Referral Forms for Starting Special Education

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Special education referral forms are some of the first official special education documents you will encounter as your child begins the eligibility process, which involves several steps.

Starting the Eligibility Process for Special Ed

When you request that the school consider evaluating your child, this is called making a referral.

Typically, it is best for you to send your request to the school administrator in writing.

Your school will hold an IEP team meeting to discuss the referral, and you may be asked to help fill out the special education referral form. Special education referral forms can be confusing, especially when you're in the middle of a meeting and trying to keep track of what is being said and written.

There is no national form used by all states. Some states have required forms, and others do not. In fact, your child's school district may have its own unique form. However, for practical reasons, most forms have some common characteristics.

As you look over the forms, think about the types of information you would need to complete a similar form for your child at school. If possible, gather those records before the meeting. This will help the referral process go more smoothly and could speed up the process. Keep these sample forms in a binder for future reference.

As always, preparing for the IEP team meeting in advance will help you focus more during the meeting and increase your ability to advocate effectively for your child.

If the committee needs more information before it can move forward, it must ensure this information is gathered before continuing with the referral. For example, the team may plan for a pre-referral screening for vision, hearing, or other problems could be affecting your child's learning.

The IEP team will request that you sign a consent form for the evaluation.

From the date you sign the consent form, the school district has 60 school days to complete the evaluation and meet again to discuss results. Remember, if things do not go well in the IEP meeting, you do have options.

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.