Commonly Asked Questions (Click on the questions to be redirected to the answer)
- How do I know if my child is eligible for special education services?
- What happens at the beginning of the process that determines whether my child needs special education or related services?
- What does it mean to receive special education services?
- What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
- What is the difference between an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a Section 504 Plan?
- How do I know when or if my child no longer requires special education services?
How the process works
- Parents, school personnel, students or others may make a request for evaluation. If you request an evaluation to determine whether your child has a disability and needs special education, the school district must complete a full and individual evaluation. If it refuses to conduct the evaluation, it must give you appropriate notice, and let you know your rights. You must give permission in writing for an initial (first-time) evaluation, and for any tests that are completed as part of a re-evaluation (at least once every three years).
- A team of qualified professionals and you will review the results of the evaluation, and determine if your child is eligible for special education services.
- If your child is not eligible, you will be appropriately notified and the process stops. However, you have a right to disagree with the results of the evaluation or the eligibility decision.
- If you and the school district agree that your child is eligible for services, you and the school staff will plan your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP), at an IEP team meeting. You are an equal member of this team.
- The IEP lists any special services your child needs, including goals your child is expected to achieve in one year, and objectives or benchmarks to note progress. The team determines what services are in the IEP as well as the location of those services and modifications. At times, the IEP and placement decisions will take place at one meeting. At other times, placement may be made at a separate meeting (usually called a placement meeting). Placement for your child must be in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) appropriate to your child's needs. He or she will be placed in the regular classroom to receive services unless the IEP team determines that, even with special additional aids and services, the child cannot be successful there. You are part of any group that decides what services your child will receive and where they will be provided.
- If you disagree with the IEP and/or the proposed placement, you should first try to work out an agreement with your child's IEP team. If you still disagree, you can use your due process rights – dispute resolution practices.
- If you agree with the IEP and placement, your child will receive the services that are written into the IEP. You will receive reports on your child's progress at least as often as parents are given reports on their children who do not have disabilities. You can request that the IEP team meet if reports show that changes need to be made in the IEP.
- The IEP team meets at least once per year to discuss progress and write any new goals or services into the IEP. As a parent, you can agree or disagree with the proposed changes. If you disagree, you should do so in writing.
- If you disagree with any changes in the IEP, your child will continue to receive the services listed in the previous IEP until you and school staff reach agreement. You should discuss your concerns with the other members of the IEP team. If you continue to disagree with the IEP, there are several things you can do, including asking for additional testing or an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE), or resolving the disagreement using due process (see below).
- Your child will continue to receive special education services if the team agrees that the services are needed. A re-evaluation is completed at least once every three years to see if your child continues to be eligible for special education services, and what services he or she needs.