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

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

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to Nancy;

I am in the same boat. My son has ADHDd, dysraphia and exec fxn difficulities.Here is what I was told to say -grapho-motor, attentional and organizational needs exceed what the 504 provides.

functional performance in class is descrepant from his cognitive ability and therefore he qualifies for an IEP as other health impaired. Inconsistency in performance is not due to work ethic but to gaps in his educational and instructional experience.

I have been told to ask for access to a learning center for organiztional help ,and a copy of class notes.

Also check to see if he has a difference between his full IQ and performance IQ. If more than on standard devialtion I am told he qualifies on that count.

Also I took my son to a pediatric physiatrist who diagnosed fine motor skill pblms. also get a Connor’s done at school.

Just because a student has ADHD does not mean they need SDI (Specially Designed Instruction), and does not mean that they meet criteria under the eligibility of Other Health Impairment (OHI) under IDEA. In a nutshell, consideration for eligibility consists of two things: academic and/or behavioral impact at school. Section 504 is a little different, but again, just because a child has a diagnosis of ADHD, does not mean they meet eligibility criteria under Section 504. I would ask why/how your child met eligibility crtieria for a 504 Plan. I would also ask why your child does not meet eligibility criteria for special education services, this explanation would need to follow after an evaluation by a school psychologist. It sounds like the Section 504 Plan was poorly developed/written.

My child (age 10) has been diagnosed with ADHD only by pediatrician and psychologist outside of the school district. ADHD is considered a “disorder” of a neurobiological nature and not a “disability”. Does he qualify for an IEP evaluation based on ADHD alone? His “disorder” is completely disabling in terms of executive functioning. The school is balking at an evaluation because he is functioning at grade level, although his grades are slipping rapidly. To complicate matters, he is in a GT program. He is experiencing social and emotional distress and has developed a negative self-image. So far he is receiving 504 test accommodations, but he needs more under 504 and I feel that a health para is not inappropriate for his needs, but the school psychologist disagrees about appropriateness of an IEP evaluation, since he is not “disabled”.

Be careful about not waiting for the RTI process. Often RTI services are better than special education services. Be careful not to make your focus getting a special ed label. It is like standing on a warship with a banner behind you that says mission accomplished.

Paul, what do you want for your child? What do you want the academic goals to be?, What do you want “services to coordinate learning” to look like?

My child has also severely struggled, but has an IEP because of both visual and hearing impairments, and receives some services such as large print books and speech class. There is also an established connection with her visual impairment and auditory processing.

For the last two years, the school says the IEP does not need to have academic goals for her primary disability (vision) since she is passing.

The school says any resource services to coordinate in learning because of her multiple disabilities are not required since she is passing.

The school says any self-advocacy goals are not required since she is passing.

The school says the IEP meets the needs since she is passing.

Help! Any thoughts?

After Public Law #94-142, IDEA was passed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability at no cost to the parents. Before I took this special education law class, I also believed that a special need student had to fail to receive services. I suggest that you ask for an immediate evaluation. You will not have to wait for the RTI process to begin the evaluation process. Remember your child’s evaluation tasks top priority. Good luck!

The school is required to determine the need for a “comprehensive psycho educational evaluation” and if so determined address every area of need.