Educational Support

Special Education Evaluation Process

The Local Education Agency (LEA) – meaning, your local school district or regional Intermediate Unit -- has a “child find” duty to identify children in need of special education services. If it is suspected that a child is in need of special education services, either a parent or a school representative may initiate the process of evaluation.

A parent/guardian may start the process by asking the LEA for an evaluation of the child. Upon receipt of the request, the LEA has 10 days to send a “Permission To Evaluate Request Form.”  Upon submitting this form, the parent will receive a second form called “Permission to Evaluate: Consent.” Once the parent has submitted the Consent form, the LEA has 90 calendar days (excluding days when school is not in session during the summer) to complete the child‘s evaluation

The LEA will establish a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) to test the child, create an Evaluation Report (ER), and schedule a meeting to discuss its contents.  Parents/guardians are members of the team, and their input will be included in the report. In addition to relevant teachers and therapists, the Multidisciplinary Team may include professionals such as a school psychologist or social worker.

The parent/guardian has the right to read the final version of the ER 10 days prior to the meeting to discuss its contents.  If the parent/guardian agrees with the ER, and if the report deems the child eligible for services under IDEIA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Code, the team (often with additional members) begins drafting an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for special education or a Section 504 Service Plan.

If you disagree with the evaluation, you have the right to ask for an independent evaluation to be performed at school district expense.  If the district agrees, then you select a school-certified psychologist to perform the evaluation. If the district does not agree to pay for the independent evaluation, you have a right to use “dispute resolution” options offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR).

For more information about these options, see Disability and the Law in the Family Support Section of this Guide.