When Must an Arizona School Respond to an Evaluation Request?
How long does a school in Arizona have to respond to an evaluation request regarding an IEP? First, we’ll start with the process if a parent or a guardian initiates.
Written Request for an IEP or Special Education Eligibility Evaluation
Per state regulation and federal laws, the parent or guardian needs to have, in writing, a request to the school that their student be evaluated for eligibility for IEP or special education. Once this starts, this does start the clock, and the school has 15 school days—it is in calendar days; this is school days. So, if there are any types of vacations, holidays, or weekends, those don’t count.
15 Days School Session
The school must be in school session for that 15 days to accumulate. So, they have 15 days to take this request and decide if more evaluations need to happen or if they already have all the data they need. It’s important to remember that the purpose of an assessment is to collect data to assess the student’s needs. Sometimes an evaluation isn’t required because there’s already enough data to determine eligibility.
What might this look like? Student’s grades, attendance, teacher, or parent observations. Healthcare providers may give their reports or opinions. Even behavioral health providers also may as well. So, there may not even be a need for an evaluation. The school will then let you know if they already have enough information.
School District’s Decision after 15 Days
At the end of that 15 days, you will know if the student is getting an evaluation.
Are they deciding already? Or do they already have enough data, and they’ll determine eligibility that way? Again, the short answer, it’s very straightforward, is 15 school days. If it’s been more than 15 school days and your school district has still not responded to your letter, you may reach out to the school district and let them know you have given them notice.
Other topics of interest include:
Filing an Administrative Complaint in the Event of No Response
If you still don’t hear anything, you can report them to the State Board of Education and file an administrative complaint against them because this violates the IDEA act. And so, this is federal law, 15 school business days, and you can act if they do not comply or do not give you a response.
What is the Arizona IEP Timeline? | IEPs and Special Education
What is a typical IEP timeline in Arizona? Specifically from when the parent or guardian initiates the process to the completion of the IEP.
A couple of things to note are if a parent or guardian lets the school know, in writing, that they would like their child to be assessed to see if they’re eligible for an IEP or special education. They let the school know in writing—that’s important. When that happens, and the school receives that written request from a parent or guardian, they have 15 school days.
Considerations That Affect the School’s Response Timeline
So, this is important. After the initial request, it is 15 school days to respond.
Now, a couple of things to note when discussing eligibility for an IEP or special education qualification. An evaluation or an assessment may need to occur. And those are two separate things.
IEP Eligibility Assessment
An evaluation is to collect data for it to be assessed. Sometimes there’s already enough data from the school. It might mean grades, teacher, or parent observations. It could be the student’s primary health provider and behavioral health if they have any of those services.
Those providers can also provide data because they’ve already assessed the student. Therefore, the evaluation has already happened. If this is something different and the data cannot give a clear picture, an additional evaluation would need to happen.
School’s Conclusion Based on the Student’s Evaluation Result
And all of this would be decided by the school. They would look at the data they already have on the student to see if they need an additional evaluation. “Do we already have the data we need to assess the student?” Or if they have the data, and the student really doesn’t qualify or doesn’t need to have any additional evaluations—the process stops there.
So, as we had discussed, the 15-day mark, or the 15 school days. The school district and the special education team will then let you know if an evaluation is needed, if they already have all the data, or if they have the data and the student doesn’t qualify.
What If Additional Evaluation is Needed?
At that time, parents or guardians will be notified. If they decide that an evaluation needs to occur, the school has 60 calendar days. Now, we’re switching. We started with 15 school days, and now we’re 60 calendar days. They have 60 calendar days to collect all the necessary assessments and evaluations to look at the data, meet, and decide on eligibility.
Now, the school does have one sort of continuance of 30 days. So, they are allowed an additional 30 days. It only happens if it’s in the student’s best interest and the parent or guardian and the school have agreed. At most, you have 15 days to initiate the process.
After 15 days, they will inform you if an additional evaluation needs to occur. The school then has 60 calendar days and possibly an additional 30. At the end of that, that’s 90 calendar days. The school will then have to decide with their team if your child is eligible for an IEP or special education.
What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in Arizona?
Now, with an IEP, this is when you’re going to get that specialized education. So, the school will pull you out regarding your child for special education. Although in an IEP, you might also get those same accommodations.
Let’s talk about an IEP. An IEP is codified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It grants people with a specified disability, and there’s a list of 13 categories your student must qualify under. And they will have an actual plan, a legally binding document.
How IEP Works
An IEP will give goals for your student to achieve and how they will get there. It is when we discuss accommodations, testing, progress monitoring, etc. You will meet annually to check those goals to ensure that you’re reaching or on the right track.
Categories of Disabilities
Then, every three years, the student will need to be reevaluated to see if they’re still eligible for the IEP. In the IEP, as I said, you do have to have one of the 13 categories of disabilities. And those are anywhere from:
- Emotional disorders
- Specific learning disabilities
- Speech or Language
- Visual Impairment,
- And traumatic brain injury.
Those are the basic list and the categories; your student must qualify underneath one. If they don’t, they will not receive an IEP. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get a 504 plan because a 504 disability is defined broadly to qualify for it.
So, those are the main differences.
Is AZ IEP Free?
You might have a perception that education is expensive. However, the good news is that IEP is a free program in Arizona. The federal and state government have put in place adequate measures to ensure that all children with disabilities can access this form of education at no cost. However, the program is not entirely free. Families must still pay for some costs associated with IEP, such as travel expenses, books, and other materials.
How Do I Get an IEP For My Child in Arizona?
As a parent or guardian, you can request an IEP evaluation for your child if you think they might need special education services. You can make this request to the school district in which your child attends school. The school district must evaluate whether your child is eligible for special education services.
If the school district determines that your child is eligible for special education services, they will develop an IEP for your child. The IEP is a document that outlines the special education services that your child will receive.
What Are the Components of An IEP In Arizona?
The components of an IEP vary from state to state. However, in general, an IEP must include the following:
- A statement of the child’s present level of educational performance
- A description of the child’s special education and related services
- Annual goals for the child’s educational progress
- A description of how the school will measure the child’s progress
- The date by which the IEP will be reviewed and revised, if necessary
It’s essential to understand that an IEP is a living document that people can revise. As your child’s needs change, you can modify the IEP to address those changes.
What Is the Difference Between A 504 Plan and IEP In Arizona?
You might wonder whether your child needs an IEP or a 504 plan.
IEPs and 504 plans help children with disabilities succeed in school. However, there are some critical differences between the two. IEPs are individualized education programs created for students who need special education services. IEPs must be reviewed and updated at least once per year.
504 plans are for students who do not need special education services but still need accommodations to help them succeed in school. For example, a student with a 504 plan might need extra time to take tests or have a quiet place to work. 504 plans do not need to be reviewed as often as IEPs.
When Must an IEP Meeting be Convened?
Understand that the team must convene an IEP meeting within 30 days of the child’s eligibility determination. The IEP team will meet to discuss the child’s needs and create an individualized education program. If the team did not meet the time frame for the IEP meeting, you, as the parent, have the right to request a due process hearing.
What Should You Not Say at An Arizona IEP Meeting?
It’s natural for parents to want to advocate for their child at an IEP meeting. However, there are some things that you should avoid saying during an IEP meeting. These things can jeopardize your child’s chances of getting the necessary services.
Some of the things you should avoid saying at an IEP meeting are:
- Making demands
- Threatening legal action
- Saying that you don’t trust the IEP team
- Speaking in a negative tone
It’s also important to remember that an IEP meeting is not a place for you to vent your frustrations. Instead, it’s a place for you to collaborate with the IEP team to create a plan to help your child succeed.
Arizona IEP Progress Monitoring Basics
The IEP progress monitoring process is designed to help ensure that your child is progressing toward their goals. Progress monitoring can take many forms, but it typically includes regular check-ins with the IEP team. Progress monitoring might also include collecting data on your child’s progress and reviewing that data with the IEP team.
Arizona IEP Evaluation Concerns
You must know the evaluation concerns to have a successful Arizona IEP. It will help you ensure that your child gets the services they need to succeed in school. You must ensure that the evaluation team has the necessary information about your child to determine their needs accurately.
It would help if you also ensure that the evaluation team uses a valid and reliable assessment tool. This assessment tool should be able to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Finally, you need to ensure that the evaluation team makes recommendations for services based on your child’s individual needs.
Do You Need an Arizona IEP Attorney?
Understanding the Arizona IEP process can be complicated. If you’re concerned about your child’s education, you may want to consider hiring an IEP attorney. An IEP attorney can help you navigate the IEP process and ensure that your child’s rights are protected.
At Chelle Law, we understand parents’ challenges when advocating for their child’s education. We can help you understand your rights and options under the law. We will work with you to create an individualized education plan that meets your child’s unique needs.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Arizona Student Questions?
IEPs, School Discipline, Hearings and more!