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So your child now has a special education eligibility.
What happens next?
This is a question that many parents have after they have learned that their child has met criteria for a special education eligibility. It does not matter what category your child falls under (there are 13), the process is the same. To make things easier for parents, school districts will generally have a 2-part meeting to accommodate parents’ schedules. The first part of the meeting is the eligibility meeting where you will discuss if your child meets criteria for special education services and then the second part of the meeting is where you will discuss the development of your child’s IEP, or Individualized Education Plan. In the second part of the meeting, you will develop:
- goals and objectives for your child (learning goals that they will be working on during the school year),
- accommodations and/or modifications (things that will change how your child learns the material or how your child is taught the material), and
- placement (this is where your child will receive their educational programming).
Even though an IEP may be straightforward, many parents will still have questions after their child is found eligible for special education services and an IEP has been implemented.
How often will my child’s IEP be reviewed?
Your child’s IEP must be reviewed at least once a year. However, you have the right to call an IEP meeting whenever you feel you need to discuss your child’s educational programming.
What if I do not agree with my child’s evaluation?
The first thing to remember is that you have a right to disagree. If you do disagree with the school evaluation, you have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) by a qualified evaluator not employed by the school district. However, note that the school district will ask you why you disagree with the evaluation and can request a due process hearing to defend the appropriateness of their initial evaluation. Also, remember that parents are responsible for paying the cost of independent educational evaluation, unless the school district agrees to pay the cost or you can prove in a due process hearing that the school district’s initial evaluation was not appropriate.
What if I disagree with my child’s educational placement?
If you are in disagreement with your child’s program or services, you have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time. You should request an IEP meeting if you feel your child is not making sufficient progress, there has been a change in medication or medical history, or you have new information (such as an IEE) that can have an impact on your child’s educational services. If you are not able to solve your issues at the IEP meeting table, you have the right to take things a step further and request mediation or file a complaint.
Can the school district change anything in my child’s IEP without my notice?
No. School districts are required to give Prior Written Notice any time they make a change in your child’s IEP. This means they have to actually contact you in writing before any changes can be made. You can read more about Prior Written Notice here. But it is important to remember that if the school district has made repeated, documented attempts to get in contact with you about your child’s educational programming and you have not responded, they do have the authority to make changes to you child’s IEP that is in their best interest.
My child had severe behavior issues before he was found eligible for special education services. Does he still fall under the same disciplinary procedures?
According to IDEA, your child can receive protection for disciplinary issues if the school district had prior knowledge that your child might be deemed eligible for special education services. An example of this would be if you submitted written documentation to the school district stating your concerns that you think your child needs special education services. However, if you refused an evaluation or special education services for your child, the law does not apply. Yet, you should look over your State’s Procedural Safeguards to find out more information regarding the laws in your state.
How long is my child eligible for special education services?
Children are eligible for special education services from age 3 to age 21, or until after graduation, whichever is earlier. If you child continues to meet criteria for eligibility at the time of their reevaluation (every 3 years), they will continue to receive special education services for the next 3 years.
Remember to try to not get overwhelmed with the special education process. Take one step at a time and make sure you research as much information that you can. Here are two other posts that answer more questions about the special education process.