Special Education in Institutional Settings


Special Education in Institutional Settings (SEIS) Mission: To provide high quality special education services within a statewide education program in an interagency context, that will support SEIS students to transition from the host agency settings to the community and facilitate student success in postsecondary and career pathways.

Every year, some Massachusetts children and youth reside in facilities operated by the Departments of Youth Services (DYS), Mental Health (DMH), Public Health (DPH) and the County Houses of Correction (CHC) (hereafter, "host agencies"). Some of these children and youth are eligible for special education services, and their educational needs are served within those host agencies. Although school districts are ultimately responsible for providing special education and related services to their students residing in these settings, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (hereafter, "Department") formed a specialized unit called Special Education in Institutional Settings (SEIS) to provide and help facilitate the provision of special education to such students. Since 1974, SEIS has been working alongside public school districts to provide certain special education services called for by eligible students' Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) developed in accordance with special education law.

SEIS plays an important and unique role in providing special educational services to students in institutional settings. School districts are responsible for developing students' IEPs and conducting special education evaluations and annual reviews, and they collaborate with SEIS and the host agency on how to provide services to students in these settings. However, SEIS is uniquely positioned, given its position within the Department and its relationships with other state agencies, to provide certain special education services, as resources permit, and consistent with applicable special education regulations. See 603 CMR 28.06(9). SEIS personnel also participate in all IEP Team meetings convened by districts for students residing in sites where SEIS operates.

The following state special education laws specifically address the role and responsibility of SEIS:

  • Mass. G.L. Chapter 71B, Section 12 (School departments; establishment; administration; staff; operation; expenditures; costs of education);
  • Mass. G.L. Chapter 71B, Section 11A (Incarcerated children with a disability; special education);
  • 603 CMR 28.06(9) (Massachusetts Special Education Regulations regarding Educational Services in Institutional Settings); and
  • 603 CMR 28.10 (Massachusetts Special Education Regulations regarding School District Responsibility).?

Last Updated: October 22, 2021

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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