What should parents expect and prepare for at a special education eligibility meeting?

Often, parents attending their first Special Education Eligiblity Conference are surprised by the number of school professionals in the room. This can be intimidating, but parents should be aware that each individual in the room has some special input regarding the student, and is present with the student's best interest in mind. The Domain Review Meeting, held prior to the Eligibility Meeting, dictates which professionals attend, in correlation to the evaluations deemed necessary. At most Eligibility Conferences, a school psychologist, school social worker, general education teacher, and a representative from school administration (or designee) will be present. For students who had evaluations completed for speech and language, a speech pathologist will also be present. For students with motor skills needs, an occupational (fine motor) or physical (gross motor) therapist will be present to explain their results of their evaluations and observations.

Parent's Role

The parent is an equal member of the special education team, having unique knowledge and helpful information about the child. It can be difficult to have so many individuals reporting about your child. If at any time, you do not understand what is being presented, please ask the team members for clarification. After the professionals have completed the presentation of their findings, eligibility will be determined per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Guidelines. The school psychologist will lead the discussion of the criteria of the disabling conditions under which students may become eligible for services. If the student is eligible, the way in which the disabling condition affects the student's ability to learn (adverse effects) will be discussed and documented. Additionally, a discussion and documentation of the student's unique, educational needs, will take place.

Giving Consent for Placement In Special Education

Following the reports from the school professionals who have evaluated your child, it will be determined if you child is eligible for specialized educational services. If your child is found eligible, you will be asked to sign consent for your student to receive the services recommended.