDSB’s Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) is committed to working in partnership with the Board, to inform about quality educational programs and services for students with special education needs.

SEAC advocates for students with special education needs by:

  • Making recommendations to the Board on best practices that impact the establishment, development and delivery of special education programs and services
  • Assisting families with programs and services for their child
  • Participating in the board’s annual budget process as it relates to special education

The Committee is made up of representatives from local associations as well as Board Trustees

The purpose of SEAC is to review issues related to the education of students with special education needs and make recommendations on these issues to the Board.

The members bring their associations’ perspectives to the discussions while working together to ensure the best education for all children with special education needs within the Board.

SEAC meets once per month throughout the school year, usually on the last Wednesday of each month. The meetings start at 5:30 p.m. at the Education Centre (20 Education Court, Hamilton).

For more information, visit the Ministry of Education Ontario.

SEAC Meetings

Please see a list of our upcoming SEAC meeting dates and times.

SEAC Membership

Membership: SEAC Membership 2024

Updated on Monday, February 26, 2024.
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