Parents should understand that getting academic services isn’t a given. The school sometimes determines that a child is not eligible for services (see Step 6). A parent should also be clear that the school isn’t assessing your child for ADHD, LD, or something else, but determining if he is eligible for accommodations and services.
To get the ball rolling, send a letter to your district’s head of special education, with a copy to your child’s principal. Some schools have a 504 or IEP application available online or in the guidance counselor’s office that you may need to fill out and include with your letter.
1. Include any backup documentation -- a diagnosis from a doctor, notes and e-mails from your child’s teacher, and copies of schoolwork or exams that you have put in your file.
2. Explain your child’s academic challenges and the measures the teacher and you have taken.
3. Request an assessment for a suspected LD, as well as social or emotional challenges or speech and language problems, if appropriate. Remember that accommodations can also address behavioral problems that prevent your child from learning in the classroom.
4. Send the letter by certified mail or hand-deliver it and request a receipt. You need documentation that it was received, so the process can go forward.
Should I apply for a 504 Plan or an IEP?
You do not need to choose between an IEP or a 504 Plan at this point. When the school evaluates your child for services, the school team will determine which law and services best apply to your child.
Next: The Evaluation