DC Public Schools


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Determining If K-12 Students Need Special Education

1. Your child is struggling in school. Determining if a child may have a disability

You or a school professional notices that your child is struggling academically or behaviorally in school and suspects he or she may have a disability.

2. Meet with the School’s RTI Support Team

Contact your school to schedule a meeting to inform them of your concerns and discuss supports through Response to Intervention (RTI). Strategies will be developed to gather more information about your child academically or behaviorally and their response to those supports.

3. If your child is still struggling academically or behaviorally

If you do not think the RTI supports are meeting your child's needs, you can discuss this with the RTI Support team to request a special education evaluation for your child. Once you make this request or if the school decides that its strategies have been exhausted, you will be contacted by your school's special education point of contact, (ex: LEA Representative Designee, Psychologist, Special Education Coordinator (SEC) etc.) to discuss the evaluation process for Special Education.

4. Your child is evaluated

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team will meet with you to discuss your concerns and review the information from response to intervention. If the team has determined that your child should be evaluated, you will be asked to sign a consent for evaluation. Once you provide consent, your child will be evaluated and may receive specific tests to inform the team.

The evaluation will be specifically tailored to your child and may involve observations, interviews, reviewing report cards, and the administering of tests by the IEP team.

5. Eligibility is determined

The IEP team meets to review the assessments, if any were done, and determines if your child is eligible for Special Education services.

6. If your child is found eligible for services

If your child is found to be a child with a disability who will need special education and related services because of that disability, your child will be eligible for special education services. Once your child is found eligible for services, the IEP team will meet within 30 days to write an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child.

7. IEP meeting is held and IEP is written

A meeting is held to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child. This is done following the eligibility meeting.

The IEP team (which includes you as the parent) talks about the child’s needs and creates the Initial IEP. Your child’s services and educational supports through an Individualized Education Program (IEP), will be put in place once you provide consent for the initial provision of special education services.

8. Services begin

The IEP will be implemented at your child’s neighborhood school or the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) that can meet your child’s needs as outlined in the IEP.

9. Progress is measured

At least once a year, the IEP team meets to review your child’s progress and update the goals and services laid out in the plan. Parents are part of the IEP team and are invited to participate in this meeting where they may make suggestions for changes to the IEP.

IEP progress reports are sent quarterly during the school year to inform parents of student progress on the goals outlined in the IEP.

10. Your child is re-evaluated

Every three years, your child is reevaluated to determine if he or she still has a disability and continues to need special education and related services.