What happens when you switch schools during the evaluation process

At a glance

  • If a child transfers midway through an evaluation, the evaluation still has to be completed.

  • The previous school has to send records to the new school.

  • The new school has to complete the evaluation as quickly as possible.

Changing schools is a fact of life for many kids, especially those in military families or foster care. When you transfer to a new school in the middle of an evaluation, you still have the right to have the evaluation completed — and promptly.

Here’s what the law requires.

Both schools have to cooperate.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the schools must work together to complete the evaluation as quickly as possible. Your child’s new school has to ask for your child’s education records, including all test results. And the previous school has to cooperate and hand over records.

The law is clear: Transferring to a new school shouldn’t stop or unnecessarily delay an evaluation.

It’s a good idea to get copies of all your child’s records before the transfer. This protects you in case any files get lost in the transition. You also can help the process by checking with the two schools to make sure records are being requested and received.

The new school can do entirely new testing.

Once the new school has your child’s records, it can decide to continue the previous school’s evaluation or conduct its own. The law allows the new school to redo the evaluation (or even some tests). This may happen if a student transfers into a school that has a different evaluation process or that requires new testing.

The evaluation must be completed promptly.

IDEA requires that schools finish initial evaluations within 60 days of parental consent. (If the state has a different timeline, that can be used.) This rule prevents the new school from delaying the evaluation.

But issues can come up. Imagine a child who transfers 50 days after an evaluation starts. This would leave the child’s new school only 10 days to finish the evaluation. Such a short time frame could shortchange the child.

In cases like this, parents and caregivers can agree to give the new school more time. If the new school is making progress on the evaluation, and you and the new school agree to a specific time for completion, then time can be extended.

The law is clear: Transferring to a new school shouldn’t stop or unnecessarily delay an evaluation. By understanding your child’s rights, you’ll be in a good position to make sure your child’s services are put in place.

Key takeaways

  • Make sure the new school receives your child’s records.

  • The 60-day time limit to complete an evaluation still applies when a child transfers.

  • In some cases, you may want to give the new school more time to complete testing.


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