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Special Education Referral Process

If your child continues to struggle despite having a building-level intervention plan, or if you believe your child's academic/behavioral/mental health needs are severe enough that they require special education services (an IEP) ASAP, the next step would be to request a multi-factored evaluation for special education services.

Here is what that process should look like:

  1. Formal request in writing from the parent to the school district to initiate a multi-factored evaluation for special education services.

  2. Once your formal request has been submitted, the school district has 30 days to schedule a team meeting, often called a "Suspected Disability Meeting," to discuss your request, your concerns, and determine next steps.

  3. It is best practice for districts to first pursue building-level interventions prior to moving forward with an evaluation in the interest of keeping students in their least restrictive environment. If you have not yet been through the MTSS process with your student, it is likely that the team will try to convince you to do that first. Most times (for example, failing classes for not completing homework), that is appropriate. Sometimes (for example, mental health hospitalizations), it is not.

  4. If your child has been through the MTSS process faithfully without demonstrating growth in the targeted areas, it is likely the team will agree to suspect a disability.

  5. Once a disability is suspected, the school district has 30 days to complete the referral form, an evaluation plan, and obtain parent consent. This is typically done in a meeting with the School Psychologist. They will sometimes come prepared to the Suspected Disability meeting with the necessary paperwork to avoid having to schedule another meeting and to expedite the evaluation.

  6. After the district has obtained your signature on the consent form, they have 60 days to complete the evaluation and schedule a meeting with you to review the results.

Below is a template you can use to copy/paste into an email to your child's building administrator or school counselor to request an evaluation.


Dear [name of administrator or counselor]:

I would like to request a formal multi-factored evaluation for special education services for my student, [insert your student’s full name here].

I have concerns regarding the following:

  • [insert concern one]

  • [insert concern two]

  • [insert concern three]

I understand that a meeting must be scheduled with the district to discuss whether it is appropriate to suspect a disability for my child in the next 30 days. In that timeframe, I would be available to meet [insert your available dates and times here].

Thank you for all you do for our kiddos and I look forward to meeting with you soon.

Best regards,

[Your name and contact information]

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