Children bring unique abilities, strengths and styles of learning to the educational setting. When a child has difficulty in school, it may be noticed by the teacher, other school personnel, the parents or the child. The purpose of the referral process is to follow through, if either the school or parents believe the child is still not progressing as he or she should be or suspect the child may have a disability.

What happens after pre-referral if concerns continue?

If, after a series of pre-referral interventions, the pre-referral team members and/or the parents believe a full evaluation may be necessary, team members or parents may request a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting to discuss the need for an evaluation. This is a formal process that must follow state and federal guidelines. If parents agree to this evaluation and sign a consent to evaluate, then the formal process begins.

However, instead of proceeding with an evaluation as the initial step, the team may recommend Response-to-Intervention (RTI) services when a learning disability is suspected.

RTI, one of the provisions of IDEA, is a research-based process designed to encourage school districts to provide additional support for struggling students, as early as possible, within the general education environment. It is a multi-tier model that provides services and interventions at increasing levels of intensity. At each stage of intervention, the student’s progress is monitored closely and the results are used to make decisions about the need for further research-based instruction and intervention in general education, special education or both.
Referral to Determine Eligibility for Special Education and Related Services;;
Parent Notice of Referral to Determine Eligibility;;
See page 17.

If the decision is to proceed with an evaluation, special education law requires the school to meet strict time deadlines in evaluating a child and formulating an appropriate Individualized Education Program (IEP). After the initial referral, the school must complete its evaluation and, if it finds the child eligible, must formulate and implement an IEP, within 45 school days (excluding weekends, holidays, school vacations and the time required to obtain written parental consent) or 60 school days for an out-of-district placement.

A parent may also initiate a referral that will “start the clock running.“ The initial referral that begins this 45-day period may take place at any time during the school year. Special exceptions may be made to expedite the time-frame, based upon the urgency of the child’s needs.

What happens when a parent has concerns throughout the year?

Parents may also make a request for a special education evaluation at any time by writing a letter to the school their child attends. It is wise for parents to date the request and keep a copy for their records. Parents may also verbally request a referral (“I am requesting special education services for my child.”); however, a letter provides proof that a request for a referral was made. Upon receipt of the request for evaluation, the team will meet to consider the request. A request for evaluation does not automatically trigger an evaluation. The team will discuss the reasons for the request and determine if an evaluation is warranted. If the team decides to refer the child for evaluation, the process outlined above would be followed, including the pre-referral process. If the parents disagree with the team’s decision not to evaluate their child, they may have the child evaluated independently or exercise their due process rights.
Procedural Safeguards.


How to Be an Effective Advocate for Your Child