Accessing Special Ed Services
Special education services are accessed through a process of Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility.For School-Aged Children
REFERRALA parent, teacher, school counselor or others involved in a student’s education, who believe that a student may require services can make a referral to the School Support Team (S-Team) or the RTI2 Data Team. Referral to the team will not necessarily result in referral to special education. The school district is required to seek ways to meet the unique educational needs of all children within the general education program prior to referring a child to special education. The team develops a plan of instructional interventions and accommodations to meet the student’s needs within the general program. The team may determine that a student will be formally referred to determine eligibility for special education services.
When a student is formally referred, the IEP Team is formed and develops the evaluation plan. The required members of the IEP Team include: parent(s), general education teacher, special education teacher, an assessment specialist (often a school psychologist), and a local education authority/LEA (often a school administrator). Parental permission is required for all initial evaluations and placements. The school district has sixty (60) calendar days from the time permission is obtained to complete the evaluation and determine eligibility.
The determination of eligibility for special education services is two-pronged. After the completion of the evaluation, the IEP team meets to determine whether the evaluation results indicate that the student has one or more disabilities and whether due to the disability the student requires special education services to make progress in the general education program. Disability categories and criteria are set by state and federal special education law. Students must be reevaluated for eligibility every three years.
TERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY and services
The child’s eligibility to receive special education and related services from a local school district may be terminated if an IEP team evaluation shows that:
- The child no longer meets Tennessee eligibility standards;
- The child no longer requires special education and related services;
- The child graduates with a high school diploma;
- The child reaches 22 years of age before the start of a school year;
- Parents request in writing that the child be removed from special education (in which case, the LEA must stop all special education and related services and return the child to general education).