Special Education

Referral and Evaluation

Establishing Special Education Services for Students

A referral is the first step toward receiving special education services. A referral is a written request for evaluation, explaining why the student might need special education services.

A student must be referred before they are evaluated. Evaluation determines if a student iseligible for special education services, and what those services might be. Once a student has been referred, a teamat the student’s school will decide whether or not to evaluate the student within 25 school days.

If a student already has an IEP and is transferring into Seattle Public Schools , they do not need tobe referred. Instead, the district will use the Out of District placement process.

 

Making a Referral

Any member of a student’s community may initiate a referral for evaluation. This community is comprised of their parents or guardians, extended family, teachers, medical professionals, community members, and/or agencies.

Referral is the first step leading towards Special Education Services. All referrals are made in writing. They are made either to the District or through a student?s existing school, depending on the child?s enrollment status in Seattle Public Schools. A parent, guardian, teacher or other individual knowledgeable about that child may initiate the referral. When a referral is made, the District must act within twenty-five school days to make a decision about whether or not to evaluate for eligibility.

Materials that may be used to determine whether to evaluate include:

  • Medical, therapy, or school records
  • Report cards or other progress reports
  • Teacher, parent, or provider information
  • Other assessments

Parents/guardians must consent before any records not internal to Seattle Public Schools are shared with the District.

During the referral period, if a meeting is held, the parents/guardians will be invited. The recommendation regarding evaluation will be provided to parents/guardians in the form of Prior Written Notice. If the evaluation is denied, the parents/guardians will be notified of the reason.

Students Currently Enrolled

If your student is already enrolled in Seattle Public Schools , communicate with the staff at your student’s school to begin the referral process. A good place to start is your student’s teacher or a building administrator. If you need help making a referral, please contact us.

All referrals must be made in writing, but can occur at any time. If necessary, we can work with families to accept verbal referrals.

Student Not Enrolled with Seattle Public Schools

Services for children younger than 3 years old are not administered by Seattle Public Schools. Contact WithinReach of WashingtonState, toll free: 1-800-322-2588.

Students 3–5 years old, not enrolled in Seattle Public Schools Preschool-aged children (3–5 years old) may be eligible to receive services through Seattle Public Schools.

Contact Child Find Screening & Referral:
206-252-0805 or childfind-specialedpreschool@seattleschools.org

Child Find is an Individuals with DisabilitiesEducation Act (IDEA) mandate. It seeks to locate all children with disabilities who would benefit from public services. Child Find provides an initial referral point for children not enrolled in SeattlePublic Schools. They also conduct outreach efforts to identify at-risk children who have not been referred.

Students 5–21 years old, not enrolled in Seattle Public Schools School-aged students (5–21 years old) not enrolled in Seattle Public Schools, who reside in the district or attend a school within district boundaries may be referred for evaluation through private school referral.

This applies to students who attend a private school, a non-district school, or homeschool. Private School Referral: 206-252-0800 or privateschoolservices@seattleschools.org Learn more about services for students not enrolled in SPS

 

Referral process

What to expect during the referral process.

Referral period

The student’s parent/guardian will be contacted when a referral is received. The school-based team must make a decision within 25 school days about whether or not to evaluate the student for eligibility.

During the referral period, existing records are gathered for review. Materials that may be used to determine whether to evaluate a student include:

  • Medical, therapy, or school records
  • Report cards or other progress reports
  • Teacher, parent, or provider information
  • Other assessments

Parents/guardians must give consent before any records not internal to Seattle Public Schools are shared with the district.

Pre-referral

Pre-referral is the process a school-based team goes through to determine if a student may need additional supports to make academic progress.

Pre-referral refers to the process a school-based team goes through to determine what, if any, additional supports a student may need to make academic progress. If in-class intervention, designed by the teacher, does not produce progress for a student, the school-based team will schedule a meeting to review data and information. Each school has a dedicated team who meets on a regular basis to guide these decisions. This is the first step in considering whether a student qualifies for Special Education.

District-wide, a framework of Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is in varying stages of implementation across all schools in the district. MTSS is a framework for supporting all students in general education demonstrating need for additional supports to make academic progress as evidenced by data. This model of tiered support works to ensure schools meet varying student needs and streamline the process for a Special Education referral when needed.

A parent/guardian may also request a referral for consideration of special education services at any time. The referral request should be in writing and directed to a member of the staff at the school your student attends.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

If a student has behaviors that interfere with their own learning or the learning of others, a functional behavior assessment (FBA) shall be conducted to identify the function of the behavior. The FBA is used to provide the IEP team with additional information and analysis for addressing undesirable behavior when it is interfering with a student?s education and to develop a behavior intervention plan (BIP).


Evaluation

An evaluation will be scheduled if the district finds sufficient evidence to support the decision to evaluate the student, and if the student’s parent/guardian gives written consent. The results from the evaluation are used to determine eligibility for special education services.

How does a student become eligible for Special Education?

The basic sequence leading to eligibility is referral then evaluation. A referral must be made in writing to the District. This triggers communication with the parents, gathering of existing records and review. Assuming the District finds sufficient evidence to support evaluation and the parents/guardians give written consent, it is scheduled. The results are then used to determine eligibility.

Who can make a referral?

Each child is a member of a community supporting their growth and learning. This community is comprised of parents or guardians, extended family, teachers, medical professionals, community members, and/or agencies. Any concerned member of a child’s community can refer them to the District for evaluation.

Where do I begin?

  • For birth to three years of age contact Within Reach of Washington State toll free at 800-322-2588.
  • For three to twenty-one years of age and NOT ENROLLED in Seattle Public Schools Contact Seattle Public Schools Child Find.
  • For three to twenty-one years of age and ENROLLED in Seattle Public Schools communicate with your student’s school staff about Pre-Referral and Referral.

Make a Referral

Student is Enrolled in SPS: Contact staff at your student’s school. Questions about making a referral, contact the special education team.

Student is NOT Enrolled in SPS


Resources

Making a Referral for Special Education  (WA State OSPI)

Child Find: What Parents Need to Know  (wapave.org)

District Registration

Special Education Services are provided to qualified students regardless of registration status in Seattle Public Schools. Referral or qualification for services does not automatically register a student in the District. This is a separate process through the admissions department.