Ask the Experts

Evaluate My Child, Already!

“I think my son, who has ADHD, also has a learning disability. He has a 504 Plan that gives him extra time on tests, but he needs help with reading and writing. I asked the school to evaluate him, but nothing has been done yet. Now what?”

The regulations governing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state clearly that children “who are in need of special education and related services [must be] identified, located, and evaluated.” When parents request an evaluation because they believe their child has a disability, the school district must conduct an evaluation in all suspected areas of disability within 60 days, or sooner if your state has a shorter timeline.

Sometimes districts refuse to do an evaluation because they do not believe that a child has a disability. If that is the case with your son, the district must explain to you, in writing, why they believe this and what information they used to reach this decision. You have the right to file a complaint with a state hearing officer to challenge this decision. If the district fails to evaluate and gives no reason for this refusal, you should advise them, in writing, of their failure to comply with the IDEA.

Remember that you always have the right to obtain an independent evaluation at your own expense, and that the district is required to consider its findings.