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Is Child with Passing Grades Eligible for Special Ed Under IDEA?

by Wrightslaw

My child has struggled in school for years. He hasn’t failed because we provide private tutoring and work with him at home. We asked the school for special ed services. They say he is not eligible because he does not have failing grades. Is this correct?

Nope. The law says just the opposite . . .

. . . that a child does not have to fail to be eligible for special education services.

Failing or Passing Grades

According to IDEA regulation 300.101(c), the school must provide special education to a child with a disability “even though the child has not failed or been retained in a course or grade, and is advancing from grade to grade. (page 204 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition).

Eligibility: The Basics

A parent or school staff member may refer a child for an evaluation. IDEA Regulation 300.301(a)(1) – Initial evaluations (pages 92-93 and 240 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition).

To determine if a child is eligible for special education and related services, the school is required to do a comprehensive psycho educational evaluation. See IDEA, 1414(b) Evaluation Procedures (page 95-96 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition).

Did the school complete a comprehensive evaluation on the child? What were the findings?

Eligibility: Questions to Answer

In determining if a child is eligible for special education and related services, the team that includes the child’s parent needs to answer these questions:

Does the child have a disability? Yes ___No ____

Does the disability affect the child’s educational performance? Yes ___No ____

Does the child need special education and related services. Yes ___No ____

Find Answers to Your Questions

As the parent, YOU represent your child’s interests. YOU need to know what the law says. Do not rely on what others tell you.

If you need answers to questions about referring a child for an evaluation, what an evaluation must include, and parental consent for an evaluation, read pages 92-98 and pages 238-245 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition. If you have questions about IEPs, read pages 99-107 and pages 245-251 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd edition.

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80 Comments on "Is Child with Passing Grades Eligible for Special Ed Under IDEA?"


My adult senior has an IEP with a transition plan consisting of 4 lines and no social or transitional goals for 2 years (even though I have asked and begged repeatedly. I Feb I got new diagnosis of ASD even though school said he was doing fine and there was no reason to evaluate further because he was/is passing grades. I have asked for social language goals and functional goals and transition goals for 2 years with platitudes and no services provided. The school wants to exit IEP.and graduate with diploma in 5 weeks stating he has good grades so does not qualify for IEP for anything other than reading writing or math….and all the recommendations from the neuropsych do not apply to his IEP and are for a 504Plan… (recently diagnosed A SD and extensive social emotional behavioral goal recommendations by highly credentialed, Board certified child neuropsych). School says he does not meet eligibility now because his ASD/OCD/AD HD do not affect his “EDUCATIONAL PERFORMANCE” because he is a sweet compliant boy with good grades. How do I respond to that and with what law (s). …he is incapable of independently washing, crossing street, driving, hardly speaks unless spoken to etc..


What to do if the school denies to do an assessment?


I have a child who is REQUIRED to take the state graduation tests in order to graduate and has LDs and an IEP. The school knows the student takes longer taking tests (double compared to peers), has LDs affecting reading, conventions, slow to grasp math concepts, short term memory, does better with smaller chunking and yet they will NOT allow any accommodations for the testing. Is this legal? The student makes A’s and B’s, but does NOT test well and become exhausted after 4 hours of testing in one day for five days. What can be done?


My son in grade school was recently diagnosed with seizures. The school is willing to evaluate him for speech services but not OT services. His neurologist has written a script for OT because my son’s hand writing is terrible. We have been paying for OT services at our local hospitals OT rehabilitation unit. The school district has denied OT services because hand writing doesn’t effect his good grades. Can they deny him OT based solely on his grades and what else can we do to get him the services he needs for OT. OT and the neurologist are willing to write why they fell he needs OT.


The problem with OT services is your child cannot qualify for special education solely due to OT needs, there must be a processing disorder and a discrepancy to qualify under Specific Learning Disability. If he qualifies under Speech or Language Impairment, he could also receive OT services.


I would like to see some response by WrightsLaw re Common Core and the devastating effect it is having on IEP students.