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Special Education Law

How To Initiate Referrals For Special Education Assessments

The first step toward getting your child the special education services that he or she needs is to request assessments in writing. Make sure you send the request by certified mail, email or via fax, or take it to the school district’s special education office and obtain a written receipt. Keep a copy for your records.

Practice Pointer: Every communication to the school district should be in writing, and make a copy for your home records.

Let Our Experience Be Your Guide

Things to keep in mind as you prepare your written request for assessments of your child’s abilities and functionality are as follows:

The school district has 15 days from receiving your request to respond by sending you an assessment plan or providing you written notification of why they are refusing to evaluate your child for special education. The assessment plan should be in the primary language of the parent, be easily understood, explain the types of assessments that will be done on your child and contain a copy of the notice of parental rights and procedural safeguards.

Parents have at least 15 days to approve and sign the plan. We suggest that you sign the plan immediately so the evaluation moves quickly. You should sign the plan and write on it that you are requesting copies of the assessment reports be sent to you 2-3 days prior to the IEP meeting.

The school district has 60 days (including weekends) to complete the assessments and hold an IEP meeting. This does not include holidays or vacation in excess of five days. An exception exists if the parent or holder of educational rights “repeatedly” fails or refuses to make the child available for the assessment.

If your child already has an IEP, you can request an IEP meeting at any time. Your request should be in writing. The school district has 30 days from the date it receives your written request to hold an IEP.

Assessments should be conducted in all areas of the child’s known and/or suspected disability, including but not limited to:

1) Health and development
2) Vision and hearing
3) Motor abilities and self-help skills
4) Language function and academic performance
5) Orientation and mobility skills
6) Career and vocational abilities
7) Social and emotional development and behavior
8) Intellectual Ability

The evaluation must be conducted in the language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the student knows and can do academically and functionally, unless it is not feasible to provide or administer.

Practice Pointer: The term “functionally” is very important. Arguably, this refers to a student’s social-emotional behavior. This is especially important with students who demonstrate behavioral and emotional challenges. Make sure that the school district conducts a comprehensive evaluation which includes assessment in the areas of social, emotional and behavior.


Reassessments shall occur once per year, unless both the school district and parent agree otherwise. Reassessments are to occur at least every three years, unless the parent and the district agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.

Practice Pointer: Be careful when your child’s three-year evaluation is coming up. The school district may ask you to sign a document waiving the evaluation because, “it is clear that the student still qualifies for special education and an evaluation is therefore unnecessary.” REMEMBER, an evaluation is conducted also for the purposes of determining present levels of educational performance. This is very important because the present levels of performance determine the areas of need, which drive the goals and related services.

Let Our Special Education Attorneys Help You Through This Process

Our firm is dedicated to helping children. We can discuss your circumstances, explain your rights and help get your child’s education moving in the right direction.

We help families every day! Let us know what challenges you face.

Contact our special education law firm by phone at 714-602-1498 or toll-free at 866-781-7723 or complete our online form to request more information about our services.

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