Guiding PrinciplesOur goal is to find the students who should be eligible for special education, to conduct our evaluations in a timely and culturally-sensitive manner, and to use special education as a tool to help eligible students move forward in becoming great thinkers and thoughtful people for the world.The question of eligibility for special education is an important one. Special education can provide much needed supports and insight for students with disabilities. At the same time, the identification for special education can impact the ways a student experiences school, and the mindset of the learner and those around them. Parents and teams need time for this important process, especially for an initial eligibility.In West Linn-Wilsonville, we understand the obligations of Child Find (locating, evaluating, and identifying students with disabilities), while being keenly aware of the importance of not over-identifying students from underrepresented groups or making eligible students who may have issues other than disability impacting their learning (including second language acquisition).In interpreting evidence for decisions about special education eligibility, teams carefully consider information from a variety of sources, the criteria for the eligibility category and the child's unique circumstances. Documentation of these conversations is guided by district eligibility forms that are in compliance with the IDEA and Oregon Administrative Regulations.Procedural GuidanceSpecial education and related services are available to all resident school-age children with disabilities who meet eligibility criteria:
The Eligibility Team
- School-aged children are aged 5-21 as of September 1
- This includes students enrolled in a public charter school within the district
- When a student graduates with a standard diploma, they are no longer eligible for special education services
The Eligibility Meeting
- The eligibility team is made up of the parent and at least two professionals, at least one of whom is a specialist knowledgeable in the evaluation and education of students with disabilities.
- The general education teacher is only required to be part of the eligibility team if the area of suspected disability is Specific Learning Disability. However, it is always best practice to have the general education teacher involved as they are the child's primary educator.
If found eligible, the initial IEP meeting must be held within 30 calendar days of the eligibility meeting.Students must be evaluated in all areas of suspected disability; only one area of eligibility is required to qualify for special education. In general, we look for the area of eligibility which most impacts the student's learning, but there may be particular reasons that a team may pursue additional areas of eligibility(ies).
- The eligibility team reviews evaluation results and eligibility criteria for areas of suspected disability.
- The eligibility team cannot find a student eligible if they determine that the primary basis for the suspected disability is due to
- a lack of instruction in reading or math
- limited English proficiency
- The eligibility team determines whether the disability has an adverse impact on the child's educational performance
- The eligibility team also determines whether the child needs special education services
- Advancing from grade to grade does not disqualify a student from eligibility for special education
- The eligibility meeting must take place no later than 60 school days from the date that the parent signed the Consent for Evaluation form to determine whether or not the student is eligible.
- The initial eligibility meeting should take place as a stand alone meeting, to allow all team members adequate time to process this important decision, in most cases.
Each member of the team will sign the eligibility document and indicate their agreement or disagreement with the team's eligibility decision.
- If a team determines that a student is eligible in more than one category, they should document which category is the primary disability.
The eligibility team may determine that a student is not eligible for special education. If the team determines that a student does not meet one of the criteria on the eligibility form, they should draw a diagonal line through the rest of the form. The team should then sign the form saying that they agree that the student is not eligible.
Exiting - Finding a Student Non-EligibleThe process of "exiting" from Special Education is basically the same as the process of renewing eligibility.
- For Example: The eligibility team is considering whether a student has a Specific Learning Disability. After discussing the results of appropriate assessments, the team determines that the student does not demonstrate a pattern of strengths and weaknesses and therefore does not have a Specific Learning Disability. The team does not need to continue with the rest of the eligibility form (determining whether the disability has an academic impact and whether the student requires specially designed instruction). Draw a line through the rest of the form. Then have team members sign the form.
ResourcesOregon Administrative Rules (OARs) for Special Education Eligibility 581-015-2100+ (pdf updated November 2016)Eligibility FAQsWhat if the parents request holding the first IEP meeting on the same date as the initial eligibility meeting due to schedule constraints?
- If a case manager, student, parent or teacher suspects that a student no longer needs special education services, they should call meeting to do Evaluation Planning.
- The team may determine that they have enough data to hold an eligibility meeting. Or they may determine that they need to conduct additional testing.
- If additional testing is needed, the parent signs the Consent for Evaluation form.
- Within 60 school days of the signed consent, the Eligibility team meets to review the student's eligibility.
- If the team determines that the student is no longer eligible for special education services, this should be documented on the eligibility form as well as in the meeting notes.
- The district also completes a Prior Written Notice of SPED Action to document the process.
This is not recommended, as the eligibility process presents a great deal of important and often complex information for the team and parents to understand. However, it is legally permissible to have both meetings on the same day. It is important to know your parents and their needs, and make the best decision for the situation.
Learning Specialists generally strive to send a draft IEP home in advance of an IEP meeting. This can be complicated if we send home a draft IEP before the team has determined that a student is even eligible for special education services. Parents may perceive that the school has made an eligibility decision before the eligibility team (including the parent) has met to determine eligibility.
Most teams reach consensus around eligibility determinations through thorough evaluation, thoughtful discussion, and ensuring that all team members are heard. However, if the team does not reach consensus, the team member (parent or educator) who disagrees should document their reasons for disagreeing in writing. This written dissent is then uploaded as an attachment to the eligibility decision in ePEP. The student would still be eligible if the rest of the team was in agreement with the decision.If the parent disagrees with the eligibility decision, will the student still get special education services?Once a team determines a student is eligible for special education services (even if there was not consensus), the school does not begin providing services until the parent signs consent for the Initial Provision of Special Education Services. This is documented on a separate consent form from the eligibility determination. So a student can be found eligible for services, but not actually receive services because the parent chooses not to sign consent for initial provision. A parent can also choose to revoke consent for services at any time - with written notice. (See the Parents: Collaboration, Communication & Procedural Safeguards page in this handbook for more details)Can an SLP exit a student from SPED services without a formal eligibility meeting if the student has met all of their goals?
No. Eligibility is a team decision, not the decision of a single professional. If a student has met all of their speech goals, the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) should call a team meeting to add additional goals or re-consider eligibility (starting with Evaluation Planning). The student's data from the SLP may be enough to make an eligibility determination, but it needs to be a team decision.Board Policy IGBAH, IGBAJ