Don’t Let Your School Get Away with Denying an Evaluation to Your Child

Boy on School StepsEvery so often the government takes a powerful stance on the side of the less powerful.  January 21, 2011 was one of those moments.  On that date the United States Department of Education released a memo to the State Directors of Special Education stating that schools cannot deny or delay a parent’s request for a psycho-educational evaluation of their child if the parent and the school believe that the child may be eligible for special education services.  It is pretty unusual for the US Dept. of Ed to issue a memo like that, and it must be that my experience in Florida of parents being routinely denied evaluations in the name of something called “Response to Intervention” (RtI) is typical nationwide.

What this means:  So, if you think or know that your child has a disability and is struggling in school, and your school official is telling you that they “don’t do evaluations anymore” or “we’re still observing him” or “we’re not ready for that yet”  etc., do not accept “no” for an answer!  Do This:  Tell him or her that you are officially requesting an evaluation and that is your right, and if they want to deny your request they have to put it in writing.  They have to give you a written notice explaining their refusal to conduct an initial evaluation.  As a practical matter, in order to get them to issue that notice you’ll need what’s called a “student study team meeting.”

What Could Happen:  They will either go ahead with the evaluation at which point you need to sign your consent to it in writing or they’ll give you a written notice of refusal.  If you get a notice of refusal, you can pursue mediation or a hearing in administrative court.  If they agree to the evaluation, they have 60 days to complete the evaluation after you sign your consent.

19 Replies to “Don’t Let Your School Get Away with Denying an Evaluation to Your Child”

  1. Courtney Sandoz

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    Reply
  2. Christeen Pyron

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  3. Kellee Kida

    Thanks a lot for your efforts to have put these things together on this weblog. Michael and that i very much liked your input through the articles over certain things. I’m sure that you have a variety of demands with your schedule so the fact that an individual like you took as much time just like you did to guide people just like us through this article is actually highly prized.

    Reply
  4. Elle Kay

    Hi all, I am a doctoral student getting my doctorate in School Psychology (Final semester). I wanted to add that the 60 day time line actually begins the day you hand in written request of your desire to have your child evaluated. Which, as you can imagine can be troublesome for the school psychologist if the office lady takes three days to give it to us. It’s always best to go directly to the school psychologist when you have concerns that your child may have special needs.
    I know that waiting can be worrisome and annoying but that waiting time is really our data collecting time. It helps us make a stronger case for your child. That being said you absolutely have the right to request an evaluation if you suspect a disability and you have a right to be happy with the evaluation (Procedural safeguards). Some parents get upset that their child is getting b’s and c’s and demand to have them tested for a learning disability, while there are a line of children waiting that have severe documented disabilities. Either way my advice to you if you truly suspect a disability: Bypass the teacher, the office lady, the principal, go straight to the school psychologist and ask for a meeting/interview to discuss your concerns and request an evaluation. We are advocates for the child’s successful learning! The reason I got into the field was to have every last child with a disability proper placed and learning to the best of their ability. We care. A lot!

    Reply
  5. Wendy4 Kids

    Get an independent Neurocognitive evaluation by a qualified doctor with experience. The schools usually have a list, but you have as right as a parent to take your child anywhere you want for an evaluation. These evaluations are usually more comprehensive than a schools evaluation.

    Reply
  6. Pam P

    I wish I had known Elle Kay years ago. I had no idea of exactly who at my son’s school I should ask about having him tested. For YEARS suspected he’s both gifted and learning disabled, but because he can compensate and pass all of his subjects, although he struggles visibly to do so, they just ignored me. I even send letters to the principle certified mail return receipt requested and all I heard was crickets. I finally got fed up and found an advocate who arranged for private testing, because by now I wouldn’t trust any testing the school did anyway. And of course, the results were exactly what I had been blabbering about, and the score sheet looks like shark’s teeth….way up, way down, way up, way down. His IQ is 129. Not quite gifted, but close. And in some areas he’s only in the 4th percentile. I’ve heard about the 2012 Supreme Court Case which upheld that the school is responsible for identifying LD students. I was just able to get an IEP for my son, and they accepted my private testing at face value without my having to hire an attorney, probably because they’re aware of the law. But has anyone ever sued to try and get reimbursed for private testing when the school refused to do ANY testing? I spent $1200 on it, but I don’t want to create an adversarial climate which will make things tougher for my son, and I suspect it will cost me more for a lawyer than the $1200 I spent in the first place.

    Reply
    • AllisonHertogAllisonHertog Post author

      Hi Pam:

      Thanks for writing. Under the IDEA, public schools and districts must do testing when there’s reason to suspect that the student is disabled and needs special education services. If you’re child ultimately ended up with an IEP, they probably met that criteria and should have evaluated him before you had to seek a private evaluation. Before he was evaluated, did you request that he be evaluated by the public school? If you did, and they refused to do so in writing, then you may have a good legal case to get reimbursement for your private evaluation. You should consult with an attorney. I don’t know where you live but you can find one by doing a search in your state at http://www.copaa.org. I work in South Florida if you are located here.

      You bring up a common problem for parents. When schools refuse to evaluate a child, they usually don’t do so in writing. Then the parent has no proof that it was denied. Ask for what’s called a Notice of Refusal so that you could appeal that refusal to a judge.

      Hope that helps.

      Best Regards,

      Allison Hertog, Esq., M.A.
      Founder, Making School Work

      Reply
    • Maribel

      I wish I knew this also. My son was denied an IEP, even though his psychiatrist recommended it. I was given the same excuse, that he passes his exams. Meanwhile.ile my son was struggling. Put him in private school in 6th grade. Because of his conditions he was a victim of bullying. And because I didn’t have an IEP It ended up costing me a large portion of his school tuition. The on
      Y thing Igot for him was a 504 plan. Full scholarship would have cost me nothing, but the school refused to listen to me. Went through embarrassing and humiliating moments due to this. At the long run he got evaluated and was known to have ADHD/bipolar and LD. Who going g to reimburse me for elementary school denials.

      Reply
  7. Pam P

    I’m in NJ. Yes, my son is in public school and I requested he be tested multiple times, in writing, the last request being sent certified mail to the principal. At that time he had a 504 but they weren’t following it. Can you believe I never got ANY response? No phone call, no letter, nothing. So I called the county superintendent’s office who gave me some guidance on who to direct a letter to, (it wasn’t the school psychologist….I can’t remember now who it was) and said if I got no response, to call them back. I then found out that the principal of my son’s school was being transferred out to the township middle school as a vice-principal (I love how they just shuffle the bad apples around because it’s so hard to fire anyone). So I figured before I made another stink again, let me give the new administration a chance, and that year my son had a great teacher who really “got” him, so I let it go. At the beginning of this year I requested a meeting with my son’s new teacher to talk about my concerns and she nodded and yessed me to death, and then a week later it was as if we never had the conversation that we had. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I found the advocate. The advocate, when she went over the testing results and the report with me, told me that they never come right out and say that a kid needs to be classified in these testing reports, but the case of my son’s educational neglect by this school system was so egregious, the report actually went as far as to specify that he needs to be classified. And in the testing facility, the staff actually gave me the card for an educational law attorney that they recommend and said, “Here. You’re probably going to need this.” But the advocate recommended I go into the IEP meeting myself, see how it goes, and if the school balked at classifying my son, then enlist the help of an attorney. So that’s what I did, and they did an IEP without much prodding from me. The only one who resisted was his OT specialist, but I could tell by the looks on the rest of the staff’s faces that they didn’t agree with her either, so we all made pretty short work of her very quickly. I may still have to use that business card if this IEP needs to be tweaked at all, but we’ll see how it goes I guess. At least I got my foot in the door.
    Kind of a funny story here too that wasn’t funny at the time, but my husband and I can laugh about it now, and I’m sure it’s happened to others. When my son was in lower elementary school, before he had his 504, I used to have to attend these “behavior” meetings called IR&S meetings, because if your child causes a teacher’s blood pressure to go up even 1 point, then your child is too much trouble. The meetings would always deteriorate into an atmosphere of “this is what your son is doing, and what are YOU going to do about it Mrs. Mom?” Or my other favorite, “He doesn’t need medication. You’re just not giving him the proper motivation.” The day after the first meeting, DYFS shows up at my door. (That’s NJ’s version of Child Protective Services.) I knew it had to have been the school who called them because of the timing. Of course, the allegations were unfounded, but it’s very upsetting to a parent to have that happen. I found out from my son that the day after the meeting, one of the staff had sat him down and asked him how Mom and Dad discipline him at home, and he told them that sometimes he has to sit in the closet. Now, first of all, we’re talking about a HUGE walk in closet that’s the size of a room. And that was his time-out spot. Well, DYFS shows up to investigate us “locking” our son in a closet. Now, if my son had bruises or injuries or was dirty, then I can understand that the school is a mandatory reporter, but they went on a fishing expedition looking for something they could call DYFS on, because we all know his behavior is all about Mom and Dad, right? Ugh. So I wanted to find out who at school reported this trumped-up stuff, so the next meeting I went to I opened with “Hey, before we get started, I just have one question. Do I have to have some cake and coffee on hand tonight when DYFS shows up again? I just want to make sure I have something to serve them when they get to my house, so I’m not being a bad hostess.” And then I glanced at the faces around the room. I saw this one woman turn beet red and look like she was going to cry. So I had my answer. They never called DYFS on me again.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    I have a question what is the next step after your child is evaluated and found to have below average IQ and may have some other learning disability?
    what is available out there to help this child learn?
    Does the public school system had enough resources?
    Is Mc Kay scholarship help in any way if you decided to keep your child in the public school?

    Reply
    • AllisonHertogAllisonHertog Post author

      Anonymous:

      Thanks so much for reaching out to me. I can definitely answer your questions – though they are complicated. Please contact me at my email address – allisonhertog@gmail.com – so that we can schedule a consultation by phone or in-person.

      Thanks again.

      Allison Hertog

      Reply
  9. Sarah

    OM gosh there is so much to write but little space here. In short this is what happened. My child has had emotional severe anxiety depression ADD-inattentive type, below average in Math and his grades slipped way down. He also has school phobia and social phobias all have been diagnost by his psyciatrists and therapists and I’m disabled myself so I know one can get disability when they have these issues and it was so severe that he couldn’t get up for school. Well, the school refuses to test him and we moved because of the hurricane last year, we were homeless because of it for months. When we finally got an apartment he started a new school and the problem came about again. Well since the school didn’t know him I tried to get him a evaluation for IEP or services with the school and they denied me at the first meeting last May after the stress of them sending me to medication court (my son is 16 now). They put him with home bound is what they call it but it really is not that it is after school for an hour 4 or 5 days a week each day a different subject. When the new school year came Fall 2013, his conditions started up again because they put him in mainstream when they were suppose to put into affect a 504 Plan for the year, they never did after several meetings with guidance, and kept trying to push him into school without testing him they flat out refused it and said I had to get it on my own. I couldn’t find an opening for testing in my area of NJ for months. Now remember my child has diagnosis of ADD, Anxiety, Depression, Social Phobias, is in 10th grade but in the 7th grade level for math, etc and is on meds for his condition for his Psyciatrist. I requested another meeting for Sp Ed or IEP Evaluation in November gave it to the proper person to give to Sp Ed Supervisor. He is on home bound still and they ok’d it until he got testing outside the school and then I sent the test results to the school, during this time my son developed a health issue severe enough to be out of school for a month and a major operation which he was ok by the school due to his surgeon writing a note. He was out for a month. During this time I’m still waiting for months now for a CST meeting. His operation was end of March. His school counselor went on vacation during this time without telling us or having someone take her place for 2 weeks at which time I tried to get in touch with her for actual home school for his education. To no avail no one got back to us and no one cared about my sons education nor did they care or get back to us about the meeting suppose to answer in 20 days. When the counselor came back from vaca she sent me an email, no letter no phone call stating my son is failing all subjects because he doesn’t have enough time in? This should have been told to us alot sooner than it was and I asked what ever happened to the IEP or eval meeting that I sent back in Nov. I get a call took 2 weeks to get a meeting and guess what they the CST denied my son special ed again and said that he had NO problems in emotional domain or educational domain but yet he has all documentation I have (the school only had one evaluation I got independently in front of them, with diagnosis on it) I asked if they would test him and they flatly denied him again and said that they have to exhaust all other outlets in his education (like a 504) before they give him or think about an IEP or special education evaluation. Wow, this is unbelievable. They are constantly putting roadblocks up and I told them I’m going to put in for mediation or have a Due Process Meeting for not following protocol.
    Can anyone please review this and let me know where I can get help on this matter and if they are legally obligated to the FIND CHILD law and if my son has diagnosis from professionals if they can rule on not much. Oh they also said that they tried to contact his old school and they got nowhere. Are they for real? I never had to deal with this before. My child has no disiplinary issues at all. They want to put him back in mainstream next year with 504 but isn’t that defeating the purpose? Are they right about the exhaustion issue in the state of NJ? Please reply back thanks. Are there any Advocates out there to help me, I’m all alone on this. I feel over welmed and frustrated with walls up about my son’s education.

    Reply
    • AllisonHertogAllisonHertog Post author

      Hi Sarah:

      Yes, they are legally obligated under federal law to identify a child with a disability and provide him with specialized instruction and support services. That obligation becomes more difficult if the child is homebound, but it still exists, and they certainly don’t sound like they are making much of an effort to help. I suggest that you contact an attorney in New Jersey. Go to http://www.copaa.org and click on the link to find an attorney/advocate. Then you can search by state for one who specializes in special education.

      Reply
  10. juanita

    I have children that have IEP but they denied to even look at it because it wasnt accurate even tho I explain to them that my brother pass the way and we left to mexico and once we got back we where homeless so my child wasnt recieving survices at school and that I will like for them to do an evaluation on them and they DENIED IT to my children what can I do ??

    Reply
    • AllisonHertogAllisonHertog Post author

      Hi Juanita, where are you located? If they had IEPs before you left the country, it should be much easier to get them his time. You may not have to go through a whole re-evaluation depending upon how long you were away.
      Allison Hertog

      Reply
  11. Veronique Bailey

    For years my verbal request for my son to be evaluated were denied because I work on strategies to support my son and he works very hard despite his challenges and therefore performs average/above average. My son is now going to 5th grade and his disabilities are becoming more and more prominent. A neuorpyschologist identified him as having language acquisition deficits. The dr. recommended I request a neuropsych test be done by the school. I wrote to the school with the request and was denied and told the psychologist would do a battery of psychological testing instead since he does not have a learning disability label. Is this refusal allowed? I do not mind the battery of psychological test I just would like them in addition to the neuropsychologist test.

    Reply

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