Prepare for your child’s independent evaluation

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & Justice Center of Southeastern Massachusetts
Created February, 2022

Before the evaluation:

  • If the school is paying for the evaluation, make sure that the evaluator accepts the “school rate” or the rate that the school district will pay.
  • Ask the evaluator to clear recommendations about what your child needs in school.
  • Give  the evaluator copies of your child’s past evaluations and current IEP. Ask the evaluator to review these documents.
  • Tell the evaluator about your child’s behaviors and learning struggles.
  • Make a list of the questions you want the evaluator to answer.
  • Ask the evaluator to watch your child at school.
  • Ask the evaluator for an in-person meeting or phone call to go over the results of the evaluation.
  • Ask if the evaluator is willing to attend a Team Meeting to present their report.

Can I watch or observe my child in school or ask an expert to?

You have the right to watch your child at school to see how they are doing. Tell the school you want to “observe” your child. You also have the right to observe any classroom that the school wants your child to be in.

You also have the right to have an independent evaluator or an outside therapist watch your child at school. Watching your child in school will help the evaluator make recommendations about what your child needs in order to learn.

The school district cannot make it difficult for you or your evaluator to observe your child at school. They cannot put unreasonable restrictions on the amount of time you can observe or what you can observe. The school district must schedule the observation soon after you ask for it. For example, if you want to observe for an hour in your child’s classroom, the school should schedule the observation in a week. If you want to observe for a longer amount of time, or you want to observe your child’s current program and the program the school is suggesting, the school may take longer than a week to schedule the observations.

The school can limit your visit to:

  • keep the students in the class safe, prevent disruption and maintain the quality of the class, or
  • keep information about other students confidential.

Write a letter or email to the school special education coordinator. Ask to observe your child or let them know that  your independent evaluator wants to observe. List the classes and activities you would like to observe or that you would like your evaluator to observe.

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