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How Do I Find Out if My Child is Eligible for Special Education Services?

by | Sep 10, 2019 | Children, Education, Family, Learning Disabilities, Parenting, Students, Tutoring | 0 comments

How Do I Find Out if My Child is Eligible for Special Education Services?

I frequently speak to parents whose children have been struggling in school for years. Many times they suspect that this is due to learning or attention issues. Often they have brought this up to a teacher at school and have not received any clear direction on what to do or how to move forward. They feel frustrated watching their child continue to struggle and wonder if he or she may qualify for special education services. However, they do not know how to initiate this process or how to find out if their student has a learning issue such as dyslexia or dysgraphia or an attention issue like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How Do I Find Out if My Child is Eligible for Special Education Services

Step 1- Request an Evaluation

Not every child with learning and attention issues qualifies for special education services. In order to determine whether a child qualifies for special education services, the school has to do an evaluation. If you wish for your child to be evaluated, you can request an evaluation to determine whether they qualify for special education services. This request should be made in writing to your child’s teacher and copied to the school principal and special education administrator. A written request documents the referral and starts the timeline. If you do not receive a response within three business days of making a written request to the school, you can also copy your written request to the person who is in charge of special education services for the county. Within three business days (in Virginia), the school’s special education administrator must decide whether to evaluate the child, request a review by a school-based team, or deny the request.

Step 2- Set up a Meeting

If the special education administrator sends the referral to a school-based team, the team has ten business days to decide whether to evaluate. Some of the people who will attend the meeting will be the school principal or designee, the person who made the referral, your child’s teacher, at least one specialist like a special education teacher, and a person who is aware of alternative interventions and the process to access programs and services for children, such as the school psychologist. Regardless of whether the request to evaluate a student is made by the parent, a teacher, or a specialist, the school has to obtain your permission to evaluate your child.

A primary purpose of this team meeting is to determine if an evaluation is necessary. The first step of this process usually includes classroom observations and trial interventions in order to make a decision about whether to move forward with testing. It is important to understand that these interventions do not extend the ten-day timeline where a decision must be made. If classroom interventions are not successful, the team will usually decide to move forward with psycho-educational testing. If the school suspects that your child may have a learning issue, they must evaluate your child at no cost to you. However, the school does not have to evaluate your child just because you request it if they do not suspect learning or attention issues. If the school refuses to evaluate, you should receive this decision in writing along with an explanation of why the decision was made. This is called Prior Written Notice.

If the school refuses to evaluate your student and you disagree with their decision, you can:

  • Set up a meeting to discuss on the record why the decision was made and ask for a written document outlining your legal rights. For Virginia, this procedural safeguards document is also on the Virginia Department of Education site and available in many languages.
  • If you disagree with a decision you have three options: mediation, complaints, and due process. These options for students who attend Virginia Schools are outlined here.

Step 3- Evaluation

If the school decides to move forward with an evaluation, they can do so with your permission. You will be included as a member of the team that reviews the evaluation data and decides whether more information is needed. In Virginia, the evaluation has to be completed within 65 business days after the referral is received by the special education administrator. This timeline no longer applies if you fail to make your child available for the evaluation or if you move to a new district within the evaluation period.

The school will begin by determining what information they already have on your child. If you have had testing of your child done outside of school, you can present it at this time. The requirements about what must be included in the evaluation for special education in Virginia are outlined here. Your child may be tested in the following areas: health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, adaptive behavior, motor abilities, and communication. A written copy of the evaluation report must be made available to you at least two business days before the eligibility meeting. If you disagree with the evaluation, you can request an independent educational evaluation (IEE) conducted by a person who does not work for the school system. You can also request that the school pay for the IEE. However, the school may request a due process hearing to determine whether the school’s evaluation is appropriate or an independent evaluation is needed.

Step 4- Eligibility

Once the evaluation is complete, a team makes a decision about whether your child qualifies for special education services. This team should include: you, the special education administrator, your child’s general education teacher, a special education teacher, school personnel who conducted the assessments, and a person qualified to conduct diagnostic examinations of children (i.e the school psychologist). In order to qualify as a child with a disability, your student must be evaluated and determined to meet specific criteria for one or more of the following:

  • Autism
  • Deafness
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Developmental delay
  • Emotional disability
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment

The team also must determine that your child’s disability affects his or her educational performance. At this time, the team may also decide that your child qualifies for related services such as counseling, physical or occupational therapy, or speech and language pathology. If your child is found eligible for special education, the group sends a summary of those findings to an IEP team who will create an individualized education program.

Your child may be found not eligible if they fail to meet the eligibility criteria or if it is determined that their disability is not affecting their educational performance. A child who meets the eligibility criteria can be found not eligible if the reason that they met the eligibility criteria is because they have not had appropriate access to instruction in reading and math or because they use a language other than English. If your child is not found eligible for special education, this decision should be given through a prior written notice. Your child may still qualify for additional support through a 504 plan.

Step 5- Developing an IEP

In Virginia, if your child is found eligible, the IEP team must meet within 30 calendar days to develop an individualized education program. An IEP is a written document that outlines the ways the school plans to meet your child’s unique learning needs. An IEP needs to be written in order for your child to access special education and related services and is created by the IEP team. The IEP team will meet at least once a year to review and revise your child’s IEP, but you may request a meeting to review the IEP at any time. The school should notify you in advance of a meeting to create or revise your child’s IEP, and you have the right to invite any individual with knowledge or expertise about your child to attend with you. After the IEP is developed, your school should provide you with a copy of the IEP within ten days.

There are several places to look for information if you find that you need additional resources. Most states offer detailed information about their procedures on their department of education website. The Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA) is the national legislation that gives states and school systems guidance on how to educate students with disabilities. This site and The United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs can be excellent primary sources of additional information and clarification as you navigate the IEP process. Although the process of determining eligibility for special education services can be long, it is designed to be thorough. This helps to ensure that your child receives an education that is appropriate for them and meets their individual needs.

-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.
Owner | Parrish Learning Zone, LLC

 

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                                       ~Nina

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
2020-10-14T16:15:51+0000
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ellis
Laura Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
Beth Kent
Beth Kent
2017-11-08T18:59:11+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
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Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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