Top of Page

Special Education Process

My student is still having difficulty. What's next?

Unless a disability is clearly suspected, special education evaluations will be triggered when students exhibit little to no progress in an area of concern even after receiving interventions.

The Special Education Process

Step 1. Identification 

There are two ways to identify a child as possibly needing special education and/or related services:

  1. Child Find

Child Find is a process for identifying, locating and evaluating children between the ages of 3 and 21 years within the district who may be eligible for special education or related services.  

2. Referral from a parent/guardian or school personnel

 A request for a Full Individual Evaluation must be submitted in writing to the principal or the case manager.  The request should be signed, dated, and include an explanation of educational concerns and any supporting documentation. 

The school must provide the parent/guardian written notice of their decision within 14 school days of receiving the request.

 Step 2. Assessment Planning Process

If the school agrees to evaluate the student, an assessment planning meeting is scheduled within 14 school days of receiving the request for an evaluation.  

The purpose of the meeting is to plan the evaluations needed to assess the child in all areas related to their suspected disability.  

Before the evaluation process can begin, the parent/guardian must provide written consent.  

Step 3.  Evaluations

The initial evaluation must be completed, and the IEP team must determine eligibility for special education and related services within 60-school-days after the date the parent/guardian provides written consent to conduct the evaluations. 

Parents/Guardians must receive copies of the draft evaluations at least 3 school days prior to the eligibility meeting.

Step 4.  Eligibility Meeting

Before the 60th school day elapses, the IEP team (including the   parent/guardian) meets to review the evaluation results and determine whether the student is eligible for special education and/or related services.

If the student is found eligible for special education, the team develops an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

If the student is not found eligible for special education, the team may consider eligibility under a Section 504 Plan.

Step 5.  Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

The IEP team (including the parent/guardian) meets to develop the student’s IEPA copy of the draft IEP must be provided to the parents/guardians at least three school days prior to the meeting. 

The IEP identifies the student’s unique needs and describes how the school will address those needs. The IEP establishes goals and identifies the supplementary aids, supports and services to allow the student to meet those goals.

The student’s IEP is reviewed by the IEP team at least once per year.  

For more information about what to do if you disagree with the IEP placement decision, visit Know your Rights

Step 7. Special Education and/or Related Services 

Before the school may provide special education and related services to the student for the first time, the parent/guardian must provide written consent.  

Special education and/or related services may begin within 10 school days from date the IEP is developed, unless a parent/guardian waives that waiting period.

Step 8. IEP Report Cards

The student’s progress toward the annual goals is measured, as stated in the IEP. IEP Report Cards are provided quarterly to inform parents/guardians about the student’s progress towards the annual IEP goals. 

Office for Students with Disabilities


773-553-1801 (Fax)

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Have Questions?

Complete and submit this form to provide feedback or request assistance and support for your child on special education topics such as remote learning.

Join the Diverse Learner mailing list to stay informed.

For questions around special education services, please contact the OSD District Representative or Special Education Administrator assigned to your school, Parent Involvement Specialists are also available.

For concerns specific to your child's school nursing services, please review this document. You may also contact us directly using the information below.

Contact Information

School Assignment Services

Student Transportation

Nursing Information
(773) 553-Kids (5437)

SSCA Helpline