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If it seems your child is falling behind in school and is having a hard time understanding what is being taught, meet with your child’s teacher to determine what could be done to help. Often, additional help or accommodations are all that is needed to help your child be successful in school. A teacher may also ask to begin the RTI process for your child if other ways to help are not working. This means that the teacher, you, and other school personnel will meet together throughout the year to monitor the progress of your child and discuss further accommodations. Sometimes this may be an extra math or reading class, one-on-one time, or modifications.
If these ideas do not work, and the school personnel think your child may qualify, your child could be tested for a learning disability. Click here to see the full RTI Process.
There may be a time when you feel your child needs to be tested for a learning disability sooner than later. If this is the case, there are legal rights that parents have to get their child tested sooner. According to the IDEA regulations, a parent may request an initial evaluation to determine if the child is a child with a disability.
IDEA Regulations (from idea.ed.gov):
1. Add a provision regarding initiation of a request for initial evaluation. Consistent with the consent requirements in 34 CFR 300.300, either a parent of a child or a public agency may initiate a request for an initial evaluation to determine if the child is a child with a disability.
[34 CFR 300.301(b)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(a)(1)(B)]
Find a sample letter to request testing here: Learning Disabilities Association of America.
Send the letter to the school district office and your child’s principal. Make sure to have it sent by certified mail or have it date stamped and signed for when delivering it. If your child attends a private school, IDEA says to send the letter to the district’s special education director in the district of the private school (as opposed to the district where you live).
The school district must perform the evaluation within a timely matter.
2. Add a 60-day timeline to complete initial evaluation (unless the state has an established timeline).The initial evaluation:
• Must be conducted within 60 days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation or, if the State establishes a timeframe within which the evaluation must be conducted, within that timeframe; and
The 60 day timeline is a federal recommendation. Check with the state department of education under the Division of Special Education to find out the timeline for your state.
If your child is tested and the district says they do not qualify for special education services, you still have rights. Visit Learning Disabilities Association of America for more information.
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