Millburn-Short Hills Special Education Committee

Special Ed Process

An Overview of the Special Education Process

                The Special Education Cycle


The Referral is a formal (oral or written) notification to the local school system that a child is experiencing learning or developmental difficulties and may require a full evaluation for early intervention or special education and related services.

A referral may be made by a family, teacher or other individual.

A written request documents the referral and starts a timeline.

In New Jersey a school-based team will meet within 10 business days following the receipt of the referral. If the referral information suggests that the child should be evaluated for special education and related services, the team must refer the child to the special education administrator within 3 business days.


An Evaluation is the process of collecting information about a referred student’s learning needs through a series of individual tests, observations, and talks with the student, the family and others. This information is used to determine whether the child has a disability as well as the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs. The evaluation is conducted at no cost to parents. Parents are members of the team reviewing the evaluation data and deciding whether more information is needed.

Independent Evaluation

If parents disagree with a test given during their child’s evaluation process, they have the right to request an independent evaluation (IEE) conducted by a qualified person who does not work for the school.

Parents may request that the school pay for the IEE.
 However, the school may ask for a due process hearing to show that its initial evaluation is appropriate.

Even if it is decided that the school does not  have to pay for it, parents have the right to an IEE. If parents pay for the IEE, they determine whether or not to share the information in the IEE with the school.


Based on the results of the evaluation, a team decides if a child is Eligible to receive early intervention or special education and related services. 

Parents are members of the eligibility team and receive documentation of the determination of eligibility at no cost.

Who is Eligible?

Children with:



Development delay

Emotional disability

Hearing impairment, including deafness

Intellectual disability

Multiple disability

Orthopedic impairment

Other health impairment, including ADHD

Specific learning disability

Speech or language impairment

Traumatic brain injury

Visual impairment, including blindness

Individualized Education Plan

The IEP is a written statement describing the specially designed  program developed to meet the needs of the individual child. Parents are to be members of the IEP team and participate with school personnel in the development of the IEP.

The child should also participate in the IEP decision making process as early as possible.

When is an IEP written?

 • For a child NEW to special education

 • For a child who has been re-evaluated within 30 calendar days
    after the eligibility decision.

 • For a child who already has an IEP:

 • At the beginning of the school year

 • At the end of the year for annual review

 • Within 30 days of a requested update from the parents or school.


What is on the IEP? 

• Present levels of academic achievement and functional performance

• Measurable annual goals

• Plans for measuring progress

• Participation in state and division-wide assessments

• Special education, modifications and related services to
   be provided including dates and locations

• Participation with children without disabilities

• Secondary transition services including rights at age of majority


What is "Least Restrictive Environment?"

A placement decision is made at the IEP meeting – identifying the location of the appropriate school program and services needed to meet the child’s educational goals on the IEP statement.

Students with disabilities are to be educated, to the maximum extent possible, with children who are not disabled. This is called the “least restrictive environment” or LRE.

The IEP team must consider placement closest to the child’s home, where he or she            would attend if not disabled, unless the IEP indicates that another school is appropriate.

If the student is not receiving services with nondisabled peers, the school should consider extra-curricular activities or other ways for the student to interact such as:

Occupational therapy
Physical therapy



Speech and language therapy

Audiology services

Interpreting services

Early identification

Diagnostic services

School health/nurse services

Social work services

Crisis Intervention

Assistive technology

Non-academic services

Extra-curricular activities

Orientation/mobility training

Rehabilitation counseling

Psychological services

Parent counseling and training


Instruction and Monitoring

Parents and school personnel must work together to make the IEP and placement work for the child. Parents are to be kept regularly informed of their child’s progress as defined in the IEP.

Annual Review

The purpose of the Annual Review is to make decisions about changes in the IEP, review the placement, and develop a new IEP for the year ahead.


Transition Planning

Transition planning is careful preparation by the student, parents, educators, and other service providers, for the time when the student leaves high school.

Required before the age of 16 (by age 14 in New Jersey). – or younger if appropriate

The plan is written in the  Individualized Transition Plan.

The IEP Transition goals should relate to: education, training employment, and independent living skills (if appropriate)

The transition services must take into account a student’s strengths, preferences and interests. By age 16, the IEP must include a statement of interagency responsibilities and linkages.



Re-evaluation occurs at least every three years, (unless the parent and school personnel agree that it is not necessary) or if a child is not making expected progress and a parent or teacher requests one (unless the specific evaluation requested is less than a year old).

Special Education is individually designed instruction that meets the unique needs of eligible children from age 3 to 21. Our public schools are responsible for evaluating and providing services for all children living in our school district.

Children from birth to age 3 may be eligible for Early Intervention Services. You may contact the Essex County Special Child Health Services at (973) 857-4663 to request an evaluation of your child.


DISCLAIMER: Information contained in this website is intended for educational purposes only. Given that the laws that govern special education are continually changing, always consult the New Jersey Special Education Administrative Code regulations to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. For any remaining questions, you should consult an attorney who specializes in special education law in this state.