- Scotch Plains-Fanwood Public Schools
- Referral to the Child Study Team
Special Education Process
What is a Referral?
A referral is the first step in the special education process. It is a formal written request that a student be evaluated by the CST to determine whether a student is eligible for special education and related services or by the speech/language specialist to determine whether a student is eligible for speech services.
Who May Refer?
Students may be referred to the CST or for a speech evaluation by instructional staff, school administration, and/or parent(s)/guardian(s). Parent(s)/guardian(s) should submit their written request with an original signature to the Director of Special Services. School staff should submit concerns to the school's Intervention and Referral Servies committee. The district does not accept email requests.
Parental referrals need to include parent contact information, childs name, date of birth, school attending, and nature of concern.
When Should a Student Be Referred?
Students who present with academic and/or behavioral difficulties are first brought to the attention of the Intervention and Referral Services (I &RS) Committee. This committee will create interventions to address educational difficulties in the general education classroom. Interventions in the general education classroom should be attempted prior to a CST or speech referral.
When interventions in the general education classroom are not appropriate for the student or when interventions are not effective, the student will be referred to the CST or speech/language specialist for evaluation.
Once a Student is Referred, What Happens Next?
Once a referral is received, the parent(s)/guardian(s) will be invited to a meeting that will be scheduled within 20 days of receipt of the referral (excluding school vacations other than summer vacation).
Based on a review of available information about the student's educational progress (and additional review of records in the student’s cumulative file), a decision will be made at this meeting whether a CST or speech evaluation is warranted. If an evaluation is warranted, the nature and scope of the CST or speech evaluation will be discussed. If it appears that the problem can be alleviated with interventions in the general education program and the student has not participated in the I&RS process, there may be a decision not to conduct an evaluation, but to refer the student to the I&RS Committee for development of interventions, suggestions for other interventions for the parent(s)/guardian(s) to pursue, or to refer the student to the 504 Committee. If the student is already in the I&RS process and an evaluation is not warranted, the I&RS plan can continue or be adjusted.
The classroom teacher and the (I&RS) Committee may recommend other strategies and building level support that can be utilized in the general education setting. If the student's difficulties persist after the strategies and/or services have been implemented, a referral to the CST may be made. A referral is a written document that has been dated by the Director of Special Services who receives the referral. This provides a start date for the first timeline.
The CST will convene a meeting to consider the evaluation within 20 days from the dated receipt of this request. The parent(s)/guardian(s) and referring teacher will meet with the entire CST at this time to review the student's needs and jointly determine if an evaluation should occur. Meeting attendees will be asked to sign an attendance sheet.
If there is an agreement to perform an evaluation, a written plan for the evaluation is developed at the meeting, describing the nature and scope of the evaluation. Written consent for an evaluation is required by the parent(s)/guardian(s). This consent for evaluation can be provided at the conclusion of the meeting or the parent(s)/guardian(s) may wish to take additional time before providing written consent. Evaluations can only begin after the parent(s)/guardian(s) has provided written consent. The district has ninety (90) days from the time written consent is provided to complete the entire evaluation, eligibility, and placement process. Preschool aged students should complete the evaluation and eligibility process in time to receive services upon attaining the age of three.
Parent(s)/Guardian(s) will receive written notice of the results of the evaluation planning meeting. A decision may be made that an evaluation may not be warranted. Students may be referred back to the I&RS Committee or for other community or school based services.
Identification / Evaluation Planning Meeting
The identification/evaluation planning meeting concludes the referral process to the CST. If the decision is made at the identification/evaluation planning meeting that an evaluation is warranted and signed parental consent is obtained, the individual evaluations of the child will commence. The comprehensive diagnostic evaluations are provided at no cost to the parent and completed in the child's native language. They are completed by certified professionals who will explain the results of their testing.
If evaluations are warranted and upon completion of the evaluations, the professional staff will provide the parent with a written report of the details of the testing results. Parents will be provided with copies of the district's evaluation reports 10 calendar days prior to the eligibility meeting. These evaluations will help determine if the child has an educational disability and whether special education services are required.
The discussion of the evaluations and the determination regarding special education and related services will take place at the eligibility meeting.
Parent(s) may have obtained private evaluations at their own expense before or during the evaluation timeframe. If the parent(s) wish to share this information with the school personnel, it will be taken into consideration in identifying the child as being eligible for special education and related services or speech language services and, if appropriate, in planning the program.
Eligibility for Speech/Language Services
The evaluation shall include an assessment of voice, fluency and articulation. A hearing and vision screening by the school nurse is required.
The evaluations recommended by the school district are deemed to be in the child's best interest; however, the parent has the right to refuse consent or withdraw consent at any time, through written notification. If the school district disagrees with this action, it may invoke a due process hearing.
Eligibility for Special Education
The evaluation shall include assessments by at least two members of the CST. For a preschool age child who requires a speech-language assessment, it may be utilized as one of the two required assessments. If autism or communication is the area of suspected disability, a speech-language assessment is required in addition to at least two other assessments by the CST. A hearing and vision screening by the school nurse is required. Other areas from which information may be gathered include a specialized medical evaluation(s), speech/language evaluation, occupational/physical therapy evaluations, and/or an audiological screening. The tests may be conducted by the members of the CST or by practitioners contracted by the school district.
Upon completion of the evaluations, an eligibility meeting will be scheduled to determine whether the child is eligible for special education and related services or speech language services. Meeting attendees will be asked to sign an attendance sheet. The case manager or evaluator will review evaluation results and answer all questions. The case manager will discuss the rationale for determination of eligibility or non-eligibility. Parents will receive written notice of the results of this meeting. Consent for Eligibility is not required.
Eligibility for special education required meeting participants: parent, general education teacher, student (where appropriate), and case manager. CST member(s) and other school district personnel, when appropriate, can also be invited to attend.
Eligibility for speech/language services meeting participants: parent, student (where appropriate), general education teacher, and speech/language specialist.
A reevaluation will be conducted within three years of the child's prior eligibility meeting at which time the IEP team will discuss whether formal testing is warranted or if there is sufficient available information to continue the eligibility without formal testing. However, a parent may request in writing a reevaluation at any time.
A reevaluation may be waived with parental consent except for the reevaluation of preschool children to determine school age eligibility.
If a reevaluation planning meeting is held and it is determined that further testing is not warranted to determine continued eligibility the IEP team may proceed to the eligibility meeting. If testing is warranted, an evaluation plan is developed, written parental consent is obtained and the evaluations performed. Upon completion of the evaluations, the CST will provide the parent with copies of the district's evaluation reports 10 days prior to the eligibility meeting. These evaluations along with teacher input will help determine if the student continues to be eligible for special education services.
Eligibility for Special Education - Recommendations
In developing recommendations, the CST, parent, and any others present will discuss the evaluations and any other pertinent information on the student. The first decision is whether the student possesses an educational disability that adversely affects educational performance and requires special education and related services. There are 14 categories for special education eligibility: auditorily impaired, autistic, cognitively impaired, communication impaired, emotionally disturbed, multiply disabled, orthopedically impaired, other health impaired, preschool with a disability, social maladjustment, specific learning disability, traumatic brain injury, visually impaired and deaf/blindness. For a complete definition of each of the disabilities see http://www.nj.aov/nided/code/current/title6a/chap14.pdf.
If the CST determines that the student exhibits an educational disability, a determination must be made regarding the least restrictive educational setting in which the child can receive educational benefit from special education services. In order to accomplish this task, there are a variety of placements to consider. These placements range in levels of restriction, including class size, student-teacher ratio, and degree of inclusion. The progression of services is as follows:
· general education with supplementary aides/services
· in class resource/support
· resource center replacement
· special class - in district
· out of district placement
· temporary home instruction
Eligibility for Speech/Language Services - Recommendations
In developing recommendations, the speech/language specialist, parent, and any others present will discuss the evaluations and any other pertinent information about the child. Eligibility requires a disorder of articulation/phonology, voice or fluency that adversely affects educational performance and requires speech/language services.
Consent means that the parent(s)/guardian(s) have been given all the information necessary to make an informed decision about the proposed activity. Consent also means that the parent(s)/guardian(s) understand and agree in writing to the proposed activity.
Consent is immediate. This means, after the parent(s)/guardian(s) have given written consent, the school district must start the activity as soon as possible.
Giving consent is voluntary. Parent(s)/Guardian(s) can revoke (withdraw) their consent at any time by writing to the school district. Revoking consent does not stop an action that has occurred after the consent was given and before the consent was revoked. The school district must accept a parent's/guardian's written revocation of consent for services and cannot utilize mediation or a due process hearing to seek to overturn that written revocation of consent. Within 10 days of receiving the parent's/guardian's written revocation of consent, the school district must provide them notice that they have revoked consent and that their child will be a general education student 15 days after the notice is sent.
There is much information currently available related to assistive technology for special needs students. This information has raised many questions regarding how assistive technology can help your child with specific challenges related to his/her educational disability when determined to be appropriate and necessary.
When looking for a solution regarding what is the most appropriate assistive technology for your child, a team approach is optimal. The focus of the team's work is to assess your child's strengths and challenges, consider his or her functional and educational needs and then identify specific tasks to be accomplished through goals and objectives in the IEP related to assistive technology. The final process in the team's work is matching an appropriate technology tool (high tech/mid tech/ low tech) that will support your child's identified need, keeping in mind that the least complex intervention needed to remove the barriers to performance should be the first consideration. A qualified assistive technology professional can assist in this process when needed. Parents and districts to work together to measure effectiveness of assistive technology and provide assessment and intervention as a dynamic and continuous process of problem solving toward each new step in achieving desired goals.
Specific graduation requirements are listed in the IEP of a student with disabilities commencing at age 14. The graduation requirements are reviewed annually at the IEP meeting, and if the student with disabilities is exempted from any local and/or state high school graduation requirements, the rationale for that as well as the alternate proficiencies, which are required will be delineated.
A summary of performance in their exit IEP is required when a student graduates. The summary of performance includes a written summary of academic achievement and functional performance prior to the date of the student's graduation. This summary also includes recommendations to assist the student in meeting post secondary goals.