Is your child struggling at school? Are they getting in trouble due to their behavior on a regular basis? Do you think they are not getting enough help to succeed? Do you suspect your child has a disability? Does your child have a diagnosis from a medical professional?
As a parent or guardian, you have the legal right to request a free evaluation for special education services from your local public school. This request needs to be in writing and addressed to the necessary school staff members (ask your child’s teacher or office staff who will receive the evaluation). Your letter needs to be as specific as possible - explaining why you are requesting the evaluation. I recommend hand-delivering the request for evaluation, so you can have it time-stamped, signed, and copied for your records.
No later than 15 school days after receiving and reviewing your request, the school will create a consent (or refusal) for evaluation for you to sign. Once the school agrees to the evaluation and gets your signed consent, they will have 45 school days to complete it under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The evaluation of a child must be full and individual (FIE) and rely on a variety of measures and tests.
Within 30 calendar days of completing the FIE, the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee must meet and make its decisions regarding a student's initial eligibility determination and, if appropriate, create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). There are 13 disabilities listed in IDEA. If the evaluation determines your child has one or more of these disabilities and needs special education and related services through an IEP, the school must provide those services. If the evaluation determines your child does not have a disability, and you do not agree with the results, you can use due process to have the school redo testing.
The most important thing to remember during this process is that every child CAN learn and you have every right to advocate for your child.
Below is a letter that you can customize and use to request an evaluation for special education services for your child.
Attn: Principal/ LSSP/ SLP/ Special Education Director
City, State Zip Code
RE: (child’s name) Request for Evaluation
Dear (School Staff Member),
I am writing to request an assessment for my child, (name), to determine if (he/she) is eligible for special education services. <IF NOT SCHOOL AGE, USE THIS SENTENCE> (He/She) is (age) years old and does not currently attend school, but lives in the (school name) attendance area. <IF SCHOOL AGE, USE THIS SENTENCE> (He/ She) is (age) years old and is in (number) grade with (teacher’s name) at (school name). I am requesting assessments in the areas of (list areas) for the following reason(s): (be as detailed as possible). I understand that all areas of difficulty should be assessed for whatever services that might be available to accommodate (child’s name).
I look forward to meeting with the assessment team as soon as the assessments are completed so that we can discuss the results and plan for my child’s education. Finally, I would like copies of the assessment report(s) at least one week prior to the IEP meeting so that I may review them in order to be better prepared for the meeting.