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IS A SCHOOL DISTRICT REQUIRED TO INFORM PARENTS OF SPECIFIC TESTS BEING USED WHEN EVALUATING OR REEVALUATING THEIR CHILD?

A common question that parents ask is whether a school district must provide them prior notice of the specific tests that will be administered to their child. IDEA regulations under 34 CFR 300.503, require that school districts must provide written notice to parents that include in part:

1) A description of the action proposed or refused by the agency;

(2) An explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to take the action;

(3) A description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action;

(4) A statement that the parents of a child with a disability have protection under the procedural safeguards of this part and, if this notice is not an initial referral for evaluation, the means by which a copy of a description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained;

(5) Sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this part;

(6) A description of other options that the IEP team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected; and

(7) A description of other factors that are relevant to the agency's proposal or refusal.

Noticeably missing from the notice requirement to parents, are the specific tests to be administered. In a 2009 California case, the judge ruled: "The District provided Parents with advance notice of its proposed assessment plan, and the notice adequately advised Parents of their procedural rights. The notice indicated the areas to be assessed, the type of professional who would perform the assessment, and the reason for each proposed assessment" Whittier Union High Sch. Dist., 53 IDELR 170 (SEA CA 2009). Thus, the judge found the assessment plan complied with the notice requirements of the IDEA, even though the specific tests that were to be administered, were not specifically listed.

However, it is completely within a parent's right to ask the school district which tests they plan to administer to their child. In an effort to work cooperatively with families, many school districts will share this information with parents, since they are all part of the student's educational team. If parents have specific testing they feel is necessary to address all of their child's unique needs, it is important for them to share their requests with the assessment team in writing. Thus, although there is no specific requirement that a school district MUST provide parents with a list of specific tests that will be used, working cooperatively together often times results in open communication, and a school district may be more willing to share the specific tests to be used.

Danielle Augustin is a founding partner of Augustin Egelsee LLP, a law firm representing children and families with special education needs. Danielle has been practicing law for over 18 years, first as a deputy district attorney in Orange County, California, then as a special education student attorney for the past 14 years. For more information about special education law, go to: www.OcKidsLaw.com or call 714-282-1242.

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