Applying to Middle Schools and High School with an IEP

The Department of Education uses a formula in middle school and high school admissions to make sure schools set aside seats for students with disabilities (SWD). It's important that you know if your student can get one of the saved seats.


Seats for Students with Disabilities (SWD)

Seats for General Education (GE) Students

Available for students who get special education instructional services for more than 20% of their weekly academic program through their current IEP.


Available for: 

  1. All students who receive general education programming 
  2. Students whose current IEP mandates special education instructional services for 20% or less of their weekly academic program are considered general education students (for admissions purposes only). 
  • The DOE calculates the student seat type by dividing the number of class periods per week the student spends receiving Special Education instructional services (not related services) by the total weekly number of class periods (excluding lunch). 
  • The seat type will be automatically noted on your student’s application, including on his/her "My Schools" account.
  • These seat groups apply only for admissions purposes. Students with IEPs are expected to receive the services on their IEP in their new schools. 


Will Count

Will Not Count

Special education instructional services:

  • Support Services (SETSS)

  • Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT)

  • Special Education Class (self-contained)


Special education related services:

  • Speech Therapy

  • Occupational Therapy (OT)

  • Counseling

  • Physical Therapy (PT)


Case Examples

If Maria and Will’s school has 35 periods per week (excluding lunch), you can calculate their percentage of special education instructional services by dividing the number of periods each student receives these services by 35, the total of non-lunch class periods.

Maria is in a special class setting for a combined 20 periods a week.

20 ÷ 35 = 57%

Maria’s application will count towards SWD seats because she is over the 20% rule.



Will receives SETSS once a day for 5 total periods a week.

5 ÷ 35 = 14%

Will’s application will not count towards a SWD seats because he is below the 20% rule. He would apply for a general education seat.



Consult with school staff to confirm which seat your student’s application will count for.

Learning and School, Navigating NYC schools and applications, Parenting and Advocacy
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