Eligibility and Assessment
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students ages 3 and up are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) in the U.S. school system. A student may be eligible to be evaluated to see if they should be classified as a “student with a disability.” This is the first step in building out an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. IEP is for students K to 12, and 504 Plans go from K to college levels. Parents, legal guardians, physicians, therapists, and the school system can ask to evaluate a student.
If the student is eligible, a number of different options may be available. The placement in these programs will depend on the nature of the student’s unique needs. All of the services, resources, and programs offered at the public school are free to students and their families.
Some Reasons Why a Student Could be Evaluated:
- A student has trouble following directions and finishing their work, so the teacher recommends a student be evaluated.
- A student is showing problematic behavioral issues and is struggling in school.
- A student is struggling with stuttering and/or having trouble pronouncing words or sounds.
- A student is suffering from a recent traumatic brain injury they received at soccer practice.
- A student has partial blindness and is having trouble navigating the classroom.
- A student is reading well below grade level.
- A student is able to read fluently but unable to comprehend.
IEP: This law covers 13 categories of disability. To get an IEP, a student must be eligible under one of those categories, and students with learning disabilities should fall into one of those categories. An IEP evaluation includes assessments of the following areas:
- Social and emotional development
- Cognitive ability
- Academic performance
- Communication skills
- Motor skills
504 Plans: For these plans, the student doesn’t need a full evaluation; just show they have a qualifying disability. The evaluation might include:
- A review of the student’s work
- A review of his medical records and evaluation reports
- Direct observation
- Interview with the student, parent, and school personnel
- Other assessments
What Rights Do Students and Families Have?
All students who attend a US government-funded school have the right to be evaluated for a disability. If a student is found eligible, either under a 504 Plan or an IEP, then appropriate services and accommodations will be provided by the school district.
When Should Someone Seek the Services of a Special Education Attorney?
If a school is refusing to evaluate a student or there is a disagreement about an IEP or 504 plan, then this could be a time to seek the advice of a special education attorney. Learn more about disputes with the school district here.
Here’s How We Can Help
The Law Offices of Jennifer Chang believe in protecting students’ rights to a safe and equal opportunity education under California laws. If your child is denied services, our attorneys will fight vigorously on your family’s behalf. Jennifer Chang has offices in California in Los Angeles, Buena Park, and San Jose.