As a parent, you may request an evaluation of your child to determine his or her needs for special education and/or related services. The evaluation may include psychological and educational testing, a speech and language evaluation, occupational therapy assessment and a behavioral analysis. These are the steps you need to take:
- Meet with your child’s teacher to share your concerns and request an evaluation by the school’s child study team. Parents can also request independent professional evaluations.
- Submit your requests in writing for evaluations and services.Always date your requests andkeep a copy for your records.
- Keep careful records, including observations reported by your child’s teachers and any communications (notes, reports, letters, etc.) between home and school.
The results of the evaluation determine your child’s eligibility to receive a range of services under the applicable law. Following the evaluation, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. Examples of categories of services in IEPs include: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, and/or the provision of a classroom aide.
Parents do not determine whether their child is eligible under the law, however, parents are entitled to participate in the development of the IEP. Additionally, the findings of school’s evaluation team are not final. You have the right to appeal their conclusions and determination. The school is required to provide you with information about how to make an appeal.
What a Parent Can Do
Children with special needs are entitled rights to services in school under federal and state laws. Parents should always advocate for their cahild and must be proactive and take necessary steps to make sure their child receives appropriate services. The processcan be confusing and intimidating for parents. Here are some tips:
- Parents should request copies of their school district’s Section 504 plan. This is especially important when a school district refuses services.
- If the school district does not respond to your request, you can contact a U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Regional Office for assistance.
- If the school district refuses services under the IDEA or Section 504 or both, you may choose to challenge this decision through a due process hearing (a legal hearing in which you and your child have an advocate who can help express your views and concerns).
- It may also be necessary to retain your own attorney if you decide to appeal a school’s decision.