Qualifying a child for special education services is a process. As much as we would like it to be quick, the fact of the matter is, it is not. Let's work through the process here today.
Your child's team completed an initial evaluation for special education services either due to a referral from the school or because you requested the evaluation. Once parental consent was obtained, the school had 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation. Once completed, the IEP team will set up a time to convene to go over the results of the evaluation, determine eligibility, and if a child qualifies, develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The eligibility meeting and development of the IEP may occur at the same meeting or may be broken up into two meetings. As this can be a lengthy, and sometimes overwhelming process, I am in favor of breaking it up into two meetings.
To qualify for special education services, a child must be found to have a disabling condition that falls under the 13 categories defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the disability has to have an adverse effect on his or her education. Adverse effect is not clearly defined in the IDEA, which can be troublesome in eligibility meetings, but utilizing the results from the evaluation, as well as data from the classroom teacher(s), a team should be able to come to a consensus on whether or not the child's disability is impeding their education.
Please note, the U.S. Department of Education is very clear that education includes more than academics. They have issued statements in letters pertaining to ADHD and behavior. If a child struggles behaviorally, socially, or with attention, this impacts their education, too.
Ideally we hope the process is smooth, but as many of you know, this is not always the case. What happens, then, if you disagree with the results of the evaluation? You can request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).
What needs to be included in a letter requesting an IEE? The basics, such as the date, your name, address, phone number, primary person your letter is directed to (for us it was the superintendent), and their address. Within the body of the letter be sure to include when your child was evaluated, the statement, "We are requesting an independent educational evaluation at public expense," as well as the reason(s) why. By law you do not have to explain why you disagree with their evaluation, but I personally find it beneficial to have the reasons document