Q: I think my child may need special education. What should I do?
A:  Talk with your child’s teacher and if your child’s struggles are not typical, send a written request to evaluate for a potential educational disability to the special education team at your child’s school.  This is a referral and you should have a response within 15 days of the school receiving the referral.  The team will meet with you and your child’s teacher(s) to determine whether or not to evaluate.

Q: Who do I contact to make this referral?
A:  Your letter asking for evaluation can be addressed to the special educator in your child’s school, to the principal of your child’s school, or to the Director of Special Education in Nashua. 

Q:  Why is an evaluation needed? 
A:  IDEA and NH Rules for the Education of Children with Disabilities require particular areas to be assessed with a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about your child.  It is the whole picture that must be considered in determining whether or not your child has an educational disability and needs specially designed instruction.

Q:  How long does it take to do the evaluation?
A:  The School District has 45 calendar days from the date of your consent to evaluate in which to complete the evaluations and discuss the written report with the team.  The team which includes the parent(s) reviews the evaluation report and decides on eligibility.

Q:  Who makes that decision?
A:  The team reviews all the information and comes to consensus on the decision.  Parents are always important members of the team.  The team also must include an LEA* (person who is knowledgeable about the curriculum and can commit district resources….usually the principal or special education administrator), a special educator, your child’s teacher, and any related service providers. *LEA means Local Education Agency

Q: Who are related service providers?
A:  Related service providers include speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and school psychologists.  These professionals may provide support and services that are designed to assist the child to access the general curriculum.

Q:  How long does it take to get an IEP once my child is found eligible for special education services?
A:  The team has 30 days to develop a draft IEP and meet with you after you have consented to eligibility.

Q:  My child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder but the school says that he doesn’t qualify for special education.  Why would that be?
A:  A disability (or diagnosis) by itself does not mean that a child qualifies for special education.  There must be a documented need for specially designed curriculum.  There are many strategies used in classrooms that are not special education but help students to progress in the general curriculum. 

Q:  If my child is found eligible for special education, how is educational programming/placement determined?
A:  The team is required by federal and state special education law to provide programming in the least restrictive environment, typically in the general education classroom with appropriate supports and services as determined by the IEP.  More services and smaller settings are considered if necessary for the child to progress adequately in the general curriculum. 

Q:  I’m new to Nashua and my child has an IEP.  What do I do? 
A:  First, register at your neighborhood school and provide copies of  the IEP, evaluation reports, and any other school documents you have.  You may also be asked to sign a release of information so that the new school staff can get more records and speak directly to teachers at the prior school.  The special education team will set up a meeting with you to review the documents.  The team has to accept and implement the IEP with reasonable changes.  More evaluations may be needed based on NH criteria.  Your child is entitled to receive appropriate services during this time. 

Q:  What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan?
A:  An IEP provides specialized, individualized instruction with goals and objectives for your child.  A special education case manager will take the lead in developing the IEP, will implement and monitor the IEP, and will be your main contact for any questions or concerns you have about special education.
A 504 Plan provides accommodations for a student.  An example of an accommodation is extra time to walk between classes due to an orthopedic problem. 
 
Q:  Can my child get any help if he/she doesn’t qualify for special education? 
A:  Nashua has a strong commitment to supporting student learning.  Teachers are expected to differentiate instruction.  Response to Intervention and Instructional Consultation are used in many of our schools.