When you have a disagreement between the teachers and the school psychologist about whether a child qualifies for services, you must consider the real question that needs to be answered. “Does the child have a disability that adversely affects educational performance?” If the answer to the question is “yes,” then the child is eligible under IDEA.
I am a special education teacher in a small school district.
We tested an ESL student to see if he qualifies for services.
Based on the evaluation, the school psychologist recommended him for special education. But, the student’s teachers at his junior high school said the child is not eligible. Can these teachers override the recommendation of the school psychologist?
The IDEA sets out a series of steps that must be taken before a child is determined to be eligible for special education and related services. This is not a decision made by the child’s teachers or the school psychologist or the principal alone. It is a decision made by a “team of qualified professionals” after the child has been evaluated by various professionals.
The school must
- conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine the child’s educational needs, and
- use the results of the evaluation to make an eligibility decision.
There are several requirements about this evaluation.
The school must use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental and academic information on the child. This includes information provided by the parent. These requirements are spelled out in IDEA 2004, Section 1414 about Evaluations, Reevaluations, IEPs, and Placements.
The law about eligibility for a child with a specific learning disability changed – there is no longer a requirement to use a discrepancy formula. At the same time, Section 1414(b)(2)(B) says the school may “not use any single measure or assessment [such as RTI] as the sole criterion…”. The Federal Regulations 300.310(b) also say that a child suspected of having a specific learning disability must be observed in the regular classroom after the child has been referred for an evaluation.
The question is not about which recommendation can override the other, rather what is stated in the law. The requirements for eligibility and evaluation are spelled out in IDEA 2004 and the Federal Regulations.
Teachers need to become familiar with the law – it has a huge impact on how they do their work (and what they are supposed to do!)
Get more information on Eligibility
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, Section 1414 (b) (Evaluations, eligibility), p. 95