* Anyone can make a special education referral, which is a way of informing a school or agency that a student may have special learning needs — the parents, teachers, school administrators, anyone who knows the child.
* A completed referral form is given to the principal of the child’s school.
* The referral is given to the local screening committee, made up of the school’s principal or designee, school psychologist, special-education teacher, the parents and the child, if old enough.
* The committee reviews all available information on the child including grades, standardized tests and verbal information presented by those who know the child.
* If the committee suspects the child has a disability, it recommends an evaluation, which can include psychological, educational, socio-cultural, hearing screenings, etc. The evaluation requires the parents’ written permission.
* From there, the referral goes to an eligibility committee, a team of experts in the various fields of special education, who conduct the assessments.
* Based on specific criteria spelled out by the state and federal government, the committee determines if the child falls within one or more of the 13 categories of disabilities.
* If a child is identified having a disability and the parents agree with the findings, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. The team consists of parents, a special-education teacher, a general-education teacher, the principal or designee, determine the areas of need, goals, objectives, types of services the child requires, and where and how best those needs can be met.
* The IEP team meets every year or as necessary to review the education plan created for the child and conducts an evaluation every three years.