To: Superintendents and Special Education Directors
From: Frank Podobnik
Date: September 21, 2016
Re: Special Education Child Find RequirementsGreetings. I hope your school year has gotten off to a great start. As this year begins, the OPI has been hearing more and more about school districts refusing to enroll students with disabilities, or refusing to conduct an evaluation for a child that is suspected of having a disability. I wanted to send a reminder of the state and federal laws and regulations that govern the district’s responsibility for all children that reside within the district boundaries. Attached to this memo are the references from the Montana Code Annotated (MCA), Administrative Rules of Montana (ARMs) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations. In summary, these laws and rules require the school district to have a special education program that offers a full continuum of services to students with disabilities. As a part of that program, the district has the responsibility of locating and evaluating every child with a disability that resides in the district. This is known as the Child Find requirement and it applies to all children regardless of their enrollment status. This includes children who have been suspended or expelled. In those cases, the IDEA regulations require that the evaluation be conducted in an expedited manner. If the district does not suspect the child has a disability and denies the request for an initial evaluation of a child, the district must provide written notice to the parents, consistent with 34 CFR 300.503(b), which explains why the district refuses to conduct an initial evaluation and the information it used as the basis for that decision. The parent may challenge the refusal by requesting a due process hearing. The Prior Written Notice form available in AIM will guide the district in meeting the notice requirements. Additionally, if the parent disagrees with an evaluation conducted by the district, the parents have the right to request an independent education evaluation (IEE) at public expense.
The following link provides the references from the Montana Code Annotated (MCA), Administrative Rules of Montana (ARMs) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations: