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Special Education Evaluations and the Law

After the evaluations, your child's team (includes parents, teacher, service providers, school and independent evaluator, chairperson, child -- if 14 or older -- and anyone else a parent wants to invite, such as outside evaluators or advocates) must meet to decide what, if any, special education services should be provided, and to write an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Your school is supposed to give you copies of its written assessments before that meeting. Ask for explanations of anything you don't understand in those reports before the team convenes.

If you have concerns about the evaluation results or the team's program recommendations, you can request independent evaluations at the school system's expense. You'll need to select a ""qualified"" professional, and -- although it is a good idea to let the system know you are obtaining such an evaluation -- you are not required to notify the school in advance.

In some states like Massachusetts, the law allows parents to obtain an independent evaluation even in an area the school system has not assessed, as long as it relates to an area of suspected need. There is a good argument that this is so under IDEA as well. (See 34 CFR s.503(e) and 34 CFR 330.532(f))



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