Your Child Should Be Evaluated
for Special Education if…
- S/he is having academic difficulties
- S/he is doing well in some classes but failing
- S/he has experienced a sudden drop in grades,
or a teacher expresses concerns to you about your child's academic
- S/he is having recurrent behavior or social
- S/he is not able to focus or sit still
- S/he is depressed, angry or moody
The Basic Process
1. A parent or educator requests an evaluation
because a student is experiencing one or more of the factors listed
Letter to Request a Special Education Evaluation
2. The school must evaluate the child and convene
a Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) that will decide if
the student is eligible for Special Education support. The parent
is an active member of the MET meeting and discussion. The parents
should request the evaluation report before the meeting so that
they might review it and be prepared to ask questions of the evaluators.
3. If found eligible, an Individualized Educational
Plan (IEP) will be immediately developed at an Individual Educational
Planning Team (IEPT) meeting. The evaluation must be completed
and an IEPT meeting must take place within 30 school days of the
original request for evaluation. (In Michigan Only)
The initial IEPT meeting should be attended
- the student, if s/he is old enough
- a parent or guardian
- the child's teacher (at least one)
- a Special Education professional or representative
- a member of the testing team, to review the
results of the evaluation
- an administrator, usually the principal
- an advocate: a friend,
relative, religious advisor, professional, or any one who will
offer moral support and has the student's best interest at heart
4. An IEPT meeting is
student-centered and a parent should be in attendance. At the
IEPT meeting, a contract providing the child with the supports
and extra resources necessary for him/her to be successful should
be discussed and developed. An initial Individualized Educational
Plan (IEP) cannot be implemented without parental consent and
- A parent does not need to agree with
anything a school official says at an IEPT meeting.
- A parent does not need to sign anything
with which they do not wholly agree.
- A parent may ask for a copy of the
IEP to take home and review before signing.
Note: The school must
notify the parents in writing of the date, time, and place
of the IEPT meeting and provide a list of those invited. The
school must make every effort to assure that the parent is
told about the meeting with plenty of time to make arrangements.
The meeting must be scheduled at a mutually convenient time
and place. The parent may waive the written notification requirement
and schedule the meeting by phone.
5. Once the parent agrees that the IEP will
meet the child’s needs and supports the recommendations
made for the child, signing the IEP makes it a legal document.
Therefore the school is required to provide the services and supports
outlined in the IEP contract. Parents should obtain a signed copy
of the IEP and MET. Ideally, the IEP will support the child increasing
his/her success throughout their remaining years in the public
6. Yearly review
- Change in placements
- 3 year re-evaluation
Potential Snags in the IEP Process
If the IEPT is not successful, and the parent
and school can not come to a decision on how to sufficiently support
and service the child, the parent can sign in disagreement. If
the parent is not satisfied with the IEP recommended by the IEPT,
- disagree but allow the plan to be implemented
- disagree and request mediation
- disagree and request a due process hearing
If the parent decides on mediation or on a
due process hearing, an independent mediator or hearing officer
will objectively and fairly listen to both the parent and the
school, and aid both parties in reaching an agreement. The Michigan
Department of Education (MDE) will issue a list of possible hearing
officers, of which both the family and the school will choose
three possibilities. If the school and family cannot reach an
agreement, the MDE will make the final decision from this list.
At this point, the parent should contact a local advocacy group
for assistance on how to approach the mediation for a successful
After evaluation, if the school does not find
a child eligible for special education services and the parent
disagrees, the parent can request an Independent Education Evaluation
(IEE). This testing is done by an evaluator outside the school,
selected by the parent. The school is required by IDEA '04 to
pay for the IEE. Once the IEE is complete, if the parent and school
still do not agree, the case should go to a due process hearing.
Due process hearings can be time consuming, tedious, and expensive.
The hearing is a formal process, and legal representation is highly
recommended. If the hearing is won by the family, the school pays
their family's legal expenses.
Letter for Independent Educational Evaluation.