Special Education Referrals

Federal law requires the NYC DOE to identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities and those suspected of having a disability who reside in New York City. This obligation, known as “child find,” is an obligation that extends to all professional staff members.

Only parents and designees of the school district, i.e., the principal, and representatives of certain public agencies and educational programs, may initiate the evaluation process.

Professional members of the school staff, including teachers, may request that the principal or designee refer a student for initial evaluation. A professional member of the school staff who suspects that a student may have a disability may make a written request to refer the student for evaluation. The request is submitted to the principal on the Request for Initial Referral Form.

Within 10 school days of filing a Request for Initial Referral with the principal, the principal must do one of two things:

  1. If the principal agrees with the Request for Referral, the principal initiates the process for obtaining parental consent to evaluate the child and the Notice of Referral: Initial is sent to the parent OR
  2. If the principal does not agree with the Request for Referral, the principal must give the parent a copy of the Request for Initial Referral; inform the parent of his/her right to refer the student; and offer the parent the opportunity to discuss the request to refer the student, and, as appropriate the availability of appropriate general education support services, with the principal and the professional staff member who requested the referral. This process is explained in the Notice of Request for Initial Referral, which must be sent to the parent within the above 10-day timeframe.

Since 2012, school districts must have a Response to Intervention (RtI) framework in place as part of the process to determine if a student in grades K–4 has a learning disability in the area of reading.  Notwithstanding this requirement, the use of RtI strategies cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation requested by a parent to determine if his or her child has a disability.

See more information about special ed referrals »

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