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 Beginning the Special Education Process 

When the Special Education process begins, an initial referral for an evaluation is made. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and corresponding New York State Part 200 Regulations have made changes with respect to the initial referral process, including the initial referral source. Only specific people may make a referral for an initial evaluation, while different individuals may make a Request for Referral for Initial Evaluation.

The process is outlined below as described in the the New York State Education Department’s Parent Guide to Special Education. 

This is an excellent resource for parents and can be found on the Internet at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/parentguide.htm#InRef


The first step in determining if your child has a disability and if he or she requires special education services is to request an evaluation. This initial referral must be in writing and may be made by you or a designated school district official.

What is a referral for special education?

A referral is a written statement asking that the school district evaluate your child to determine if he or she needs special education services. This written statement should be addressed to the chairperson of your school’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) or school principal. The referral may result in a request to have your child tested to see if he or she needs special education services.  Within 10 school days of the receipt of the referral, the Coordinating Administrator of Special Education (CASE) conducts a meeting with the parents, the student (if appropriate) and the person submitting the referral.  It may be determined at this meeting that the referral will be withdrawn.

 

How can you request an Initial Evaluation for your child?

  • Send a letter to the principal at your child's school or to the Department of Specialized Services requesting an evaluation
  • Give a written request to a professional staff member of your child's school;

Who else can make an Initial Referral? 

You, the parent, can always make a referral for your child. The following people can also refer a student for an Initial evaluation:

  • The Executive Director of Specialized Services
  • the commissioner or designee of a public agency with responsibility for the education of the student; and/or
  • a designee of an education program affiliated with a child care institution with CSE responsibility pursuant to section 4002(3) of the Education Law.

Your child’s teacher or a professional in your child’s school may also make a request for referral for Initial Referral to the Committee. Additional people who may make a request for referral include doctors, judicial officers (such as a family court judge or a probation officer) or a designated person in a public agency. A student over eighteen and younger than 21 who is an emancipated minor may request a referral for him or herself.


 

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