Recently, many parents have been posting about having difficulty in getting their child assessed for an IEP. The law is very clear; when you put your request in writing, the district MUST assess your child, period.
However, the district can deny your request in a PWN for the following reasons:
- The district evaluated recently
- Your child has not met their developmental milestones
- Your child is performing at grade level
- Your child displays willful behavior
- The school is providing interventions
- Your child is an English language learner
Let me just say these reasons are easily argued and are delay tactics.
If school staff deny your evaluation request, that doesn’t mean they’re right. There are steps you can take to appeal the denial. They range from talking face to face with decision makers at the school, to requesting mediation, to filing a due process complaint.
This article will give you the legal grounds according to IDEA regarding how to request special education services for your child.
There is a law called “Child Find” however, in reality, the school district does not often identify or “find” children to evaluate through child find. The hard-cold fact is that you, as the parent, need to ask (in writing) for the school district to assess your child. The school district will then have the obligation to assess.
The Child Find Law states that the school district has the obligation to “identify, locate and evaluate” all children with disabilities who may be eligible for special education, including those who are attending private schools or are homeless or wards of the court. 34 Code of Federal Regulations [C.F.R.] Sec. 300.111; California Education Code (Cal. Ed. Code) Secs. 56300 & 301.
The best way to request the district to assess your child is to draft a letter to the principal at your local school or special education director. The letter should outline your areas of concern about your child’s suspected disability and request an “evaluation” or “assessment.” (See sample letter below.)
After you have emailed your request, it is a good idea that you also take two hard copies of the letter to your home school. Tell the receptionist you are submitting this letter to the principal and that you would like one of the letter’s dates stamped for your records. This will serve as evidence of the school’s receipt of the letter, so they cannot tell you they didn’t receive your email or letter.
After the district receives your request, the school district must give you an assessment plan within 15 days of their receipt of your written request for special education services. (If the request for assessment is made 10 days or less prior to the end of the regular year, the assessment plan must be developed within 10 days after school commences the following school year.)
After you receive the assessment plan and before you sign, make sure it reflects ALL areas in which you want your child assessed. This will avoid having the district conduct an incomplete and inaccurate assessment.
Once the district has received the signed assessment plan, they have 60 days (excluding days of school vacation in excess of five and days that school is not in session) to complete the assessment and develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). (Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56344(a).) If the assessment plan is signed and returned 30 days or less before the end of a school year, the district must hold a meeting to develop an IEP within 30 days after the beginning of the next school year. (Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56344(a).)
So, depending on when you return the assessment plan, the process will take at least 75 days to have your child assessed and an IEP is held to determine if your child qualifies for an IEP. If these timelines are not met, or the district delays, argues or refuses to assess your child, please make sure you contact a qualified advocate to get assistance as the district has violated California state law.
Here is a Sample Letter to request your child be assessed to be found eligible for an IEP:
Here’s to your advocacy success,
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