Requesting an Initial Evaluation for Special Education Eligibility
Special Education & Accommodations
If you or someone you know thinks your child may have a disability and needs special education or related services to be involved in and make progress in school, then an evaluation for special education eligibility may be appropriate.
Can my child be evaluated for special education services?
As a parent or guardian, you have the right to request that your child’s school conduct an evaluation to determine if your child is eligible to receive special education services at any time.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires local public school districts to "identify, locate, and evaluate every child who may have a disability requiring special education services.” This is called “Child Find.” When there is suspicion that a child has a disability, parents and educators have a responsibility and a right to request a full, individual, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary evaluation.
How do I ask for an evaluation for special education services?
To request an evaluation to determine if your child is eligible for special education, you should submit a written request to your child’s school. If your child is pre-school age and not enrolled in school yet, direct the letter to the School District’s Special Education Director. Otherwise, address the letter to your school’s principal.
What timelines must the school follow after a special education evaluation request?
The written request will trigger specific timelines that the school must follow. One way to remember these timelines is 15 – 45 – 30. (See this flowchart on the Special Education Process that illustrates this timeline.)
- The school has 15 school days to provide parents with an opportunity to provide written consent for the evaluation. After receiving the written request or if the school refuses to conduct the evaluation, the school must provide parents a notice of their procedural safeguards that explains their rights under the law.
- The school district has 45 school days to conduct the evaluation after receiving a signed consent from a parent or guardian.
- The school has 30 calendar days after completing the evaluation to hold an ARD meeting to review the results of the evaluation determine eligibility and develop an IEP if a child is found eligible for services.
Note: School days do not include any day that a student is not in school, such as:
- Student Holidays
- Staff Development Days
- Spring Break
- Winter Break
- Summer Break
Also Note: If a student is absent more than three days after the consent for evaluation is signed, the school district may extend the 45 school day timeline by the number of absences.
What deadlines apply if you ask for an evaluation request at the end of a school year?
It is important for parents to request an evaluation as soon as they suspect that a student may have a disability and require special education services, because if an evaluation is requested late in a school year, you may have to wait until the beginning of the next school year for the evaluation to be completed. However, if the evaluation is almost completed before the school year ends, the school district may be required to complete the evaluation and provide you with the report during the summer break. If a parent provides the school with written consent for the evaluation less than 45 schools days, but at least 35 school days before the last instructional day of the school year, the evaluation must be completed and the report provided to the parent by June 30th of that school year. Then, not later than the 15th school day of the following school year, the ARD meeting to review the results of the evaluation and determine eligibility must be conducted.
What do you say in a request for evaluation?
In the letter you should briefly describe your concerns and why you feel your child may need special education services. Remember, this can include social and behavioral concerns as well as academic issues. Also, when writing the letter you should also state that any general education interventions (such as Responses to Intervention) that the school would like to try should not slow down the timelines established under IDEA.
See Disability Rights Texas's Sample Letter from Parent/Guardian to School Requesting Assessment.
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