Updated: Jun 8
Are you wondering how to write a letter requesting a special education evaluation?
Have you noticed a pattern of missing assignments, late work and frustration with school that goes beyond what you saw with other children?
If this is this case, it may be time to requesting a free assessment to be done through the school.
What are the benefits of special education?
Support for learning differences
Students get to work with teachers trained in learning differences
Reduces out of pocket costs for tutoring and specialized help
Allows for accommodations such as taking tests in separate setting and extended time
Allows for the demystification of learning challenges
Step 1: Fill in this template
The first step to obtaining an IEP is to determine if your child is eligible for special education services. To do this, you need to request that your child be evaluated by the school, for free. Here is a sample letter that you can use to make the initial request for an evaluation:
Delivered Via: [Fax, Registered Mail, In person]
From: [Parent/Guardian Name(s)] [Street Address] [City/State/Zip] [Telephone Number(s)] [E-mail (if applicable)]
To: [Director of Special Education] [School District Name] [District Street Address] [City/State/Zip] [Telephone Number (if known)] [Fax Number (if known)] [E-mail (if known)]
On Behalf of: [Child/Student Name] [Student Birth Date] [Student School]
My child has not been functioning well in school and I am concerned about my child’s educational progress.
I am writing to make a parent referral for assessment for special education services as allowed under the Child Find obligations of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and California Education Code Secs. 56029, 56301, 56302, and 56321(a) and 5 California Code of Regulations (C.C.R.) Sec. 3021.
My child may be eligible for special education assistance. I am requesting that my child be given a comprehensive assessment by the school district in all areas of suspected disability, and that an IEP meeting be scheduled.
Below are some of my concerns related to my child’s educational progress, and information about my child’s known and/or suspected disabilities:
[List or describe concerns here related to the child’s suspected and/or known disabilities and adverse educational performance impact, which may include any of these, for example: academic performance, learning challenges, health impacts, memory, psychological processing, social, behavioral, expressive or receptive communication, social skills, fine and gross motor, mental health, or other areas of concern.]
As part of the assessment process, I also request that my child be assessed under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to determine whether he should be identified as handicapped pursuant to that law and to determine what, if any, accommodations might be required in his educational program in the event that he does not qualify for special education services, or in addition to special education services.
I also request that the school district’s 504 Coordinator be present at the IEP meeting to discuss the results and recommendations of assessment.
In addition to the typical school district evaluations, I specifically request that the school district conduct the following evaluations of my child if listed here:
[List specific evaluations requests here if you have some]
I understand that Response-to-Intervention (RTI) is now allowed under IDEA 2004 as one evaluative tool that may assist in determining the presence of specific learning disability (SLD) but that, according to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Office of Special Education and Programs (OSEP) memo of 1/27/2011, “it would be inconsistent with the evaluation provisions at 34 CFR Sections 300.301-300.111 for an LEA [school district] to reject a referral and delay provision of an initial evaluation on the basis that a child has not participated in an RTI framework,” and that the school district has an “obligation to ensure that evaluations of children suspected of having a disability are not delayed or denied because of implementation of an RTI strategy.” A Response to Intervention (RTI) Process Cannot Be Used to Delay-Deny an Evaluation for Eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)(PDF)
If the school district asks to conduct a Student Study Team (SST) process in response to my parent referral for IDEA evaluation, I will consider such a request so that my child can receive help and intervention while the IDEA evaluations are ongoing. Understand, however, that if I give my approval for a SST, I will not and do not waive my child’s right to comprehensive assessment under the district’s “Child Find” mandate.
I understand that schools are required only to “consider” general education interventions before delivering special education services, and that evaluation is not services. I also understand that the school district is not required to “exhaust” general education interventions; that there is no exhaustion standard in IDEA; and that IDEA Child Find requires evaluation when there is suspected disability.
I look forward to receiving an Assessment Plan within 15 calendar days for my review and consent so that evaluations can proceed. If the district refuses to evaluate I expect to receive Prior Written Notice (PWN) that meets the requirements of the IDEA.
I look forward to evaluations being completed promptly and an IEP meeting held, at a mutually agreeable time and place, within 60 calendar days of my consent to the Assessment Plan, to discuss results and plan for my child’s supported education.
Please ensure that we schedule an IEP meeting to ensure that I receive copies of all assessment reports at least 5 business days before the IEP meeting that will be scheduled to discuss them so that I will have adequate time to review and prepare any questions or parent concerns I may have for the IEP team.
Copies to: [School Principal and other members of child’s educational team as needed]
Enclosed: [list attachments to this letter you may want to include to help the district understand child’s suspected disabilities, needs, diagnoses and/or disability(ies) if known]
Who should I send this letter to?
Your school's principal
Your students counselor
Your students general education teacher
What should I do if I don't hear back from the school?
After four school days, if you have not heard anything, send a follow up email to the school.
ALWAYS send these things in writing to ensure they are following the special education timelines.
Sometimes, the school may deny your request for an evaluation. If this happens, refer to this article to learn what to do next.
What do I do if the school denies my request for an evaluation?
If the school denies your request for an evaluation, review this article for next steps:
Take the Next Step in Guiding Your Child's Success: Connect with an Executive Function Specialist
After reading this informative article, you may have gained a clearer understanding of the benefits of special education and the initial steps involved in requesting an evaluation for your child. It can be a complex journey to navigate alone, and we understand that the pursuit of your child's educational success is of utmost importance to you.
This is where the Executive Function Specialists come in. With our experienced team, we provide online coaching that empowers students in middle school, high school, and college to overcome procrastination, disorganization, and anxiety.
We focus on teaching vital skills such as time management, prioritization, and communication, instilling motivation, preparedness, and confidence in our students.
Furthermore, if you're a special education teacher, school psychologist, or professional looking to enhance your ability to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges, consider training with the Executive Function Coaching Academy. We offer comprehensive training programs tailored to equip you with the knowledge and techniques to make a real impact on your students' lives.
Don't let the complexities of the special education system deter you from taking the necessary steps to secure the best educational path for your child. Together, we can pave the way for their future success.
Ready to take the next step in your child's education journey, or in your professional development? Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in this process. Let's work together to transform the lives of our students, one day at a time.
About the author
Sean G. McCormick is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.
He also founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains special education teachers, school psychologists and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges.
Sean is regularly featured across media channels for his expertise on executive function, ADHD and special education.