How do I Access Services For My School-Aged Child?
If your child is enrolled in a district school:
The First Step: Prereferral Intervention
If you suspect that your child has an educational disability and needs special education services, the first step is to contact your building's principal. The principal will activate the school's pre-referral team to provide intervention within the regular education program. The team is comprised of your child’s teacher, the school principal, the school guidance counselor, and you, the student's parents. The team determines whether making adjustments to the regular education program can enhance your child's success in the classroom. What happens if the classroom approach to solving the problem is not successful? The school will then seek parental permission to evaluate the student to determine eligibility for a special education program. Please note that parents may also request an evaluation at any time during this process.
The Second Step: Evaluation
The comprehensive evaluation is conducted by a multi-disciplinary team. Each team is assembled based on the child's suspected disability. The team will include regular education teachers, a school psychologist, the district’s special education director, and you, the parent. As the student's parent, you will be asked for information concerning your child's physical, emotional, and academic growth. Additional team members may be added to the evaluation team when it is deemed necessary.
The evaluation may include educational assessment, ability testing, adaptive and social behavior assessment and perceptual evaluation. A single test or procedure may not be the sole factor in determining whether a student is disabled. Upon completion of the evaluation, recommendations will be made in a written report called the Evaluation Report.
Parents should note that students will be periodically reevaluated. These follow-up evaluations are conducted according to state regulations after an eligible student is assigned to special education programming. These follow-up reports are crucial to insure that each child's needs are being met through the provided special education services.
The Third Step: IEP's and placement decision.
Once a student's disability has been identified, an educational plan is designed and tailored to fit the specific needs of your child. This written plan is called an IEP or Individualized Education Program. The IEP, a direct result of the Evaluation Report, is developed by the parents and the school. It spells out the educational program for the student based on goals and objectives, as well as, specially-designed instruction that may be necessary to achieve success. Any related services needed to assist the student in benefiting from or gaining access to a special education program will be specified. A student's IEP is revised at least once a year. Any team member may call for a review or revision more frequently if the plan does not appear to be adequate.
A variety of educational placements are available to meet the special needs of each student in the least restrictive environment. Placement options include: itinerant , supplemental, or full-time level of special education services either within or outside of the regular school building or the school district within any of nine different support programs. These programs include Learning Support, Life Skills Support, Emotional Support, Deaf & Hearing Impaired Support, Blind& Visually Impaired Support, Speech & Language Support, Physical Support, Autistic Support, Multiple Disabilities Support.
Parents are encouraged to stay actively involved in the IEP process and have the right to disagree with the IEP recommendations. In addition, parents are informed, in writing, of their rights during each step of the process.