STEP 1: The IEP Referral

An IEP referral can be initiated by the school's student study team (SST), but often there is a direct request for a special education evaluation.

The referral can originate from a parent, teacher or other school personnel. The Individual with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA), mandates that school districts have the responsibility to identify, find and evaluate students who live within their boundaries suspected of having a disability. This is called child find.

If you suspect that your child has a learning disability and after attempting interventions, he or she continues to struggle both at school and at home, you should refer your child for an evaluation.

Here is a sample letter you can use if you'd like to request an evaluation. Just change the information to reflect your child's situation and your concerns.

The IEP referral should be done in writing and it should be dated, signed and copied. Submit it directly to the principal, school psychologist or to your child’s teacher.

Since the IEP process can legally take up to 60 days to complete, the district should provide you with an assessment plan and a copy of your procedural safeguards within 15 days of receiving the referral. If you have questions about your rights, ask them right away.

Parents have 15 days to approve the plan and return the consent form. Without informed parent consent your child cannot be evaluated unless the district uses due process.

REMEMBER…this initial consent is ONLY for the eligibility evaluation, not for any type of special education services. Additional consent must be obtained in order for an IEP to be written and implemented.

If your child is enrolled in a private school or is in a home school program you can read about services your child may be eligible for in those special sections.

If your child is struggling in a specific class or suddenly experiences difficulty after demonstrating previous success, you should schedule a parent-teacher conference immediately.

STEP 2 of the IEP Process is to evaluate your child for ELIGIBILITY.