Parents, school personnel, students or others may express a concern that a student may have a disability that could require special education. Building student support teams typically recommend individualized interventions be tried with students prior to a referral to special education. However, if the intervention is unsuccessful in assisting the student to make reasonable progress and a disability is suspected, a special education evaluation may be considered.
An evaluation identifies the student's strengths and difficulties related to school performance. It also provides information to help the team determine if the student is eligible and in need of special education. Once parent permission is received, the school district must complete the evaluation within 30 school days. An evaluation may include parent interviews, observations, formal assessment using standardized tests, and/or consultations with specialists. Information provided by outside providers such as private psychologists is considered by the team but cannot be used as the sole determiner of eligibility.
A team of qualified professionals will review the results of the evaluation and determine if the student qualifies for and is in need of special education services. Parent input is considered.
If the team agrees that the student is eligible for special education, the team begins to plan the student’s special education program if the parent chooses to proceed with special education services. This discussion may begin at the evaluation-sharing meeting or at another meeting that is typically held within 10 school days after the evaluation meeting. Parent participation is very important in this process.
If the student has not been determined to meet State of Minnesota eligibility criteria, educators will make recommendations on how to use the evaluation information to assist the student in the general education classroom in order to help the student overcome his/her educational difficulties. General education support services may be recommended.
If the parent(s) disagree with the results of an evaluation, they can refer to the Parent Rights and Procedural Safeguard brochure for options available.
The student's parent(s) and school staff meet to develop and IEP, IFSP or IIIP for the student. The plan describes the student's present level of educational performance based on formal evaluation and informal evaluation results. The team identifies student needs based on the evaluation information and the identified disability. The IEP, IFSP or IIP lists special education services the student needs as derived from the disability. This includes goals the student is expected to achieve in one year and objectives or benchmarks to note progress towards the goals. The student must require specially designed instruction in order to be eligible for special education. Special education services are not needed if a student requires accommodations or modifications only. The team determines what services are in the IEP, IFSP, or IIIP, as well as the location where those services are to be delivered.
The student's educational placement must be in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) appropriate to the student's needs. He or she will be placed in the regular classroom to the greatest extent appropriate, unless the IEP team determines that in order for the student to benefit from specialized instruction, he or she must receive special education services in a special education setting. Instruction in a special education setting is individually determined.
Special education services will begin when parents provide their signature on the Prior Written Notice form, indicating their approval of the plan. An IEP case manager is assigned to coordinate services for the student. This person communicates with parents, school personnel and others. Another responsibility this person has is to monitor and report the student's progress towards the annual goals and objectives.
Parents receive reports on their child's progress on annual goals at least as often as parents are given reports for children who do not have disabilities. Parents can request that the IEP team meet if reports show that a student is not making progress and that changes may need to be made in the IEP. Otherwise, the IEP team meets at least annually for review the plan.
If a parent disagrees with any proposed changes to an IEP or a new annual IEP, their child will continue to receive the services listed in the previous IEP until the parents and school staff reach agreement. Parents should discuss their concerns with the special educators and other school personnel on the IEP team. If disagreement continues, there are options available for dispute resolution.