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 most appropriate for your child.
There are four (4) basic steps in the special education process:
- Referral for Assessment
- Development and Implementation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
- IEP Review
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 assessment. Within fifteen (15) 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 a 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) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days, of the receipt of your signed Assessment Plan to complete the assessment and hold an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting.
Step 2: Assessment
An assessment involves gathering information about your child to determine whether your child has a disability and, if he or she is eligible, the nature and extent of special education services that your child may need. Assessments may include individual testing, observation of the child at school, interviews with the child and school personnel who work with the child, and a review of school records, reports and work samples.
Guidelines for Assessment
When your child is assessed, the following guidelines will be followed:
Your child will be assessed only after your consent to the Assessment Plan.
Your child will be assessed in all areas related to his or her suspected disability.
- The Assessment will be administered in your child's primary language or a qualified interpreter will be provided.
- The assessment must include a variety of appropriate tests to measure your child's strengths and needs. The persons administering these tests must be qualified to do so.
- The assessment will be adapted for students with impaired sensory, physical or speaking skills.
- A multidisciplinary team, including at least one teacher or other specialist with knowledge in the area of your child's suspected disability, will assess your child.
- Testing and assessment materials and procedures must not be racially, culturally or sexually discriminatory.
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 education 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 present 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;
- and, when appropriate, the person(s) who assessed your child or someone familiar with those assessment procedures.
What is an IEP?
The IEP is the written plan that describes a child's abilities and needs, and the placement and services designed to meet the child's unique needs. Your child must have an IEP before he or she receives special education services. Your child's IEP must be implemented as soon as possible after the IEP meeting. In addition, your child's IEP must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised once a year or more often upon request. If your child is found to be eligible for special education services, the IEP will contain:
- annual goals and short-term objectives focusing on your child's current level of performance;
- the services that your child will receive;
- when services will begin, how often they will be provided, and for how long;
- the instructional program(s) where these services will be delivered;
- the amount of time your child will spend in general education. If your child is not educated completely in general education, it should state why;
- how the school will measure your child's progress.
Children with disabilities should attend the school they would ordinarily attend if they were not in special education. This requirement may be waived when a student's IEP requires it and states why.
You will receive a copy of the IEP at the IEP meeting. If you do not attend the IEP meeting, a copy will be mailed to you. You have the right to agree or disagree with any part of the IEP. The school is required to get your consent to the IEP before your child receives special education services. Upon your request, you must be given a copy of the IEP in your primary language, whenever possible.
Will I Receive Notice of the IEP Meeting?
The school must provide you with notice of the IEP meeting within a reasonable time prior to the meeting. This notice will include: the date, time, and place of the meeting; the reason for the meeting; who will be attending the meeting; and a statement of the right of participants to electronically record the meeting. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may call the school to reschedule.
When Must an IEP Meeting be Held?
An IEP meeting must be held:
- once a year to review your child's progress and placement and to make any needed changes to the IEP;
- every three years to review the results of a mandatory comprehensive reevaluation of your child's progress;
- after your child has received a formal assessment or reassessment;
- if you or a teacher feel that your child demonstrates significant educational growth or a lack of anticipated progress;
- when you or a teacher request a meeting to develop, review, or revise the IEP;
- to develop a transition plan, beginning at age sixteen (16) or younger, if appropriate; and/or
- to determine whether a student's misconduct was a manifestation of his or her disability before expelling or suspending the student from school for more than ten (10) school days.
If your child is already enrolled in a special education program and you request an IEP meeting, you must do so in writing. Once your request is received, the meeting must be held within thirty (30) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days.
What are Transition Services?
Transition services are a set of coordinated activities to assist a student's movement from school to post-school activities. These services are designed to help your child adjust to life after he or she is no longer eligible for school-related services. The law requires that transition services be provided to all students with disabilities, beginning at fourteen (14) years of age or younger, if appropriate. When appropriate, the IEP team will plan and oversee the implementation of these transition services.
The law also requires that coordinated activities for transition include instruction, community experiences, and the development of employment and other post-school living skills. If services in any of the previously listed areas are not needed by your child, your child's IEP must state so and why. The coordinated activities for transition must be based on your child's individual needs and take into account his or her preferences and interests. If appropriate, the coordinated activities may also include the acquisition of daily living skills and/or functional vocational evaluation.
If transition services are going to be discussed at an IEP meeting, the notice of the IEP meeting will include the following information:
- indication that the meeting will discuss transition services;
- indication that the student will be invited; and
- identification of any agency representatives that the school invited who may be able to provide and/or pay for transition services.
If any agency representatives cannot attend the meeting, the District will attempt to obtain their input through other means.
Step 4: IEP Review
If your child is receiving special education services, his or her IEP will be reviewed in an IEP meeting at least once a year to determine how well it is meeting his or her needs. In addition, every three years, your child will be reassessed and his or her IEP reviewed as part of an overall comprehensive reevaluation of your child's progress.
If there are concerns that your child's educational needs are not being met, either you or school personnel may request a reassessment or an IEP meeting to review the IEP at any time during the year. You may request an IEP meeting to review the IEP at any time during the year. You may request an IEP meeting by sending a written request to the school. Once your request is received, the meeting must be held within thirty (30) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5) days. You may request a reassessment by sending a written request to the school or completing a Request for Special Education Assessment which can be obtained at any District school. The school must get your permission before it reassesses your child.