Evaluation rights

Can I Refuse to Let the School Evaluate My Child?

By Barbara Hubert

My child’s school sent a letter saying they want to evaluate her for special education. I’m not sure I want them to do this. Can I refuse to let the school evaluate my child?

Barbara Hubert

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

Yes, you can refuse. The school district can’t conduct an initial evaluation without your consent.

It’s up to you whether to have your child evaluated for special education services. This is an important decision, and there are many reasons a family may decide not to do an evaluation. For example, some families may not think their child’s academic struggles are serious enough to need special education.

These families may prefer to use drills and other methods to help work on skills at home. Some families may want to try out a tutor for a while to see if their child can make enough progress with this kind of help.

Some families base their decision not to get an evaluation on a popular misconception. They may assume, incorrectly, that any child who gets evaluated will end up being placed in a “special” classroom. Many parents are understandably concerned about social stigma. If you’re one of them, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

First, an evaluation will determine if your child is eligible for special education. It’s possible your child may not qualify for these services. Even if your child doesn’t qualify, the evaluation process will give you helpful insights into how your child’s mind works. Then you can find ways to build on strengths and work around weaknesses. This can help your child make more progress in school.

If your child does qualify for special education, it’s still possible for him to stay in a general education classroom. The school would have to get your consent before placing him in a classroom that’s only for kids in special education. You get to decide whether to change your child’s classroom placement.

Ultimately, you know your child best. Your input is very important in mapping out the best possible education for him.

About the Author

Portrait of Barbara Hubert

Barbara Hubert an adjunct instructor at Hunter College, teaches grad students how to create supportive, accessible, inclusive classrooms.

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