The Referral and Evaluation

  • A child's need for special education is not a function of a medical diagnosis, and special education and related services are not "prescribed;" however, physicians play an important role in the identification of students with disabilities, and may provide valuable insight into a student's disability/related needs. 

    A physician who reasonably believes a child has a disability must refer the child to a school district for an evaluation. The referral must be in writing and include the name of the child and the reason why the physician believes the child has a disability. The physician must inform the child's parent of the intent to refer prior to submitting the referral document. 

    Upon receipt of a referral, the school district will assemble a team to determine if the child is eligible for special education-related services. The team will include the guardian(s), the child's teacher, a school psychologist, a special education teacher, and a school administrator or designee. Only the team can make the determination that the child is eligible for special education-related services.

    A child's physician is not a required member of the team but may participate on the team with the consent of the child's parent(s)/guardian(s). The team may consider information provided by a physician regarding a child's disability regardless of the physician's attendance at a team meeting.

Provision and Related Services

  • If the need for special education services is determined, the team will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the child.

    The IEP specifies the special education and related services necessary for the child to receive a free appropriate education (FAPE). The IEP will be reviewed and revised at least annually by the IEP team. As with the evaluation process, physicians may participate as IEP team members and the IEP team may consider information provided by physicians when determining what special education and related services a particular child may require. 

Children in Private Schools & Home Schools

  • Children enrolled by their parents in private schools or home schools are entitled to an evaluation for special education eligibility. 

    Referrals should be made to the school district where the child's private school or home school is located.

    Children enrolled by their parents in private schools are not entitled to FAPE. such children may be eligible to participate in limited special education and related services, known as "equitable services," provided by the public school.

Occupational Therapy & Physical Therapy

  • Under IDEA, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy in the public school system is defined as a "Related Service" and is delivered under the "educational model" of therapy. The limitations of the "educational model" are that a therapist can only work with a child who has been identified as a Special Education student or a 504 student. Therapy is limited to addressing only goals that are educationally relevant and related to the child's participation in learning activities. Under federal law, a physician cannot prescribe OT or PT for the educational model. this would be a team decision and only for a student who currently has an IEP or a 504. 

Legal Requirements

  • The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Delaware special education law entitle children with disabilities age three (or earlier as otherwise provided in Delaware regulations) until the receipt of a regular high school diploma or the end of the school year in which the child attains the age of twenty-one, whichever occurs first a free and appropriate public education. 

    "Child with a Disability" means a child evaluated as having an intellectual disability, a hearing impairment (including deafness), a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), a serious emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, any other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education-related services.

    The above-mentioned disabilities must adversely impact educational performance (i.e. the student needs special assistance above and beyond their peers in order to access the educational curriculum and/or has significant difficulty keeping up with peers in class.

For Referrals