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.


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 say.


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.