Changing schools is a fact of life for many children, especially those in military families or foster care. If your child transfers to a new school in the middle of an evaluation, he still has the right to have the evaluation completed—promptly.
Here’s what the law requires.
Both schools must 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 must ask for your child’s education records, including all test results. The previous school must 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 for you to get copies of all your child’s records before he transfers. That will protect 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 conducts 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 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 can agree to allow the new school more time. If the new school is making progress on the evaluation, and parents 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.