Frequently Asked Questions

    1. My child is age 3, is he/she too young to be evaluated? 

         It is not too early to have a speech and language evaluation and a Psychological Evaluation.  The sooner you know what you are (or are not) dealing with the better. There are many issues that can be tested for at this young age.  Children who receive therapy at a young age have a much higher chance of improving.  Many of our members highly recommend that you have your child tested as soon as possible.  Many of us who waited, wished we got help at a younger age (therapy before the age 9 offers the best results).  Do it now and get them while they are young.  There are a lot of other issues that can get in the way as the get older.  The psychological evaluation is an intelligent test, it measure general cognitive ability.  The Wechslere for Children (WISC) for children over the age of 6 and there is the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-R) for children ages 3 - 7 1/4.  The speech and language evaluation can assess their mastery of early developing reading skills in young children ages 3 - 6.


    2.  Can I request that school evaluate my child for special education?

        Yes, anyone who knows the child can request a child be evaluated. State law requires school districts to proceed and conduct a special education evaluation within 30 days after a parent refers the child for testing. School districts do not have the option to refuse or delay testing for any reason (i.e. pre-referral efforts). It is recommended that you make the request in writing.  This is stated in the Special Education Regulation 28.04: Referral and Evaluation.


    3.    What qualifies a student with disabilities for Section 504?

          To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such impairment. Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.


    4.    Once a student is identified as eligible for services under Section 504, is that student always entitled to such services?

          Yes, as long as the student remains eligible. The protections of Section 504 extend only to individuals who meet the regulatory definition of a person with a disability. If a recipient school district re-evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 04 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determines that the student's mental or physical impairment no longer substantially limits his/her ability to learn or any other major life activity, the student is no longer eligible for services under Section 504.


    5.    What qualifies a student with disabilities for IEP?

          Children must have a formal diagnosis of one or more of the following: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech or Language Impairment, emotional disturbance, Traumatic Brain Injury, Visual Impairment, Hearing Impairment, and other Health Impairments). There are not formal criteria through IDEA of what constitutes the above disorders, but the child must be formally diagnosed to receive services. Children who qualify under IDEA receive an Individual Education Plan (IEP) which is a “contract” between the school district and family for what services and goals the child will receive for a one year period. The IEP is renewed each year and every three years children must have a comprehensive assessment to determine if s/he still has needs that qualify for an IEP.     


    6.    I sent a letter giving my request to test my child last month, my child did qualify for special education, when should I get a copy of my child's new IEP?

          Within 45 school days (that is school working days, the summer or vacations don't count.) You start counting from the time of written consent was given for the initial evaluation or reevaluation. The 45 days includes: school doing the evaluation, convene the team to review evaluation, determine if the students requires special needs, and develop the IEP, if qualified.  You can find these timelines in the Special Ed Regulation: 28.05: The Team Process and Development of the IEP.


    7.    How long do I have to sign and return my child's IEP?

          Take time to review your child's IEP carefully. You have 30 days from the time you received it. (even during the summer months and vacations)


    8.     What are the parent's rights to inspect and review education records?

          Parents have a right to inspect and review all educational records relating to their child.  This right to “inspect and review” includes the right to have copies of records and to receive explanations and interpretations from school officials. Agencies must comply with requests to inspect and review records within forty-five days, under federal law.  Massachusetts Education Law (603 CMR 23.00 - Access to Student Records) records are to be provided within 10 days.  Destruction of records violates the parents’ rights of access. 


          Copies of records must be provided to the parent if failure to do so would prevent the parent from exercising the right to view records. Schools may charge reasonable copying fees unless the fee would “effectively prevent” the parent or student from exercising the right to inspect and review the records. Fees may not be charged for searching and retrieving records.