Special Services - Referral Services
To determine eligibility, a child must be referred, by either parents or school staff, to the Child Study Team for an evaluation. However, it is required that, to the extent appropriate, interventions through regular education be attempted to remediate the problem(s) and written documentation of the implementation and effectiveness of the interventions be maintained.
A referral is a written request for an evaluation that is given to the school district when a child is suspected of having a disability and might need special education services. Referrals can be made by parents, school personnel, and agencies concerned with the welfare of students, including the New Jersey Department of Education.
If you believe that your child may have a disability, you may refer your child for an evaluation by submitting a written request and brief reason for the referral to:
Kellie Frost, Supervisor of Special Services
Wenonah Elementary School
200 N. Clinton Ave.
Wenonah, NJ 08090
In the referral letter, please include the following information: student’s name, student’s date of birth, student’s home address, reason for concern, parent/guardian contact information, and parent/guardian signature. All referral letters must have a signature.
When should a referral be made?
- Most often, students who present with needs are brought to the attention of the I&RS or RTI committee prior to a referral being made. The committee develops interventions which will address the difficulties that the student is experiencing in the general education classroom. While this preceding step is not required, it is highly suggested. Typically when interventions in the general education classroom are not effective, a referral is made.
Why are there committees like I&RS and RTI?
- The I&RS and RTI committees are in place to assist both general education and special education students. Committees are made up of teachers, administrators, and other relevant school personnel who monitor student’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategies to assist the teacher/school personnel working with the student. Students who make minimal progress are monitored by parent or teacher request. Parents are invited to join I&RS committee meetings; RTI meetings are for school personnel only. At Wenonah Elementary, the RTI committee addresses academic needs in English/Language Arts and Math for grades K-6; the I&RS committee addressed needs that may be academic, behavioral, social, or emotional in grades K-6. Referrals to the Child Study Team tend to be made once committees have determined that additional information may be necessary to assist the student, or if the committee believes that the student may have a disability based on responses to intervention provided.
Does a referral mean my child will receive special education and related services?
- Once a referral is received, the parent/guardian will be contacted by the school and a meeting will be arranged within 20 days of receipt of the referral. This meeting is called the Evaluation Planning meeting. In attendance will be the student’s general education teacher, the three Child Study Team members, parent/guardian(s), and other relevant participants identified by the school or family. The purpose of this meeting is to determine if Child Study Team evaluation is warranted or not; an evaluation may be warranted if the Child Study Team believes the student may have a disabling condition. If an evaluation is warranted, an Evaluation Plan will be developed with the participants. Results of the evaluations will assist in determining if a student is eligible for special education and related services.
What are related services?
- Related services are supportive services that are required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education. Related services include, but are not limited to: speech-language pathology, audiology services, counseling services, (specialized) transportation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, school nurse services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training.
- Not all students who are eligible for special education receive related services. Student who may require related services, but not special education, may receive supports through a 504 Plan.
What is an evaluation?
- An evaluation is the process used to determine whether a student has a disability. A typical evaluation for a student referred to the Child Study Team for the first time is comprised of multiple assessments. Most often, this includes a social assessment, a psychological assessment, and an educational assessment. The Child Study Team, through discussions with parent/guardian(s) and teacher, will determine if other assessments may be required (such as, but not limited to: speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medical assessment). Each assessment must be conducted by a person who has appropriate training, or who is qualified to conduct the assessment through his or her professional license or certification.
What is the procedure if the student is going to be evaluated?
- Once it is determined that a student will be evaluated, specific assessments will be identified. Parent/guardian(s) must sign consent prior to assessments; the district cannot conduct evaluations without a parent/guardian consent; consent may be revoked at any time. Parent/guardian(s) may ask for certain evaluations, or deny consent for certain evaluations. If the school district disagrees with this action, it may invoke a due process hearing. Parent/guardian(s) may choose to obtain private evaluations at their own expense before or during the evaluation process. If the parent/guardian(s) wish to share this information with the Child Study Team, it will be taken into consideration in identifying if the student may be eligible for services.
Can a parent/guardian ask for an evaluation for special education eligibility by an outside agency?
- Parents are entitled to an independent evaluation of their child at no cost if they are in disagreement with the evaluation provided by the district’s Child Study Team. This is called an independent evaluation, and occurs after the district conducted its own evaluation. Independent evaluations are provided at no cost to the parent. It is important that the Child Study Team in the school evaluate the student, since the school evaluators are in preferred situations to observe classes, speak to teachers and be knowledgeable of curriculum delivery in Wenonah. The evaluation process also helps the Child Study Team become more knowledgeable of the student's needs.
I've given my consent for evaluation - now what?
- The district has, from the date of consent, ninety (90) days to complete the necessary evaluations, write a report which details evaluation results, send reports home for parent/guardian review, conduct an eligibility meeting, and conduct an IEP meeting if the student is eligible.
- Upon completion of the evaluations, an eligibility meeting will be scheduled to determine whether the student is eligible for special education and related services. The evaluator will review their findings and answer questions.
- The case manager will discuss the rationale for determination of eligibility or non-eligibility. The first decision is whether the student possesses a disability that adversely affects educational performance and requires special education and related services. If a student is determined to be eligible, an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting may be held or reconvened.
If a student is eligible, does that mean he or she will be in a separate special education class?
- No. Although parental input is utilized in making eligibility determinations, the Child Study Team is responsible for determining eligibility for special education and related services. If a student is determined eligible, a parent/guardian must agree to eligibility. Together, the Child Study Team, parent/guardians(s), and teachers will develop a program that meets the student's needs ( Least Restrictive). The federal and state law compels schools to consider programs where students will receive the majority of their services within a general education classroom.
What makes a child eligible for services?
To be eligible for special education and related services: (1) A student must have a disability according to one of the eligibility categories; (2) The disability must adversely affect the student’s educational performance; and (3) The student must be in need of special education and related services (New Jersey Department of Education, 2009).
What are the special education classifications?There are 13 categories for special education eligibility:
- Auditorily Impaired (AI)
- Autistic (AUT)
- Cognitively Impaired (CI)
- Communication Impaired (CI)
- Emotionally Disturbed (ED)
- Multiply Disabled (MD)
- Orthopedically Impaired (OI)
- Other Health Impaired (OHI)
- Preschool Disabled (PD)
- Social Maladjustment (SM)
- Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Visually Impaired (VI)
Does a student need an IEP for speech services?
- Yes. Some students requires services for articulation only, which is provided by the speech/language specialist. A speech-only IEP (referred to as ESLS - Eligible for Speech and Language Services) is not the same as an IEP which provides special education supports.
- An IEP (Individualized Education Program) is a legal document that is developed for the student who is eligible to receive special education and related services. This meeting, and parental consent, is required before any special education services can commence. The purpose of the first IEP meeting is to determine the student’s current educational status and develop a program designed to meet the student’s unique needs. This meeting may be held immediately after the eligibility meeting. The IEP team (made up of: parent/guardian(s), Child Study Team members as well as case manager, general education teacher, special education teacher, and relevant school personnel) may create an IEP from a blank form or offer a draft that will be reviewed and edited as a team at the meeting.
- The student’s present levels of educational performance (referred to as a PLAAFP) will be discussed, including how the student's disability affects involvement and progress in the general education curriculum, including preschool children. Also discussed will be Child Study Team evaluations, student performance on state assessments (where appropriate), teacher feedback, review of student work samples including district assessments.
- The IEP will also document any parent concerns and needs in the following areas: medical, adaptive, communication, vision, hearing, social/emotional, behavioral, extra-curricular, regressions, participation in state assessments, school modifications and/or accommodations
- While IEPs also call for other areas to be discussed when a student is age 14 and above, that does not apply to students at Wenonah Elementary.