Public Schools

Students with special needs are guaranteed by federal law to a free and appropriate public education regardless of handicap or disability, and state law requires that such students are placed in the “least restrictive environment". For detailed information about Boston’s special education services, please call (617) 635-8599 or visit their website at

In Boston, the special education services include:

  • Specially designed instruction to meet the needs of students with disabilities
  • Access to the general curriculum and intervention programs designed to provide appropriate opportunities for instruction in the general education setting
  • Continuum of service, including but not limited to inclusion, resource and self-contained settings
  • Related services, including but not limited to speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy
  • Specialized instruction for students with hearing, visual and physical disabilities
  • Boston also has three special schools for students with special needs, including the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Carter Development Center for students with significant cognitive delays, and the McKinley Schools for students with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities.
  • At school, student support teams help students with special needs and typically consist of the following:
    • Nurses address student health issues that may affect children’s performance in class.
    • Psychologists help identify students with special needs and make recommendations to improve their academic performance.
    • Guidance counselors help students with behavioral issues as well as college and career counseling.
    • Student support coordinators plan the student support team meetings as well as ensure the students receive the appropriate services.

Source: Guide to the Boston Public Schools 2009-10

If you are having trouble with the public school system, the Disability Law Center (617-723-8455) and the Volunteer Lawyers Project (617-423-0648) offer free and low cost legal services to low-income families.

Please click on the following link to learn more about how to obtain public special education services in Boston.