March 12-16 is Education Support Professionals Week.
Identification and Referral (Child Find): Referral
A student whether or not enrolled in school, may be referred for a special education evaluation by parents, district staff or other persons knowledgeable about the student. Each building principal will designate a person responsible for ensuring that district staff understands the referral process. Referrals are required to be in writing unless the person referring is unable to write. If the special education referral is a verbal request by the parent/guardian, another staff member, or another person knowledgeable about the student, the LWSD staff member receiving this request must e-mail the building administrator and school psychologist of the request for a special education referral.
When a referral is made, the district must act within a 25 school-day timeline to make a decision about whether or not the student will receive an evaluation for eligibility for special education services.
All certificated employees will document referrals immediately upon a referral being made to or by them. All other staff receiving a referral from another person shall notify and provide a copy of the written notice to the building's administrator, and guidance team facilitator/school psychologist. The school psychologist will create a Special Education Referral record in the district's IEP data management system, provide written notice of special education referral to the parent(s) and send a written invitation to the Guidance Team Meeting along with a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards and the Child Find Brochure. The school's Guidance Team Facilitator or designee will collect student data and information provided by the parent(s) to determine whether evaluation is warranted.
During the referral period, the building’s guidance team will collect and review existing information from all sources, including parents. Examples may include:
- Child’s history, including developmental milestones
- Report cards and progress reports
- Individual teacher’s or other provider’s information regarding the child including observations
- Assessment data
- Medical information, if provided
- Other information that may be relevant to assist in determining whether the child should be evaluated
If the review of data occurs at a meeting, the parent will be invited. The guidance team school psychologist shall provide written notice to the parents of the decision regarding evaluation, whether or not the parents attended the meeting.
Recommendations regarding evaluation are forwarded, by the school psychologist, to the special services department to track compliance referral and evaluation timelines. If the building guidance team reviews the request for evaluation and supporting data and does not suspect that the child has a disability, the district may deny the parents' request to evaluate. In this case, written notice, including the reason for the denial and the information used as the basis for the denial, must be given to the parents.
If the determination is that the child should be evaluated, the reviewers shall include information about the recommended areas of evaluation, including the need for further medical evaluation of the student. This information will assist the district in providing parents prior written notice and will assist the district in selecting appropriate evaluation group members. The building's school psychologist is responsible for notifying parents of the results using prior written notice. When the determination is that the child will be evaluated, parent consent for evaluation and consent for release of appropriate records will be sent with the notice.
The building school psychologist/special services department will seek parental consent to conduct the evaluation. The school district is not required to obtain consent from the biological parent if:
- The student is a ward of the state and does not reside with a parent, and
- The parent cannot be located, or their rights have been terminated; or
- Consent for an evaluation is given by an individual appointed by a judge to represent the student.
When the parents provide consent, the district shall select an evaluation group. The evaluation group is to complete the evaluation with 35 school days after parents' consent, unless
- The parents and district agree in writing to extending the timeline, or
- The parent fails or refuses to make the student available for the evaluation; or
- The student enrolls in another school district after the evaluation is begun but before completion and the parent and new district have an agreement for completion of the evaluation
If a parent does not provide consent, the school psychologist notifies the district’s special education administrator(s). District special education administrative staff will make a determination as to whether the district wishes to use mediation to seek agreement to evaluate or file a due process hearing to override the parent’s refusal to consent. If the parents do not provide written informed consent and the district does not use mediation or due process, the school psychologists will provide the parents with prior written notice informing the parents that the district cannot proceed with the evaluation to determine eligibility and is not responsible for providing special education and related services without an initial evaluation to determine eligibility.