Referral and Evaluation Process
What is a referral?
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 may be in need of special education services.
Who can make a referral?
Parents, school personnel, and agencies concerned with the welfare of students can all make referrals.
How do I refer my child?
The school district has twenty calendar days (excluding school holidays but not summer vacation) after receiving the written referral to hold a meeting to decide whether an evaluation will be conducted. This meeting is known as an Initial Identification and Planning Meeting.
At this meeting, if a decision is made to evaluate the student, the Child Study Team will develop an Evaluation Plan where the nature and scope of testing will be decided. Upon completion of all of the evaluations (within ninety days of parental consent), an Eligibility (Classification) meeting will be held.
The Child Study Team, in conjunction with the parents, teachers and related service providers, will determine whether the child is eligible for special education and/or related services. The Child Study Team will then hold an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting where the IEP is developed. The Eligibility and IEP meetings can be combined. However, should the parents not consent to moving forward with an IEP at the Eligibility Meeting, an IEP meeting must then be held within thirty calendar days.
If a student is found not to meet the state requirements/guidelines for eligibility for special education and related services, then the student will be referred back to the Intervention and Referral Services (I&RS) committee. The I&RS committee will again work with the general education staff as well as the student’s family, to try and meet this child’s academic and/or behavioral needs.
It is important to note that a Child Study Team evaluation is primarily to:
- Determine eligibility for special education and related services
- Determine programming needs for the student through special education
There are fourteen categories of disabling classifications defined in the New Jersey Administrative Code (this code outlines how districts are to implement State law as it pertains to the requirements and procedures for special education and related services) that permit a student to be eligible for special education and related services. There are specific guidelines for each category that the Child Study Team is required to meet in order for a student to be eligible for special education services. Special education and related services are not permitted for students who are not identified as having a specific, legally defined disability, which negatively impacts the student’s educational performance and which required special education.