The Special Education Process

  • 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:

    1. Referral for Assessment
    2. Assessment to Determine Eligibility
    3. Development and Implementation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), if eligible
    4. 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 an 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 as a result of the disability, your child requires specialized academic instruction.  Assessments may include individual testing, observation of the child at school, interviews with the parent(s), child and school personnel who work with the child, and 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 you consent to the Assessment Plan.
    • Your child will be assessed in all areas related of his/her suspected disability.
    • The assessment will be administered in your child's primary language or an 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 specialists 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 if  your child is eligible for special education services. If your child is eligible, an IEP will also be developed during the meeting.

    IEP Team Members

    • 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.

    An IEP is the written plan that describes a child's abilities and needs, and the goals, accommodations/modifications, 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 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; and
    • how the school will measure your child's progress.

    You will receive a copy of the IEP at or shortly after 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.

    The school must provide you with written 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 at 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.

    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 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). You may request a reassessment by sending a written request to the school. The school must get your permission before it reassesses your child.