The school will assemble a team to perform a “big picture” evaluation of the child. The team must look at any and all areas of the child that would relate to the suspected disability. These areas may include: 1) health 2) social skills and emotional status 3) general intelligence 4) academic performance 5) communication needs and 6) motor skills. The evaluation must be thorough enough to identify all of the child’s requirements.
Other sources of information the team must review include teacher recommendations, the child’s social or cultural background, the child’s self-help skills, and any other information that helps the team make an accurate decision about whether the child has a disability and needs special services, and what those services should include. The evaluation should take into account all the reasons why a child might be struggling in school.
Once the evaluation is complete, the team must make a two part decision. First, does the child have a disability that affects his/her ability to learn? If “yes,” the team must then move to the second part of the analysis: whether the child needs special education services and support as a result of that disability. The child must meet both criteria to be eligible for special education.
Did you know that children with no learning disability may be entitled to accommodations by the school? A child with a disability who does not need “specially designed instruction” may still need supports or accommodations in the school setting. That child may be eligible for these supports under a law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A child who has a physical or mental disability that “substantially limits” a major life function (like learning, thinking, walking, breathing, seeing, or hearing) may qualify for reasonable accommodations or other support services in the regular classroom.
It is important to know all of your rights as a parent and all the rights of your child. An education attorney can help you make sure the school is providing everything that you and your child are entitled to under the law. Please call our office at 717.299.7342 and speak with Attorney Gerryanne Cauler to discuss your rights and the rights of your child.
~Gerryanne P. Cauler, Esquire