THE  SPECIAL  EDUCATION  PROCESS

RECOGNIZING THE NEED

An Overview

The first step in the process is to recognize that a child has a persistent and significant learning and/or behavioral difficulty. This recognition may come from the parents or the child’s teacher. The child’s difficulties are initially addressed with strategies to assist him or her in the general education classroom and at home.

If the child has not yet started school, a written request should be submitted to the Director of Special Services to refer the child for an evaluation. For assistance, call the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center (CPAC) at 800-445-2722.

If the child is receiving Birth to Three Services, the child’s program service coordinator is responsible for assembling a conference to plan for the child’s transition into the district. This transition planning conference, which must include the parents, the child’s birth-to-three service coordinator and a representative from the school district, should occur between 90 days and six months before the child turns three and may occur during the summer.

If the child is already in school, the first step is for the classroom teacher to develop both classroom and at-home strategies to assist him or her in becoming more successful in the general school program. At school, strategies may range from changing where the child sits to providing structured study guides to assist in independent reading assignments. At home, strategies may range from simple activities, such as having the parent sign all completed homework assignments, to more complicated tasks, such as transcribing a child’s tape-recorded assignments into written form. Whatever the strategies, they must be individualized.

If, after a reasonable period of time, the strategies in the classroom and at home are not successful, the teacher or parent should ask for assistance from the Child Study Team. Together, the teacher and the special education staff member(s) will recommend other general education strategies that may be utilized in the general education setting.

If the child’s difficulties persist after the strategies in general education have been implemented, a referral to special education, which will accelerate the process, is in order. Referrals for special education services may come from a variety of sources, including the child’s teachers, parents, pediatricians, mental health care professionals, day care providers,

nursery school teachers or community agencies. Referrals coming from a source other than the child’s teachers or parents require the consent of the parent.

The goal is to determine if the child has a disability that is impacting his or her education. A Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting will be held to decide on the need for appropriate evaluations. These evaluations, along with teacher reports and parental input, are used to determine the child’s present level of functioning and to help determine whether or not the child is eligible for special services. Comprehensive diagnostic assessments and evaluation procedures are provided at no additional cost to the parent, when recommended by the PPT team. Parents may always opt to have an independent evaluation conducted at their own expense.

BRINGING KNOWLEDGE TO THE TABLE

How to Be an Effective Advocate for Your Child

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