Referring Children for Consideration
for Special Education Services
Referral is the beginning of the special education process. At
the time of referral, the school district must notify the parents
in writing about the process it will follow to determine whether
a child has a disability and needs special education services.
What is child find?
IDEA requires that all children with disabilities (birth through
twenty-one) residing in the state, including children with disabilities
attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disability,
and who may be in need of special education and related services,
must be identified, located, and evaluated by the public agency
responsible and a practical method developed and implemented to
determine which children with disabilities are currently receiving
needed special education and related services.
Who should refer a child suspected of having a
disability for formal evaluation and consideration for special education
and related services?
If a child is suspected to have special needs because of a disability,
he or she may be referred to the school to be considered for special
education and related services. This referral may be made by parents,
teachers, doctors, a community agency, an individual, a group, or
an organization that may have worked with the student or school.
Referral may also be the result of district-wide testing or screening.
What are the steps in the referral process?
Steps in the referral process include the following:
- At the time of referral, the school district must notify the
parents in writing about the process it will follow to determine
whether a student has a disability and needs special education
- Information gathered during the referral process is used to
determine whether the school will test a student to determine
if he/she has a disability and needs special education.
- If the school decides to test the child, the school is to notify
the parents in writing about the assessment process and get written
consent from the parent before the assessment begins.
- If the school decides not to test the child for special education
eligibility, the school must notify the parents about this decision.
Parents may challenge the school district’s refusal to assess
Excerpted from the LDA ADVOCACY HANDBOOK: A Parent’s Guide
for Special Education available to LDA members for free downloading in the Members Only section or available for $12.00 from LDA.