Evaluations for Special Education Eligibility
Written notice must be given to the parents of a child with a disability a reasonable time before the public agency proposes to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child; or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child. The written notice must contain required elements.
The public agency (Rockwall ISD) proposing to conduct an initial evaluation to determine if a child qualifies as a child with a disability after providing notice consistent with the provision outlined in the Prior Written Notice, obtain informed consent, from the parent of the child before conducting the evaluation.
Purpose of Special Education Evaluation: Specially Designed Instruction
Special education is defined as specially designed instruction provided to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability. Specially designed instruction is designed to ensure access to the general curriculum through modifications so that the student can meet the same academic standards as his/her nondisabled peers and to ensure progress toward meeting IEP goals and objectives.
Specially designed instruction means organized and planned instructional activities typically provided by an appropriately qualified special education professional that modify, as appropriate the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction. What makes instruction truly individualized and specially designed for a student with a disability and different from what a general education student receives is how the instruction is linked to the student's IEP goals and objectives.
It should be noted, however, that specially designed instruction is fundamentally different than accommodations. Accommodations are something that teachers provide to support access to the general curriculum. Accommodations do not change what is taught, but change the strategies used to teach the content or change how instruction is delivered to students. Accommodations may be considered as a means for providing differentiated instruction that is responsive to a variety of learning styles. Because of their basic nature and ease of implementation, an individual does not have to have specialized training to provide accommodations. Moreover, many accommodations are common-sense approaches for responding to the learning needs of students with or without disabilities. Students who are able to have their learning needs met effectively and sufficiently within the general education environment through the exclusive use of individual accommodations rather than specially designed instruction would not be considered a special education student in this area.
Parent Consent for Evaluation
- The activities under the IDEA cannot take place unless the school obtains the parent’s consent.
- The school must fully inform a parent of all the information needed to be able to make a decision including a description of the proposed activity.
- The information must be in the parent’s native language or other mode of communication.
- If there are records to be released, the school must list the records and to whom they will be released to.
- When a parent gives consent, it means that the parent understands and agrees in writing that the school will carry out the activity (evaluation) for which consent is sought. It is important that the parent understands that consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time prior to the activity taking place. If a parent revokes consent for an activity, it is not retroactive. The school must maintain documentation of reasonable efforts to:
- Obtain parental consent for initial evaluations (including detailed telephone records, copies of correspondence, and detailed records of visits made to the student’s home)
- Provide special education and related services for the first time
- Complete a reevaluation
- Locate parents of wards of the state for initial evaluation.
- The school may not evaluate a child for special education services without the parent's consent.
- Informed parental consent means that the parent understands and agrees in writing to allow the school to test his/her child.
- If the parent does not consent to the initial evaluation, the school district may, but is not required to, ask for mediation or request a due process hearing to evaluate the child.
- If the school district decides not to ask for mediation or to request a due process hearing to override a parent's refusal to consent for evaluation of their child, the school district is not in violation of the Child Find requirements under the IDEA.