The first step in the IEP process is to have your child assessed for eligibility and services. To require that the school district does this in a timely manner under IDEA regulations you must send a written request for assessments. Make sure you send the request by certified mail, via fax, or take it to the school district’s special education office and obtain a written receipt. Keep a copy for your records.
Advocacy Note: Every communication to the school district should be in writing and make a copy for your home records.
Legal Time Lines
1. The school district has 15 days from receiving your request to send you an assessment plan. The assessment plan should be in the primary language of the parent, it should be easily understood, explain what types of assessments that will be done on your child and contain a copy of the notice of parental rights and procedural safeguards.
2. 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 1 week prior to the IEP meeting.
3. 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.
a. An exception exits if the parent (or holder of educational rights “repeatedly” fails or refuses to make the child available for the assessment.)
4. If your child already has an IEP, you can request an IEP meeting at any time. Your request needs to be in writing. The School district has 30 days from the date it receives your written request to hold an IEP.
5. Assessments should be conducted in all areas of the child’s known and/or suspected disability including:
1) health & development;
2) vision & hearing;
3) motor abilities & general ability & self-help skills;
4) language function & academic performance;
5) orientation & mobility skills;
6) career & vocational abilities;
7) social & emotional development and behavior.
The evaluation must be conducted in the language and form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically and functionally, unless it is not feasible to provide or administer.
Advocacy note: The term “functionally” is very important. Arguably, this refers to a child’s social-emotional behavior. This is especially important with children who demonstrate behavioral and emotional difficulties. Make sure that the school district conducts a comprehensive evaluation which includes social-emotional behavior.
a. Reassessments shall not occur more frequently than once of year unless both the school district and parent agree otherwise.
b. Reassessments are to occur at least every three years, unless the parent and the district agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary.
Advocacy Note: Be careful when a 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 child 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 drives the goals and objectives and support services.
Contact Valerie Aprahamian to receive assistance in understanding how to obtain accurate and complete evaluations and interpret the findings to develop the most appropriate IEP for your child. The assessment is the most important component in the foundation of creating goals and objectives which drive your child’s supports and services. If you are experiencing lack of progress in your child’s education, it most likely can be addressed through the assessment process.