SUMMARY OF REVIEW OF SPECIAL EDUCATION POLICIES AND PROCEDURES IN ILLINOIS: CHILD FIND AND EVALUATIONS 2017-2018

Over the last 8 months, select members of a subcommittee, some of whom are members of the Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois, have reviewed Illinois School District policies and procedures, specifically for special education child find and evaluations.  We were also looking at procedures for bilingual evaluation teams.

To get some of the information, Freedom of Information Requests were the vehicle. Penny Richards from LDA of Illinois, filed all those requests.  Otherwise, we reviewed what was on the district websites.

Committee members were then assigned to review each school district’s policies and procedures.  A total of 51 sets of policies were reviewed and summarized on the accompanying chart. One of the components reviewers were looking for were the barriers to evaluations, since this had been a major issue in the Chicago public schools.  We did find that two other large school districts did have similar language about the requirement for a specific number of data points prior to a referral to special education.

We were pleased to find that some school districts have the policies and procedures on their website to provide ease of access to families and educators within the district.   However 12 of the 51 districts reviewed did not have the information on their website.

When readers review the chart, they will note that some districts had very detailed plans.  However, others did not.  Some utilized what could be described as:  “boiler plate” language that simply said they refer to federal and state laws and regulations.  They referred to the IASB language.  Some said they followed ISBE rules and regulations.  There were 18 of the districts that referred to other documents.

Recommendations from our findings:

  1. We recommend that all districts include their special education policies and procedures on their website for easier access to parents and educators.
  2. We recommend that all districts review their policies and procedures to determine whether they include any language that would serve as a barrier to evaluations for students who may have special needs.
  3. When districts are utilizing language that refers to laws and regulations, there should be an effort to link individuals to those other documents.
  4. LDA of Illinois is open to reviewing any other policies and procedures concerning evaluations from school districts for which we don’t have a report.

A special thanks is due to the colleagues who were part of this process who spent many hours reviewing policies and procedures:  Penny Richards, Julieta Pasko,  Adela Weinstein,  Kathleen Loftus, Todd Putnam, and Karen Tipp.

If you would like additional information, please feel free to contact Bev Johns at:  beverleyhjohns@gmail.com

DOWNLOAD REPORT HERE.