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Special Education Tip # 6: Make Sure Your Child Receives an Evaluation within the Required Timeframe

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Special Education Tip # 6: Make Sure Your Child Receives an Evaluation within the Required Timeframe

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Special Education Tip – Receiving a Timely Evaluation

As a parent there may come a time when you are concerned about your child’s performance in school, and you may suspect that your child requires special education services to make progress. If this is the case, you will want to request that your school district conduct an initial evaluation to determine if your child is eligible to receive special education and related services.

Once you have requested an initial evaluation, there are specific timelines imposed under both federal and state law that outline when the school district must conduct such an evaluation and convene a team meeting to discuss the results. The laws setting out these timelines can be confusing with some differences between Massachusetts law and Federal requirements set out by the IDEA.

Massachusetts law provides stricter timelines than the Federal IDEA when it comes to the period of time a school district has to conduct an evaluation. In Massachusetts, evaluations must be completed within 30 school working days after the receipt of a parent’s written consent to an initial evaluation, or a re-evaluation. In addition, the district must convene a Team meeting to review the evaluation results, determine whether the student requires special education, and, if required, must develop an IEP within 45 school working days after receiving consent for an evaluation. If requested by the parents, the district must also provide a summary of the findings of the evaluation 2 days prior to the team meeting.

In essence, this means that once a parent requests an evaluation, the school district has 30 school days to complete the evaluation and 45 school days to complete the entire process, including convening a team meeting to discuss the results and develop an IEP, if necessary.

It is important to note that the law uses the term “school days” rather than “days” or “calendar days” which means that only days that school is in session are counted. “School working days” does not include weekends, holidays and other breaks from school. By way of example, if you were to request and provide consent for an evaluation of your child on September 2, 2014, the district would be required to complete the evaluation by October 15, 2014. This counts 30 school days, including a day off for Columbus Day, and not counting weekend days. Under this same example, the school district would have until November 5, 2014 to conduct a Team meeting and draft an IEP (if one was required) as this date falls 45 school days from the date of consent for the evaluation.

If you are concerned that your school district is not complying with the timelines for an evaluation required under Massachusetts law, please contact an attorney in our office for further information and assistance – we are here to help.

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