Summary of OCISD Responsibilities
OCISD is responsible for identifying, locating, and evaluating all students who are potentially eligible for special education and related services. OCISD’s child find duty to seek parental consent to evaluate a child when it suspects or has reason to suspect that the child has a disability and needs special education services is an affirmative one; a parent is not required to request that OCISD identify and evaluate the child. However, a parent may request an initial evaluation at any time if the parent believes that his or her child is a child with a disability in need of special education and related services.
If a parent submits a written request for an initial evaluation to an OCISD’s director of special education services or to an OCISD administrative employee, OCISD must, by the 15th school day following the date of receipt of the request, provide the parent either:
- prior written notice of its proposal to conduct an evaluation, a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards, and the opportunity to give written consent for the evaluation; or
- prior written notice of its refusal to evaluate, including an explanation of why OCISD refuses to conduct an initial evaluation and the information that was used as the basis for the decision, as well as a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards.
If OCISD proposes to conduct an initial evaluation, OCISD must obtain written parental consent and should promptly complete the initial evaluation report. OCISD must complete the initial evaluation report no later than the 45th school day following the date parental consent is received except in specific situations as outlined in TEC §29.004 and 19 TAC §89.1011(c) and (e).
If, however, OCISD denies the request for an initial evaluation, the parent can challenge this decision by requesting a due process hearing or filing a state complaint to resolve the dispute regarding the child’s need for an evaluation, as explained in the Notice of Procedural Safeguards, which OCISD is required to provide to parents. A third party may also file a special education complaint to address the OCISD’s refusal to evaluate the child for special education eligibility. A parent and OCISD may also agree to engage in no-cost mediation to attempt to resolve their dispute.
As a reminder, it would be inconsistent with IDEA’s evaluation requirements for OCISD to reject a referral and delay provision of an initial evaluation on the basis that a child has not participated in a Response to Intervention (RtI) framework.
Child Find Obligations under IDEA
Child Find Background
Central to IDEA and its implementing regulations is the requirement that all states have policies and procedures in place to ensure that all children with disabilities within the state who are in need of special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated. This duty, referred to as “child find,” includes children with disabilities who are:
- Wards of the state;
- Attending private schools;
- Highly-mobile; and/or
- Suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education, even if they are advancing from grade to grade.
IDEA defines children with disabilities as those children who:
- Have been properly evaluated and determined as having an intellectual disability, a hearing impairment, a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment, serious emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities; and
- Require special education and related services as a result of the disability.
A child who has one of the above-mentioned disabilities is not a child with a disability under IDEA if:
- the child does not require special education and related services due to the disability, or
- the child requires a related service only.
OCISD’s failure to meet IDEA’s child find requirements is a serious matter that could result in denying FAPE to a child who is eligible for special education services. Furthermore, the failure to identify a child may entitle the child to compensatory education or tuition reimbursement.
Dyslexia and/or Related Disorders
Though the child find mandate applies to students with dyslexia and/or related disorders, OSEP found systemic IDEA violations related to this population. Dyslexia is a lifelong disability that manifests differently in individuals. The disability is generally characterized by an insufficient ability to read, spell, and link letters to sounds. Many students who struggle with dyslexia also grapple with co-occurring disorders, such as dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and ADHD.
In its report, OSEP found that students with dyslexia are often evaluated and accommodated under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act regardless of students’ potential need for specialized instruction under IDEA. OCISD is reminded that, if a student is suspected to have dyslexia and/or a related disorder and a need for special education services, they must refer the student for an initial evaluation in accordance with 34 C.F.R. §§300.300-300.311. LEAs may not deny an initial evaluation or special education services to a student with dyslexia and/or related disorders because he or she does not present a second, potentially disabling condition.
Response to Intervention Strategies
As stated in the Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process, a child does not need to advance through each tier of an RtI system before a referral for special education is made. Furthermore, OSEP has advised that it would be inconsistent with the evaluation provisions of IDEA for an LEA to reject a referral and delay an initial evaluation on the basis that a student has not participated in an RtI framework. Once it is apparent that general education interventions are not sufficient to address a student’s difficulty in the general classroom, LEA personnel must initiate a referral.
OCISD is reminded that parents may also request a referral at any time regardless of whether the child is receiving interventions through the RtI framework. OSEP has advised that, unless OCISD believes there is no reason to suspect that a child has a disability and is in need of special education services, an evaluation must be conducted within the applicable timeline. If, however, OCISD does not suspect that the child is a child with a disability and denies the request for an initial evaluation, OCISD must provide written notice to the child’s parents explaining why OCISD declines to conduct an initial evaluation and the information that was used as the basis for that decision. The parent may then challenge this decision by requesting a due process hearing under 34 CFR §300.507 or filing a complaint under 34 CFR §300.153 to resolve the dispute regarding the child’s need for an evaluation.
OCISD is reminded that the 85th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 1153 to improve outcomes for struggling learners receiving services through intervention strategies, including the RtI process. Accordingly, during each school year when a child begins receiving assistance through the RtI process, OCISD must provide the child’s parents with written notice containing the following information:
- A reasonable description of the assistance that may be provided to the child, including any intervention strategies that may be used;
- Information collected regarding any interventions in the base tier of a multi-tiered system of supports that has previously been used with the child;
- An estimate of the duration for which the assistance, including through the use of intervention strategies, will be provided;
- The estimated time frames within which a report on the child’s progress with the assistance, including any intervention strategies used, will be provided to the parent; and
- Information about the parent’s right to request, among other things, a special education evaluation at any time.
For more information, contact:
Kimberly Freeman, District RtI/504 Coordinator, by email at email@example.com or by phone at 903-968-3300 Ext.1224
To request special education testing, contact:
Teddy Ott Director of Special Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (903)968-3300 Ext. 1208