There are two primary ways in which children and youth are identified:
- System known as Child Find, and
- By referral of a parent or school personnel.
What is Child Find?
Each state, including Texas, is required by IDEA to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities in the state who need special education and related services. Often known as Child Find activities.
When a child is identified by Child Find as possibly having a disability and as needing special education, parents must be asked for permission to evaluate their child. Parents can also contact their local school and ask that their child be evaluated.
Referral or request for evaluation by a parent
Texas rules say “if a parent submits a written request to a school district’s director of special education services or to a district administrative employee for a full individual and initial evaluation [FIIE] of a student, the school district must, not later than the 15th school day after the date the district receives the request:
(1) provide the parent with prior written notice of its proposal to conduct an evaluation …; a copy of the procedural safeguards notice …; and an opportunity to give written consent for the evaluation; or
(2) provide the parent with prior written notice of its refusal to conduct an evaluation …, and a copy of the procedural safeguards notice.” 19 Texas Administrative Code §89.1011(b)
We encourage parents to submit requests for evaluation in writing. Talking with a child’s teacher or other school professionals about concerns and possible evaluation is appropriate, but putting a request for an evaluation in writing provides documentation of following the State rule, and should get a response the fastest. According to the Texas Education Agency’s Parent’s Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process document published February 2021, “Please note that a request for a special education evaluation may be made verbally and does not need to be in writing…There is not a specific timeline requirement for responding to verbal requests, but schools are encouraged to follow the same 15-school-day timeline described above.”
Parental consent is needed before a child may be evaluated. Texas rules give schools some latitude on when an evaluation needs to be completed depending on when consent was signed by the parent. (See Evaluation-Timelines)