Special Education Referral Process

Intervention Services
The Special Education Referral Process can be a long process, but each step is crucial. Before a school refers a student to be evaluated for special education services, the school must provide intervention services for that child. Under the Continuum, a student should be referred to the Pupil Personnel Team. For a child with a learning difference the school should provide extra help. Some programs schools have are:
• Title I
• Project Read
• PCEN funds
• At-risk resource room

*Find out what programs your school offers.

For a child with a behavior problem, schools can provide:
• Behavior Intervention plans
• Counseling
• Alternative classroom

A student can be referred to be evaluated for special education services by:
• A parent
• Teacher
• Agency
• Other school staff (social worker, principal, etc.)

If the school makes a referral, they must describe what interventions they have made before the referral.

If a parent makes a referral, s/he should do so in writing and make sure to get a receipt.

Either way, the Special Education Referral Process has now begun

A student cannot be evaluated without a parent’s informed written consent. Once a referral has been made, parents have 15 days to sign and return (total of 30 days, 15 days for the referral and 15 days for the parent to sign and return the form)

After a referral, the parent will be invited in to meet with a social worker (part of the team) to get the parent’s informed consent to evaluate the child. Consent can only be given after parent’s rights are explained.

This is usually the time the social worker will do a social history (first step of evaluation).

If the parent consents, the evaluation process begins.

If the parent refuses consent, the school should continue to explore other interventions in general education, or they can go to an impartial hearing to override the parent. Schools should not harass parents who refuse consent.

After a parent consents, the school now has 60 calendar days to evaluate the student and set a date for the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. A student must be evaluated in all areas of suspected disability. At the very least students will receive the following evaluations for a special education referral:
· Social history
· Psycho-educational

If needed, students should receive additional evaluations including:
· Speech and language
· Occupation therapy
· Physical therapy
· Psychiatric
· Neuro-psychological
· Auditory processing
· Assistive technology

Parents can have their child assessed outside of school at their own cost and submit private evaluations. If the CSE fails to provide appropriate evaluations, it must pay for private evaluations.

Team IEP Meeting
Once the evaluations are done for the special education process, the parent meets with a “team” to review the evaluations and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the student. The team consists of:

· A special ed. Teacher or service provider
· A general ed teacher
· The parent (invited)
· A district representative
· An education evaluator
· A school psychologist
· A parent member (only at CSE team meetings)
. A parent also has the right to bring anyone they wish to the meeting with them for support or guidance
. The student, depending on their age, may also want to attend the meeting as well in order to give input

*Some members can perform multiple functions.

Members may be excused from meeting if both parent and CSE agree in writing, but they must submit written input before IEP meeting.

The parent does not have to consent to anything at this point. If the parent disagrees with the recommendation, they have the right to contest the IEP, using their Due Process Rights.

If it is contested, they may have another CSE meeting, go to Mediation or have an impartial hearing. In any event the student MUST remain in the current setting until an agreement is made. This is known as a “stay put order.”

Placement Recommendation

The CSE must offer an appropriate placement within the appropriate time frame (see time line). If there is no appropriate placement, the CSE must give parent a Nickerson (P-1) letter.

Placement should be in an appropriate functional grouping (age and functioning levels of students must be within 3 years). Parent has a right to get a copy of the class profile.

Parent has a right to visit placement. (Parent can request another placement from placement officer, but depends upon availability.) Parent has the right to reject an inappropriate placement. Again, this would create a “stay put” While the parent uses their Due Process Rights and there is another CSE meeting, mediation or hearing.

A parent must consent to placement in order for child to be placed in special education.
If a parent does not want to consent, the CSE can either:

· Close the case, or
· Request an impartial hearing (IH). The IH can override parent’s refusal to consent.

(Note: if the parent does not consent, the case may close only if this is an initial referral. If the student already receives special education services and the parent does not agree with the new recommended placement, the case will not close—instead the parent must ask for one of his/her due process options.)

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