To be eligible for special education, a child must have a disability and must need special education services and related services. If a child has a disability but does not need special education services, the child is not eligible for special education under IDEA but may be eligible for protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
A child may be referred for special education services through the public school, a private school or a parent/ guardian. Parents/Guardians must give consent for the evaluation and the school then has 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation. Eligibility is based on two factors: (1) Does your child have a disability and (2) Does the disability impact the education (academic, functional and/or developmental areas) of the student? Your child must meet the requirements in at least one of the eligibility categories in order for special education and related services to be offered.
Prior to evaluation for special education services, the school system must show what they have tried to do to help your child with learning difficulties. They should have documentation of the different strategies or methods they have used to help your child learn and data that shows your child is still not making acceptable progress toward learning grade level information. This is often called RTI (Response to Intervention) or the Student Achievement Pyramid of Intervention. RTI can be used when there are learning or behavior concerns. If the school does not have this information when an evaluation is requested, they will gather this information during the evaluation period.
A re-evaluation of a student receiving special education services occurs at least once every three years.
If you disagree with the results of an evaluation conducted by the public school, you may request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) paid for by the public school.