If you believe that your child has a disability and requires a service (physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.) to access education you should request an evaluation from the school district. An evaluation is the first step in getting services provided by the school in the school. Make sure that your request for an evaluation is in writing.
When your child is evaluated for special education services in school, you should specify what areas of support you believe your child needs and those areas should be evaluated by the school psychologist. That evaluation will assess what areas your child qualifies for specially designed instruction in order to access education and provide recommendations for the accommodations, modifications, and related services that your child will need.
Some examples of disabilities that affect access to education can be a specific learning disability in an academic area such as math or reading; physical disability that would require physical or occupational therapy such as the ability to walk independently or fine motor skills; speech or other communication that would require specialized instruction from a speech/language pathologist; behavior impairments which could require a specific functional behavior analysis; or social impairment that could require specially designed instruction. If you have just received a diagnosis of your student, your student’s doctor should be able to provide you with some guidance on requesting early intervention services while you wait for a school evaluation.
If you receive an evaluation back that is either incomplete, inaccurate, or inappropriate in some other way, you can request an independent educational evaluation (IEE). The school district must either provide the IEE or go to an administrative law judge to explain why they shouldn’t have to provide an independent evaluation.
- Request the evaluation in writing.
- Be specific in your request of what areas should be evaluated.
- Be persistent: especially during a break, some requests for evaluations fall through the cracks. If you haven’t heard back after a week, send a follow up email asking about the status of the evaluation request.