Do you have a child that you think might have dyslexia or another learning disability, and your school is refusing to test them for it? Are you concerned that your child may have autism or pervasive developmental disorder and your school district states that they will not test them? If your school district is refusing to conduct a comprehensive assessment on your child to determine special education eligibility, this article is for you. This article will discuss 5 things that you can do as a parent, if your school district is refusing to evaluate your child.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states under the Child Find section that: school districts are required to locate, identify and evaluate all children that may have a disability. Also someone transitioning from Early Intervention (birth-three years old), must be evaluated to determine if they are eligible for special education services. School districts are not allowed to depend on screening to determine eligibility for special education.
Here are 5 things you can do if your child is refused special education eligibility testing:
1. Gather your evidence together about their disability, and there need for special education services. Perhaps reports of your child’s disability, copies of state and district wide testing to show academic need, any documentation of emotional and behavioral difficulty, any evidence of social problems, and also any diagnosis that has been given by their Dr.
2. Take your child to get an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) with a qualified professional! You will have to pay for the evaluation, but you may be able to be reimbursed later. To find a good evaluator, ask other parents, or contact a local disability organization. Before you make the appointment make sure that the evaluator is not the present employee of any school district, is willing to do comprehensive evaluations in several areas, is willing to write a comprehensive report not only about testing but about what services your child needs. If the evaluator is a present employee of a school district, or waffles on specifically stating what services are needed, find a different evaluator! Getting copies of testing without specific recommendations is like paying for half an evaluation!
3. When the report is received (and your child has been found to have a disability and educational need) contact your school district in writing and send them a copy of the report. Ask that an eligibility conference be held again, since new information has now been received. School districts must consider any independent evaluations brought by parents.
4. Before the eligibility conference, try and find an experienced parent or an advocate to go with you to the meeting. The eligibility conference is the most important conference in special education. With the new information your child hopefully will be found eligible for special education (a child must have two things to be eligible for special education: a disability and educational needs). If the school district uses the information from the IEE ask for reimbursement.
5. If after all of this trying your child still is found not eligible, your only option may be to file for a due process hearing. This hearing is very formal and is heard in front of a hearing officer, not a judge. Try and find an experienced parent or advocate, to help you in this process.
Even if your child is found not eligible there are options available to you! Do not give up because your child is depending on you!