In order to be prepared for a meeting, it is important to know your forms. We’re going to break down the forms into separate blog posts because it can be confusing as there are several forms for each step. This post is for initial referrals for specialized help. Please also refer to the post The Importance of a DEC5
An excellent reference to all of the forms is the North Carolina’s Department of Public Instructions (NCDPI) page. http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/forms/statewide-forms This page tells you what each form is and even gives directions on how it should be filled out. Do not hesitate to also call or e-mail your child’s case manager with questions about the process, forms, or information you would like to see noted.
Before every meeting, you will receive a paper invitation stating the day and time of your meeting. If there is a conflict, you can write on the form requesting a second option and send it back to the school. If the day and time work, you sign the invitation and send it back to the school. You can also write in the people you are bringing to the meeting on this form. Examples would include tutors, therapists, advocates, or psychologists.
Most schools will have a draft prepared before you arrive. You can request to see the draft prior to the meeting so you are also prepared for what will be discussed. Always remember, you are part of your child’s team. You have the right to add information or even make suggestions for how some things can be worded.
At this initial referral meeting, your child’s team will first address if your child has had a recent vision and hearing screening. This rules out your child’s specific needs are not caused by any possible hearing or vision problems. You will then discuss his/her strengths in all academic and functional areas (such as reading, writing, math, gross and fine motor skills, and daily living activities). The next step will be to address any areas of concerns and any medical diagnosis your child may have. After discussing and documenting the areas of concern, your team will then decide one of three things: The first option is for no evaluations to be conducted based on the information reviewed. A statement will be written to explain this decision. If this choice is made, the special education process stops. However, there are times the team decides your child would benefit from a 504 Plan. That will be a separate meeting. For the differences in IEPs and 504s, please check out our blog post 504 and IEP’s: What’s the difference? The second option is the team determines the current data is enough to say your child qualifies for one of the 14 disabling conditions North Carolina recognizes. This most typically would happen when a child is aging in to the school district through early intervention. The third option would be to conduct evaluations. The team may decide they need more data such as a speech and language therapy evaluation or a psychological and educational evaluation. If you decide on option 3, then you will also then sign a form called a DEC 2 which gives permission for your child to receive these evaluations. The third option is the most common.
The process for a referral, which includes gathering more data through evaluations if necessary, is 90 days. The end of 90 days date will be marked on your initial referral paperwork which is also called a DEC 1.
By the end of this meeting, you should have a copy of the following paperwork: Invitation To the Meeting, the Referral (also known as a DEC1 form), the Prior Notice/DEC 5 (The Importance of a DEC5) and the Informed Consent for Evaluation (also known as the DEC 2 form) if the team decided to collect more evaluations. It is a good idea to start a new file folder or have an organized place to file these forms. That way, you can easily access them when you have questions or concerns for your child’s school or need to refer to them for counselors, etc.
Christina and Wendy