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Right to an Evaluation for Special Education Services

If you suspect your child has a disability, you have a right to request an evaluation at your child’s school district of residence; it’s the school district’s responsibility to “identify, locate, and evaluate” children who might be eligible for special education [34 Code of federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Sec. 300.111; California Education Code (Cal. Ed. Code) Secs. 56300 & 301].

To initiate a referral for an assessment, a written and dated request must be made by a parent, guardian, service provider, or teacher. Once a referral has been initiated, it is under the state law that the school district must provide an assessment plan within 15 days [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56321(a)]. Once you receive the assessment plan, you have at least 15 days to accept or respond to the assessment plan [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56321(c)(4).]. The school district has 60 days of school sessions to complete the evaluation and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56344(a).]

If the district refuses to assess your child, you can challenge the refusal by filing a compliance complaint with the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Complaint Management and Mediation Unit.

To write to the special education department in your school district of residence, you will need:

  1. Your school district. Locate your school district here

  2. The contact information of the head of the special education department in your child’s school district. You can google “(school district) Special Education Department Contact”

  3. A list of your concerns

  4. Techniques and interventions that you have tried

Here is a downloadable and editable template/model letter requesting an evaluation for your child to see if he or she is eligible to receive special education and related services. A sample of the downloadable letter can be reviewed below:


To: XX, Director of Special Education Department From: Parent Name

Address Line 1 Address Line 1

Address Line 2 Address Line 2

Special Education Phone Number Phone Number


Dear XX,

I am the parent of XX. I am requesting a comprehensive assessment in all areas related to suspected disability to determine whether CHILD is eligible for special education and/or related services either under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (including the Other Health Impairment category) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

I am requesting this assessment because s/he is XX-years-old and is showing deficits in XXX [examples: health and development, vision (including low vision), hearing, motor abilities, language function (receptive, expressive, or social), general ability, academic performance, self-help, orientation and mobility skills, career and vocational abilities and interest, and social and emotional status]. The following interventions and accommodations have been tried: private therapy, social skills classes, XX, XX. However, my child continues to struggle with XXXX.

It is my understanding that I will hear back from you in writing within 15 days of this request.

I look forward to hearing from you and working with you and your staff.


Parent Name


For more detailed information about Disability Rights in California, click here.

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