Special Education Eligibility

Effective April 1, 2023, I am no longer accepting new clients and will be taking a leave from the practice of law later this year. Thank you for your understanding.

Children with special needs may be eligible for a variety of services provided by the school system. Sometimes, a school will identify a child who may have special needs through Child Find. Under the IDEA, or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and associated federal regulations, each state must have policies and procedures to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities residing in the state, including children attending private schools, who need special education and related services. This process of identifying children who need special education and related services is called Child Find.

In Georgia, the Child Find Process for children from birth to age 3 is coordinated through Babies Can’t Wait, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Early Intervention Program. Local school districts manage the process for children ages 3 through 21.

If you think your child may qualify for special education services, you can request an eligibility evaluation. Most evaluations begin by collecting data from parents and teachers. This information may include medical diagnosis, academic performance, and behavioral observations. Additional testing may be completed by a psychologist, speech and language pathologist, and/or an occupational therapist. Once the testing and data analysis is complete, you will receive a report about the results and any potential needs. At the eligibility meeting, parents meet with teachers and evaluators to discuss the results of the evaluation.

RTI, or response to intervention, is a tiered approach where different levels of intervention are implemented in the classroom. Interventions can range from simple changes to your child’s classroom routine, like moving his or her seat to increase focus, to more involved changes to address a need or learning difference. Any data collected during the RTI process is discussed at the eligibility meeting.

The eligibility process can be complicated and overwhelming. An attorney advocate can help explain the process and represent your child’s interests.