If a parent suspects their child has a disability (or has a diagnosis) and needs special education, he/she should make a referral to the school or LEA (local education agency, which is another term for the “school district”). A teacher, doctor, therapist or anyone may make a referral.  The referral should be made in writing and explains why you believe your child may have an educational disability.

We have a Sample Referral Request that you can use to make a referral.

A child doesn’t have to be failing to make a referral.  It can be made if there are discipline issues, unsatisfactory performance on group achievement tests, extreme and ongoing anxiety about school, difficulty getting along with others, or a medical diagnosis of a disability.  If the referral comes from someone other than the parent, including from the child’s teacher, the parent must be immediately notified in writing that a referral has been made.

Who do I send it to?

If parents suspect or knows that their child has an educational disability, they may make a request to the superintendent, special education director, classroom teacher, building principal, or other appropriate individual to have their child evaluated for special education consideration.

The referral should be in writing, including the child’s name and the reasons why you suspect the child may have an educational disability.  Parents should also make sure that it’s dated and keep a copy of it for their own records.


Next Step => What happens after a referral is made?