Federal Law - IDEA PART B

MA Regulations 603CMR 28.00 - all sections

Federal Law - Definitions Under IDEA

Massachusetts  Advisories


The information on the following pages emphasizes key points, re-iterates answers to frequently asked questions and explains some of the processes used in Arlington from a parent’s point of view.  You must read the full text of the laws themselves to be fully informed.


Eligibility for Services


The Massachusetts Laws pertaining to eligibility can be found here.


The KEY POINTS to determining Eligibility:


  1. Does the child have a qualifying disability?
  2. Does that disability impede effective progress at a rate commensurate with your child’s unique individual potential (603CMR28.02(17))?
  3. Are they making that progress; academically, socially, and emotionally?   
  4. Does the child require specially designed instruction to make that progress or require a related service or services to access the general curriculum?


Within 30 school days of your consent to evaluate the evaluation(s) must be completed. Within 45 school working days from the submission of the consent to evaluate the team must meet to discuss eligibilityand, if eligible an IEP must be written.  


You are entitled to a copy of evaluation report(s) within 48 hours of the meeting but it is your responsibility to request a copy.


Meeting Participants:



Click here to see the flowchart used to determine eligibility for special education services.


If your child is not diagnosed with one of the clearly defined disabilities yet they fail to make adequate progress in academic areas you should read further about specific learning disabilities on the MA DESE website here.


When discussing eligibility, academic services are not the only consideration.  Do not lose sight of the fact that one day the student will graduate and become a member of the community.  With that in mind, the ultimate goal of special education and/or services in school is to insure the student, upon graduation, will be able to function in society and our community as independently as possible.  This requires that thought be given to services which might be necessary for a student's social and emotional development; functional skills development; and all non-academic skills required to prepare the student for further education, employment, and independent living. Case law, Dracut Public Schools, BSEA No: 08-5330 , supports this contention.


If your child is found eligible for special education services an IEP is written.


If your child is found not eligible you should receive a clear written explanation for this decision along with information about your rights.  There is an important Administrative Advisory from the DESE on this issue that can be found here.


Always feel free to review a denial with PQA or PIRC(See right).  Your child may still receive help, although not special education services, in the form of “504 accommodations”.


Massachusetts PIRC

(Parent Information & Resource Center)

Telephone: (617) 236-7210,

(877) 471-0980 (in MA)


General Questions, help finding support, services, legal help, determining what your child may need:



(Program Quality Assurance)

 Telephone: 781-338-3700


Questions about special education procedures: