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If a child is experiencing learning difficulties, parents may contact their child's school to inquire about the district's general education referral or screening system for support services. This system connects students with various support options, including potential referral for a special education evaluation. Students facing challenges in the regular classroom should be considered for tutorial, compensatory, and other academic or behavioral support services available to all students, which may include a process based on Response to Intervention (RtI). The implementation of RtI has the potential to positively impact districts' ability to meet the needs of struggling students.

Parents have the right to request an evaluation for special education services at any time. The district must promptly determine if an evaluation is necessary. If deemed necessary, the parent will be notified and asked for written consent for the evaluation. The district must complete the evaluation and provide a report within 60 calendar days of receiving written consent. The district must also provide the parent with a copy of the evaluation report.

If the district decides an evaluation is unnecessary, they must provide the parent with written notice explaining the decision. This notice must include information on the parents' rights if they disagree with the district's decision. Parents must also receive the Notice of Procedural Safeguards—Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities. Further information about the IDEA can be obtained from the school district in a companion document, A Guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process.

Federal law mandates parental consent for and completion of an appropriate evaluation to determine if a child may have a disability and the individual educational needs that may result from that disability.