Eligibility FAQ

What is the process to find out if a child is eligible for special education services?

If a student is suspected of having a disability, a referral is made to evaluate him or her for special education testing. Once the parent signs the Permission for Testing Forms, timelines begin and the schools have 65 business days to complete the assessments and hold the eligibility meeting.  (Some states have a different timeline)

During these 65 days, several testing components will be completed with you and your child. The evaluators will write reports and a copy will be given to parents at the eligibility meeting. However, schools are required to have a copy available for parents to pick up two days before the eligibility meeting. It is advised, that parents take advantage of this and read reports before the meeting to help get familiar with the information and to formulate questions. The reports hold a lot of information that can be overwhelming if you are not familiar with this type of testing.

How is eligibility determined?

Federal Laws (IDEA 2004) have been set by the government. Each state interprets the laws, then the local school districts interpret the laws and establish guidelines. There are 13 disability categories in which a student can be eligible to receive special education services. Each category has a federal definition It is up to a school system to evaluate and determine if specific criteria are met within a particular category. A school system typical completes an evaluation based on the suspected disability. At the eligibility meeting, the evaluations are presented and then the team looks at the criteria for the suspected disability and determines whether the student is eligible to receive special education services.

Who attends the eligibility meeting?

In addition to the parent, every meeting should include an administrator, the classroom teacher, a Special Education teacher and everyone who completed an assessment (usually the School Psychologist, Educational Diagnostician, and School Social Worker).

Once eligible, will my child always be eligible for Special Education?

When a child is found eligible for special education services, they remain eligible for three years unless a reevaluation is completed early. Every three years, the school is required to examine each student in special education and determine if he or she continues to qualify for special education services. Oftentimes full testing will be reconducted to determine continued eligibility. Parents must sign consent in order for testing to be completed.

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