Making a Referral for Special Education and Understanding the Evaluation Process
A child must be evaluated by the school district to determine if the child is eligible for an educational disability in the State of Missouri. The special education process begins with the parent or district making a referral for special education evaluation.
How do I make an initial referral? (including Private School referrals)
Parents may request their child be evaluated to determine if their child is a student with a disability. This request must be made to a certificated staff member of CPS. Referrals may be made verbally or in writing. If there is a question about whether a parent is actually making a referral for evaluation, someone from the school or evaluation team must contact the parent within two school days to clarify.
The district must provide Procedural Safeguards to the parent/guardian within 5 days of receiving the official referral. Procedural Safeguards outline your rights and responsibilities as the parent of the child with a disability as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Missouri State Plan for Special Education.
Once the referral is made, the district has 30 days to determine if a disability is suspected.
If a disability is NOT suspected, the district must provide a Notice of Action to the parents indicating the district refuses to conduct an evaluation as they do not suspect an educational disability. While special education services will not be offered, your child's learning needs may be supported through regular education interventions. The team may go beyond the 30 days when there is an excessive absence on the part of the student, snow days, or school breaks such as summer break, winter break, etc. Additionally, your child may be eligible for 504 plan if there is a qualifying medical disability and your child requires accommodations to access his educational environment.
If the district suspects a disability, they must conduct a "Review of Existing Data" within 30 calendar days of the referral.
A review of existing data collects relevant information from the child's educational records as well as information from the child's teacher(s) and parents regarding various areas of the child's functioning in order to determine what areas may need to be formally evaluated. At this point the team has already determined they suspect a disability and a Notice of Action must be presented to the parents for consent to test. The Notice of Action will explain the district proposes to conduct an evaluation and will include an evaluation plan outlining specific areas the district would like to assess. The district can NOT begin administering assessments until the parent has given written consent (original signature on the notice of action) for evaluation. The parent can revoke this consent at any time.
Once consent by the parent is received the evaluation process can take up to 60 days. Students are assessed within the school day. There are a few situations where the evaluation team is legally allowed to extend the 60-day timeline, but the reasons must be documented in the Evaluation Report. The team may go beyond the 60 days when there is an excessive absence on the part of the student, snow days, or school breaks such as summer break, winter break, etc.