School Begins – Special Education Evaluations

It is hard to believe but school is beginning for the 2017-18 school year. By August 7th, all school districts should be back in session.  You have had the summer to think about your child and whether  news issues need to be addressed. You should be thinking about whether your child needs a special education evaluation or additional evaluations.  I will illustrative this question with an example of a family I recently  interviewed.

The parent arrived at my office with her ten year old son.  She had concerns whether  school system was doing its job.  She wondered why her child was placed at the GNET Center.  She wondered why her child had behavior problems.  She had made an appointment for her child to receive a comprehensive special education evaluation at the Marcus Center.  After reviewing the school system’s evaluation, I confirmed that the Marcus Center would probably perform a much better special evaluation than the school system.  The child had been evaluated by the school system and found to be eligible under the category of intellectually disabled and speech and language impairment.  The evaluator, however, did not perform a speech and language evaluation on the child. The child was not referred to a speech and language evaluation therapist for an evaluation.  Further, the child was not referred to an occupational therapist for an evaluation. It was obvious to me that the child needed such an evaluation. Moreover, the child had difficult walking because his feet were at 45 degree angles due to surgery.  Again, it was obvious to me that the child needed a physical therapy evaluation. Nonetheless, the school system did not perform a physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech and language evaluation. Why?  I also thought the child would benefit from an assistive technology evaluation to determine what assistive technology and devices might be useful.

This is just an example of how school system do not perform proper and comprehensive evaluations for children with disabilities. Sometimes the school system simply does not refer a child for a special education evaluation at all.  This is likely a child find issue.  The school system has legal responsibility to locate, identify, evaluate a child who is suspected of having a disability. 34 C.F.R. 300.111.(c). For a child that is already determined eligible for special education and related services under the IDEA, the school system has a continuing duty to evaluate. The school system’s duty to evaluate a child does not stop at eligibility. this duty continues as long as the child attends school in the district. The school system must evaluate a child in all areas of related to the child’s suspected disability, including health, vision, hearing, emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communication, and motor abilities. 34 C.F.R. 300.304(c)(4).

As a parent, I would determine now if your child needs a special education evaluation because he is suspected of having a disability. If your child is already receiving special education and has an IEP, I would consider whether he needs additional evaluations in any areas where he has a need for special education and related services such as occupational, physical, and speech and language therapies.

If you have any questions about this topic, let me know.