An overview for parents
The chart below offers an overview of the special education process. It is not designed to show all steps or the specific details. It shows what happens from the time a child is referred for evaluation and is identified as having a disability, through the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An explanation of each numbered area follows the chart.
How the process works
1. Parents and/or the Child Study Team or other school personnel may make a request for evaluation. If you (as a parent) think that your child is struggling academically or behaviorally in school, please refer them to the Child Study Team in your child’s building, by way of the classroom teacher or building principal. Through the Child Study process, the teacher and team (including parent) meet to discuss current performance in the classroom, review data collected, and discuss interventions that could be put into place to assist your child. Once the child is going through the Child Study process, then a referral, backed by data and information gathered by the teacher and team, can be made to the Special Education department. If you (as a parent within the Junior High or Senior High School) request an evaluation to determine whether your child has a disability and needs special education, the school district must complete a full multidisciplinary evaluation. If the district refuses to conduct the evaluation, it must give you appropriate notice and let you know your rights. **The parent must give permission in writing for an initial (first time) evaluation and for any tests that are completed as part of a reevaluation report.
2. A complete multidisciplinary evaluation is conducted by the school psychologist and/or speech and language clinician. The evaluation process contains assessments tailored to the child’s area of need. However, the evaluation will contain tests of ability, achievement, speech and language (if necessary), motor skills, behavior, observational data by parents and teachers, progress monitoring data, standardized assessment results, grades, attendance and discipline reports, medical and developmental histories, and success of interventions used in the classroom. Once the team of qualified professionals completes the evaluation report, you will receive the results of the evaluation. This evaluation will discuss whether your child is eligible for special education services. You have the opportunity to review these results with the team of professionals within the district.
3. If your child is not eligible, you will be appropriately notified and the process stops. However, you have a right to disagree with the results of the evaluation or the eligibility decision, which needs to be put into writing.
4. If you and the school district agree that your child is eligible for services, you and the school staff will plan your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), at an IEP team meeting. You are an equal member of this team and your participation at the meeting is essential for the start of special education services for your child.
5. The IEP lists any special services your child needs, including present educational and functional levels, goals your child is expected to achieve in one year, and objectives or benchmarks to note progress. The team determines what specially designed instruction and related services are in the IEP, as well as the location of those services and modifications. Placement for your child must be in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) appropriate to your child’s needs.
6. If you disagree with the IEP and/or the proposed placement, you should first try to work out an agreement with your child’s IEP team. If you still disagree, you can use your due process rights.
7. If you agree with the IEP and placement, your child will receive the services that are written into the IEP, upon parent signature on the IEP and NOREP. You will receive reports on your child’s progress along with the quarterly report cards. You can request that the IEP team meet at any time, if reports show that changes need to be made in the IEP.
8. The IEP team meets at least once per year to discuss progress and write any new goals or services into the IEP. As a parent, you can agree or disagree with the proposed changes. If you disagree, you should do so in writing.
9. If you disagree with any changes in the IEP, your child will continue to receive the services listed in the previous IEP until you and the IEP team has reached an agreement. You should discuss your concerns with the other members of the IEP team.
10. Your child will continue to receive special education services if the team agrees that the services are needed. A reevaluation is completed at least once every three years, to see if your child continues to be eligible for special education services and to decide what services he or she needs. It is important to note that your child can be exited from the special education program if they no longer demonstrate the need for services within the classroom.
Flowchart - PACER Center (2007). PACER Center, Minneapolis, MN, (952)838-9000. www.pacer.org.