Special Education Process


The purpose of the special education process is to determine whether or not a child is eligible for special education services and if so, what special education services are most appropriate for the child.

 There are four (4) main steps in this process:

  1. Referral for Assessment

  2. Assessment

  3. Development and Implementation of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

  4. IEP Review


Parent(s), legal guardian(s), teachers, administrators, other school personnel and community members usually refer a child for assessment for special education services. Within 15 days of receiving a referral for assessment (not counting school vacations greater than five days), the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) will receive a written response from Woodlake Unified School District outlining the Assessment Plan that will be followed in gathering and obtaining information to determine special education eligibility.  If the District determines that an assessment of the child is not appropriate then you will receive a written notification of this decision.

The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must give written consent by signing the Assessment Plan before the child can be assessed. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) have 15 days from the receipt of the Assessment Plan to provide the District with a written, signed consent. If the District does not receive the Assessment Plan in the proscribed time, the process begins anew.  Once the District receives the signed Assessment Plan, it has sixty (60) days (not counting vacations greater than five days) to complete the assessment and hold an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting.


The assessment process involves gathering information about the child to determine whether the child has a disability and, if he or she is eligible, the nature and extent of special education services that the child may need. Assessments may include individual testing, observation of the child at school, interviews with the child and school personnel who work with the child, and review of school records, reports and work samples.


Guidelines for Assessment

When the child is assessed, the following guidelines will be followed:

  1. The child will be assessed only after you consent to the Assessment Plan.

  2. The child will be assessed in all areas related to his and her suspected disability.

  3. The assessment will be administered in the child's primary language or a qualified interpreter will be provided.

  4. The assessment must include a variety of appropriate tests to measure the child's strengths and needs.  The persons administering these tests must be qualified to do so.

  5. The assessment will be adapted for students with impaired sensory, physical or speaking skills.

  6. A multidisciplinary team, including at least one teacher or other specialist with knowledge in the area of the child's suspected disability, will assess the child.

  7. Testing and assessment materials and procedures must not be racially, culturally or sexually discriminatory.

Your Right to an Independent Educational Assessment of Your Child

If the parent or legal guardian disagree with the school's assessment of the child, they may obtain an independent educational assessment of the child. Upon their request, the school must give them information about how to obtain this independent assessment by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the District.

The parent or legal guardian has the right to request that the District pay for the independent educational assessment of the child. Whenever the District pays for an independent educational assessment, the criteria under which the assessment is obtained, including location of the assessment and the qualifications of the examiner, must be the same criteria used by the District when it initiates an assessment.

The District may initiate a due process hearing to show its assessment was proper. If the final decision of the hearing offices is that the District's assessment was proper, the parent or legal guardian may still have the right to an independent educational assessment, but they will be required to pay for that assessment. If the parent or legal guardian obtain an independent educational assessment at their own expense, the results of the assessment must be considered by the District in any decision made concerning the child's education, and may be presented as evidence at a due process hearing regarding the child.

If a hearing officer requests an independent educational assessment as part of a hearing, the parent or legal guardian will not have to pay for that assessment.


After the child has been assessed, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team meeting will be scheduled. The IEP meeting must be held at a time and place convenient for the parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s) and the school's representatives. At this meeting, the IEP team will discuss the assessment results and determine whether the child is eligible for special education services. If the child is eligible, then an IEP will also be developed during the meeting.

The following people are members of the IEP team:

  1. The child's parent or guardian, and/or their representative;

  2. A school administrator or qualified representative who is knowledgeable about program options appropriate for the child;

  3. The child's present teacher.  If a student does not presently have a teacher, a teacher with the most recent and complete knowledge of the student and who has observed the student's educational performance will participate as an IEP team member.  If a teacher with the most recent and complete knowledge of the student is not available, the teacher on the IEP team will be a special education teacher qualified to teach a student of his or her age;

  4. Other persons, such as the child, whom parent(s) or legal guardian(s) or the school wish to invite; and

  5. When appropriate, the person(s) who assessed the child or someone familiar with those assessment procedures.


If the child is receiving special education services, his or her IEP will be reviewed in an IEP meeting at least once a year to determine how well it is meeting his or her needs. In addition, every three years, the child will be reassessed and his or her IEP reviewed as part of an overall comprehensive reevaluation of the child's progress.

If there are concerns that the child's educational needs are not being met, either the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) or school personnel may request a reassessment or an IEP meeting to review the IEP at any time during the year. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) may request an IEP meeting to review the IEP at any time during the year. They may also request an IEP meeting by sending a written request to the school. Once the request is received, the meeting must be held within thirty (30) days, not counting school vacations greater than five (5). The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) may request a reassessment by sending a written request to the school or completing a Request for Special Education Assessment which can be obtained at any District school. The school must get permission before it reassesses the child.