Special Education Referral Process
A student is typically referred for an evaluation by a Student Support Team (SST) (Tier 3) when it has documented sufficient evidence to suspect that a disability may be the primary cause of the student’s learning or behavior problem(s). This usually occurs after appropriate interventions in the general education classroom have failed to find a satisfactory solution. A parent may also request in writing an evaluation.
RTI: Parents should note that Georgia Rules for the IDEA eligibility require "Response to Intervention" (RtI) data in order to eliminate other explanations for student problems. If the RTI process has been bypassed, the data may need to be gathered during the evaluation process. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that before a student can receive special education services, the district must determine whether the student meets eligibility requirements for special education and needs special education services. The district must conduct (or arrange for) a comprehensive evaluation that
- provides sufficient data to determine whether the student is a student with a disability;
- documents how the disability affects the student’s academic or behavioral performance in school; and
- provides appropriate information for the development of an IEP, if eligible.
- If a referral is made to special education eligibility and consideration, the SST must be sure to include documentation of interventions attempted, observations, and any assessment results.
- Parents must sign consent for special education evaluation and eligibility before a referral to special education can be started. Once consent for evaluation is received by the school, the eligibility meeting must be held within 60 days.
- After the referral packet is compiled, the packet will be sent to the special education office. Incomplete packets will be sent back to the school in order to receive required documentation.
- Once the completed referral packet is received, the school psychologist will gather remaining required components and complete necessary assessments. Once all information needed is gathered, an eligibility meeting will be scheduled.
- The eligibility team will determine eligibility decision based on the data and state and federal special education rules. If the student is deemed eligible, an IEP will be developed within 30 days of the eligibility meeting. Once the IEP meeting is held and developed, parental consent for placement must be signed. If the parent refuses consent for placement, the student remains in regular education and special education services are not implemented. If the student is not deemed eligible for special education, the file will be returned to the school to determine what level of intervention, support, strategies, and/or 504 is needed.
If the referral is made by parental request, the district can either agree to or refuse the request. If the district refuses, it must give the parent written notice explaining the reason(s) why it is declining to initiate an evaluation, what data the decision was based upon, and other factors considered. The parents then have the right, if they choose, to request a due process hearing to seek a favorable ruling to conduct an evaluation.