Resources For Students With Special Needs

Special Ed Process: Identification to Discharge

Step  1: Referral

Referral can come from anyone (parent, teacher, relative, courts), and should be in writing, however, verbal referrals are honored.  The School District has 15 calendar days to respond

A referral meeting  often consists of parent(s) or guardian, regular education teacher, special education teacher, an administrator, guidance counselor, school psychologist, and, as needed, other school professionals. This team examines school data and data supplied by the parent (class work, homework, report cards, standardized tests, attendance, behavioral data (SWIS) etc.) Parent participation is welcomed and considered all along the way.

Referral Team Guidelines

  • The team must decide whether the child is receiving Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) through regular education services.  If so, the referral ends and student is monitored in regular education.  Ed 1106 reads as follows: The IEP team shall within 15 days of the referral, determine whether the concerns raised by the referral can be addressed utilizing existing pupil support services available to all children, whether additional information is required, and what testing, if any, is needed to address any remaining concerns raised by the referral about how the referral is determined.
  • Testing for Special Education: if the team suspects whether the child has a disability, the district will propose, in writing, what testing is to take place and who the examiner(s) will be (school psychologist, speech pathologist, etc).

Referral Meeting Outcome

  • Testing –  If testing is proposed, the parent has the right to agree or refuse to allow his/her child to be tested.
  • If the parents agree, then the district has 45 calendar days to complete the evaluation, hold a meeting to discuss evaluation results, and determine eligibility for services.
  • An evaluation examines all areas that are impacted by a child’s suspected disability (academic, social/emotional and behavioral).
  • Parent participation is welcomed and considered all along the way.

Step 2: Eligibility Determination Meeting

The team will meet with the parent(s) or guardian and determine (based on all the data available) whether a child is eligible for special education services.  The team must determine that the underachievement of a child suspected of having an educational disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction.

Before identifying a student as educationally disabled the team must also provide documentation of under-performance as measured by formal assessments of student progress given at regular intervals during instruction. These outcomes are provided to the child’s parents.

Eligibility Categories for Special Education:

  • Intellectual Disability
  • Hearing Impairment (including deafness)
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Visual Impairment (including blindness)
  • Serious Emotional Disturbance
  • Orthopedic Impairment


  • Autism
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Other Health Impairment (such as ADHD)
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities


In addition to the above disabilities, a student must also require related services and special education instruction.

Step 3: Development of Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

If a child is found eligible for special education the district has 30 days to write an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).
The IEP is a written document that describes what services a student will receive.  This includes annual measurable goals, objectives, levels of performance, etc.
Parent participation is welcomed and considered all along the way.

Step 4: Placement

When the IEP is agreed upon, the team discusses placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).  Generally speaking, LRE refers the idea that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are non-disabled.

The child’s placement is determined at least annually, is based on the child’s IEP; and is geographically as close as possible to the child’s home.
Unless the IEP of a child with a disability requires some other arrangement, the child is to be educated in the school that he or she would attend if he/she were non-disabled.
A child with a disability is not removed from education in age-appropriate regular classrooms solely because of needed modifications in the general education curriculum.

Step 5: Progress Monitoring

IEP goals are monitored continuously and parents receive a written update at least quarterly, in some cases this occurs much more often.
The IEP itself must be reviewed at least once a year.
Children are reevaluated at least once every three years to make sure that the IEP team has current information on which to base decisions.
Parent participation is welcomed and considered all along the way.

Discharging from Special Education

There are four reasons why a child may be discharged from special education in New Hampshire:

1.The student graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma.

When this occurs the district is required to a written summary of the child’s academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the child in meeting the child’s post-secondary goals.

2.The team determines, after a review of data, that the student no longer has an educational disability and does not need special education and the parent consents to this determination. Parent input is also considered in making decisions about eligibility.

If a parent disagrees with discharge, the student remains identified until the matter is resolved.

The team must conduct a reevaluation in accordance with ED 1107.01.  This reads as follows:  If the IEP Team and other qualified professionals, as appropriate, determine that no additional data are needed to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, and to determine the child’s educational needs, the public agency must notify the child’s parents of—-(i) That determination and the reasons for the determination; and(ii) The right of the parents to request an assessment to determine whether the child continues to be a child with a disability, and to determine the child’s educational needs. The public agency is not required to conduct the assessment described in paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section unless requested to do so by the child’s parents.

Class work and school performance a major factor.  Standardized testing (NWEA, NECAP) is also considered.

3.The student turns 21.

4.The student moves out of the ConVal district; ConVal would discharge the student to that new district.

**For a more detailed review of the special education process please refer to the New Hampshire Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities direct link posted or contact the SAU #1 Special Education Office at 924-7503.

NH Department of Education Complaint Information

NH Special Education Procedural Safeguards Handbook