Referral & Identification

The special education process

The special education process determines whether or not your child is eligible for special education services and if so, what special education services are the most appropriate for your child.

There are four basic steps in the special education process:

  1. Referral for Assessment
  2. Assessment
  3. Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting to determine eligibility and if eligible to develop and implement a special education program
  4. IEP Review
assessment for spcial education process flow

Step 1: Referral for Assessment

In many cases, parents or guardians refer their child for assessment for special education services. Teachers, other school personnel, and community members may also refer a child for an assessment.

Within fifteen (15) calendar days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days, of the receipt of a referral for assessment you will receive a written response from the District. If the District determines that an assessment of your child is not appropriate, you will receive written notice of this decision. If the District determines that an assessment is appropriate, you will receive an Assessment Plan.

An Assessment Plan describes the types and purposes of the assessments which may be used to determine your child’s eligibility for special education services. Before your child can be assessed, you must consent to the assessment by signing the Assessment Plan. You have at least fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the Assessment Plan to consent to and sign it. The school has sixty (60) calendar days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days, from the receipt of your signed Assessment Plan to complete the assessment and hold an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting.

If you do not consent to the Assessment Plan, school personnel may take steps to protect your child if they believe that he or she is being denied appropriate special education services. School personnel may request to meet with you informally or initiate a due process hearing to override your refusal to consent.

Step 2: Assessment

An assessment involves gathering information about your child to determine whether your child has a disability, if he or she is eligible, and the nature and extent of special education services that your child may need. Assessments may include individual testing, observations of your child at school, interviews with the child and school personnel who work with the child, and review of school records, reports and work samples.

Step 3: Development and implementation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP)

After your child has been assessed, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting will be held. The IEP meeting must be held at a time and place convenient for both you and the school’s representatives. At this meeting, the IEP team will discuss the assessment results and determine whether your child is eligible for special services. If your child is eligible, then an IEP will also be developed during the meeting.

The following people are members of the IEP team

  • You, as the child’s parent or guardian, and/or your representative
  • A school administrator or qualified representative who is knowledgeable about program options appropriate for your child.
  • Your child’s teacher. If a student does not presently have a teacher, a teacher with the most recent and complete knowledge of the student and who has observed the student’s educational performance will participate as an IEP team member. If a teacher with the most recent and complete knowledge of the student is not available, the teacher on the IEP team will be a special education teacher qualified to teach a student of his or her age
  • Other persons, such as your child, whom you or the school wish to invite
  • The person(s) who assessed your child or someone familiar with those assessment procedures

You are an important member of the IEP team. If you cannot attend the IEP meeting, the school must ensure your participation using other methods, such as conferencing by telephone. The school must ensure that you understand what is going on at the meeting. For example, the school must provide you with an interpreter if you have a hearing disability or your primary language is not English.