The Special Education Process

What is a referral?

A referral is a written request for an evaluation that is given to the school district when a child is suspected of having a disability and might need special education and related services. In most instances, the student suspected of having a disability should first be referred to the Intervention and Referral Services Team. If as a result of the interventions recommended by the team, the student continues to experience difficulties in the general education classroom, the I&RS Team will determine the next course of action which could include amending the Action Plan, determining 504 eligibility, or referring the student to the Child Study Team for evaluation. Students between the ages of 3 and 21 suspected of having an educational disability may be referred to the Child Study Team for an evaluation.

How is a child referred to the Child Study Team?

If you believe that your child may have an educational disability, you may refer your child for an evaluation by submitting a written request to:

Mr. James Cooney, Director of Special Services
River Dell High School
55 Pyle St.
Oradell, NJ 07649

Please add the following items in your correspondence when requesting an evaluation:

  • Your child's full name and date of birth,
  • A brief explanation of why you would like your child evaluated,
  • A copy of any reports you may have, if your child has been previously evaluated,
  • Your contact information including address, phone number, and email; and
  • An original signature on your letter.

What is the process after the referral is received by the district?

Once the referral has been made, the Case Manager has twenty (20) calendar days (excluding school holidays) to schedule an Identification Meeting. The necessary personnel expected to attend this meeting would be the parent, a social worker, psychologist, learning disabilities teacher-consultant, classroom teacher, and speech and language specialist (if the suspected disability included that area or the child was age 3-5).

Are students automatically assessed when a Child Study Team evaluation is requested?

Once a request for a Child Study Team evaluation is made an Initial Planning/Identification Meeting must be scheduled. At that meeting, it is determined if a Child Study Team Evaluation is warranted and if so an Evaluation Plan is developed. If the team determines an evaluation is not warranted, they may refer to the school's I&RS committee, requesting that the I&RS committee amend the current Action Plan and/or refer the child to the 504 committee.

What is an evaluation?

An evaluation is the process used to determine whether your child has a disability. This process includes a review of any relevant data, and the individual administration of any tests, assessments and observations of your child. For an initial evaluation, at least two child study team members and other specialists, as required or as determined necessary, must participate. A minimum of two assessments of your child are needed to determine eligibility for special education and related services. Each assessment must be conducted by a person who has appropriate training, or who is qualified to conduct the assessment through his or her professional license or certification. Once it is determined that assessments are necessary an initial evaluation plan is developed and the parent/guardian gives written permission. The district then has ninety (90) days to complete the necessary evaluations. Within the ninety (90) days an Eligibility Conference is scheduled where the evaluations are interpreted and it is determined if the student is eligible for special education and/or related services. The school district must provide a copy of the evaluation report(s) and documentation to be used to make a determination of eligibility to the parent (or adult student, when applicable) not less than 10 days prior to the meeting.

How is eligibility for special education and/or related services determined?

When the evaluation is completed, eligibility is determined collaboratively at a meeting according to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.3(k). To be eligible for special education and related services a student must have a disability according to one of the eligibility categories according to 6A:14-3.5(c). Furthermore, the disability must:

  1. Adversely affect the student's educational performances; and
  2. The student must be in need of Special Education and Related Services.

What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

After your child is determined to be eligible for special education and related services, a meeting will be held to develop your child's IEP. The IEP is a written plan that describes in detail your child's special education program. The IEP should describe how your child currently performs and your child's specific instructional needs. The IEP must include detailed and measurable annual goals and short-term objectives or benchmarks.

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