Referral Process

A “referral” in the context of special education services is a process asking the school district to evaluate a student to decide if the student qualifies to receive special education services. A referral can be made either by the school district (through a teacher or other school personnel involved in the student’s education) or by a parent or guardian. The referral is a required first step before an evaluation can take place. 

Within 14 school days after receiving the written request, the district will decide whether to evaluate the child or not. If the district determines an evaluation is warranted, then the district must provide the parents with the paperwork to provide formal written consent. If the district determines that the evaluation is not necessary, it must notify the parent in writing of the decision not to evaluate and the reasons for the decision. The district must also advise the parents of their right to request a due process hearing to challenge its decision. 

Parents need to submit a request for evaluation to have their child considered to be eligible for special education services. It is best to put your request in writing. Not all referrals result in an evaluation being conducted. To be eligible to receive special education services, the child must have a disability that impacts educational performance. Requests for evaluation may be made by a parent of a child, an employee of a State educational agency, another State agency, a local school district, or a community service agency.