Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE)

Student AttendanceNew Jersey Administrative Code for Special Education (N.J.A.C. 6A:14and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004are laws that ensure children with disabilities get a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. An important part of these laws provides parents the right to participate in their child’s education.

The following is an overview of parental rights in special education and pertinent information for parents wanting their child tested:
What is a referral?

A referral is a written request for an evaluation that is given to the school district when a child is suspected of having a disability and might need special education services.

Who can make a referral?

  • Parents
  • School personnel
  • Agencies concerned with the welfare of students, including the New Jersey Department of Education

If a parent believes that their child may have a disability, he/she may refer the child for an evaluation by submitting a written request to the school district.

What happens when a referral is made?

Within 20 calendar days of receiving a referral, the school district must organize a meeting to decide whether an evaluation will be conducted. If an evaluation will be conducted, additional decisions are made to determine types of testing and other procedures that will be used to decide if the child needs special education services. If an evaluation will not be conducted, recommendations may be made with respect to interventions or services provided in the general education setting.

How are decisions made about a child’s special education needs?

Decisions regarding a child’s special education needs are made at an IEP meeting/staffing. As the parent of a child who has or may have a disability, the parent has the right to participate in meetings regarding the following:

Identification (decision to evaluate);
Evaluation (nature and scope of assessment procedures);
Classification (determination of whether your child is eligible for special education and related services);
Development and review of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP);
Educational placement of your child; and reevaluation of your child

The parent is considered a member of the multi-disciplinary team comprised of qualified persons who meet to make these determinations and develop a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The parent has the right to:

  • Have an interpreter, translator or sign language interpreter provided by the school at no cost, when necessary;
  • Participate in required meetings through other means such as individual or conference telephone calls or video-conferencing if available and a parent cannot attend in person; and
  • Receive a copy of the evaluation reports(s), documentation and information that will be used for a determination of eligibility not less than 10 calendar days prior to the eligibility meeting.

Students with disabilities are protected under federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as state law. These laws require school districts to provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to eligible students. This means that children with disabilities are entitled to special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs. If parents believe that their child may need special education services, they may request that the district evaluate the child. The Department of Education does not have the authority to make individual determinations about a specific child’s evaluation, eligibility, individualized education program (IEP), or placement. That responsibility is a requirement of the local school district and the IEP team. Children with disabilities have protections in the law to safeguard their rights to a FAPE. 
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