The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates that states locate and identify all children who have a disability and may need special education services.
Specifically IDEA states in Section 300.11:
“The State must have in effect policies and procedures to ensure that—
(i) All children with disabilities residing in the State, including children with disabilities who are homeless children or are wards of the State, and children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated; and
(ii) A practical method is developed and implemented to determine which children are currently receiving needed special education and related services.”
What does this mean for parents?
It means that schools have a responsibility to identify children who may have a disability. This also applies if you have decided to place your in a public or private school.
Perfectly Followed Plan
In a perfect world an educator would notice and pay special attention when they think a child may have a disability. They are supposed to report this as soon as there is a suspicion, but in many cases it can be difficult to determine if there is a disability or other factors that should be considered. Often the teacher will reach out to parents first, with a discussion about how the child is struggling and how they can work together. If teachers still believe there is a concern after trying various strategies, parents will receive a notice request to evaluate their child.
Real World Scenario
In many cases, it is the parents who first notice their child is struggling. I often hear that parents have brought things up to teachers and administrators and nothing has been done. We love our teachers and know the good ones put in so much effort and time into their jobs on a daily basis. Sometimes things fall through the cracks…. This is one time where you have to speak up. Don’t just tell the teachers and administrators you think your child is really struggling with reading, put it in writing. Write out all the reasons you think that your child might be struggling and in what areas they are struggling, put it all into a nice email with a request for evaluation. Once this is done it starts your time clock. They can either send you a reason in writing why they don’t believe your child needs an evaluation or they will send the paperwork home to consent to evaluation. In Texas that is 15 days.
A Personal Note
In my personal experience with my own children I have had to request for evaluations myself. Previous attempts for support from teachers were helpful but we still needed more. It was not until those evaluations were completed and we were able to discuss them in a committee, that I was able to get them the support they need.
Early intervention works a little differently. If your child is under the age of three and there are concerns from you or your doctor about their development, then you will want to call early intervention services. In most states staff will come to your home, or somewhere convenient for you, and do an evaluation there. Some states have child development centers where you can bring your child for evaluation. All evaluations are free of charge. If you qualify choose and to use the services after evaluation, the fee structure varies by state.