Betcha Didn't Know
Betcha Didn’t Know are a series of light-hearted posts to teach basic advocacy tips.
Betcha Didn't KnowBETCHA DIDN'T KNOW that a school's obligation to evaluate your child for special education is totally different than finding your child eligible for special education. Termed "Child-find," it is the requirement that schools evaluate all children who are suspected of having a disability. Schools would have you believe that getting your child evaluated for special education involves knowledge of the law and educational psychology, a teaching credential, 2,000,000,000 American Express travel miles, a retinal scan, and your left pinky toe.
In reality, the threshold for triggering the school's child-find obligation is so low, you just have to create the SUSPICION your child has a disability. Nothing more. The school should evaluate your child and then a discussion about eligibility takes place when you review the results of the evaluation at an IEP meeting.
Do's & Dont'sDon't: Do not request your special education evaluation verbally. Everything you do should be in writing. If it is not in writing, while the school needs to tell you how to make a proper request in writing, the school can deny receipt of your request. Do not accept these reasons for denying your evaluation request: absences; lack of instruction in math or reading; temporary physical disabilities; social maladjustment; or, environmental, cultural, or economic factors. These are only considerations once your child has been evaluated.
Do: Write all the reasons you feel your child should be evaluated (health or medical diagnoses, academic problems, social-emotional issues, etc.). The more you list, the greater the suspicion you create. Keep a copy of your written request and make sure you have proof the school received it (certified mail, fax, time-stamped, etc.). If you want to get fancy, include the following cite in your letter to the school, as authority for the position that the threshold for having a child assessed is very low: Department of Education, State of Hawaii v. Cari Rae S. (D. Hawaii 2001) 158 F. Supp. 2d 1190.
Now I KnowNOW I KNOW that having my child evaluated by the school should be easy. Determining whether your child is eligible for special education should not be part of this decision. Create the suspicion your child has a disability and you have your foot in the door--pinky toe and all.