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.
Request to Evaluate
If you see your child struggling in school and/or their teacher/a caregiver has approached
you with concerns, from a parental perspective, your pediatrician is the first place
to start. They can review your observations along with the teacher’s reports to advise
you whether your child is developing age appropriate skills and make recommendations.
Your doctor and/or the school district may prefer to give your child more time to
“catch-up”; the final decision ultimately lies with you.
In any case, for special education services or accommodations to be considered, your
child must be evaluated. Sometimes the school will refer your child for evaluation,
you do not need to wait for them to do this, you may make a “request to evaluate”.
If you decide to pursue services you must submit a letter to the Arlington Special
Education Department requesting they evaluate your child to determine eligibility
for special education services. To view an example letter, click here. If you have
had your own diagnostic testing completed you may choose to submit that as well,
if that is the case the team must convene within 10 days to discuss next steps. The
team may find that more assessment is still needed as the law requires the child
must be evaluated in all areas of the suspected disability.
It is recommended that you hand deliver all formal correspondence to the Special
Education Department located on the 6th Floor of Arlington High School (follow the
signs for the School Committee Room). Ask for a confirmation of receipt. Mail can
be sent certified, however, you will have a better gauge of timelines if you hand
deliver. Always keep copies of all correspondence, by mail or email for future reference.
In response to your request to evaluate you should receive a “Consent to Evaluate”
form (aka the N1 form) in 5(five) school days from the Special Education Department.
In Arlington, each school has a “chairperson” or team chair responsible for handling
administrative issues for children in that school. If you cannot determine who this
person is, or if you are not contacted in 5(five) days contact the Special Education
Department at 781-316-3530 to ascertain who handles the special education services
at the school your child attends. If your child is in pre-school ask for the early
childhood coordinator. If you still cannot get a response contact Program Quality
Assurance (PQA) and ask for help, their number is 781-338-3700.
When you talk to school personnel do not be embarrassed to ask questions and remind
them you are new to this process and you are learning, ask that any acronyms or processes
be explained. You don’t need to accept legal advice from school personnel. While
they may be well intentioned and believe what they tell you is true, educators are
not legal experts and some have not read the law, regulations and case law for themselves.
Read the law and regulations and know, for yourself, what the laws and regulations
If you are having difficulty navigating the special education system or your child
is newly diagnosed, particularly with a complex diagnosis, many parents highly recommend
the use of an advocate at least at the outset while you become more knowledgeable
about your child’s disability, interventions, education regulations and laws, and
the IEP process, but it is not required.