Mainstream education sometimes does not meet the educational needs of children. A “one size fits all” education has difficulty helping children succeed academically when they have emotional and social issues, health issues, learning deficits, and sensory processing issues. If issues like these are impeding your child’s academic performance, a critical first step in helping your child is getting an evaluation of your child to determine eligibility for special accommodations at school. Before stepping into the realm of the
Exceptional Student Education (ESE) department, however, parents should educate themselves about how the system works. Here are five facts about the educational system that have often surprised parents trying to get help for their children, with strategies for how to get the best response for your child:

1. The process for having your child evaluated for special accommodations is filled with roadblocks.
What you Can Do: The first step is to put in writing that you are requesting a comprehensive psycho-educational assessment. These are done by a psychologist.

2. A verbal request to your child’s teacher is not sufficient when it comes to getting a comprehensive assessment.
What you can do: It is essential to put your request in writing and to send it to the school principal and the Exceptional Student
Education (ESE) director at your school.

3. If your child is assessed and accommodations are recommended, accommodations are not automatically provided in the classroom.
What you Can do: An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting is necessary to enforce the accommodations in the classroom.

4. Sometimes schools make mistakes in their comprehensive assessments.
What you Can Do: If you disagree with the comprehensive assessment done by the school you can apply for an IEE (Independent Education Evaluation). An IEE will give you a second opinion from a private psychologist.

5. In some cases the special accommodations public schools offer are not enough.
What you Can do: If you are dissatisfied with the special services offered in your public school you can apply for the McKay Scholarship. The McKay Scholarship is a fund designed for public schools to pay for the private education of your child.

Helpful Link:
This link is the ESE Policy and Procedures Manual for each school district in Florida. Simply select your district and view/save/print the manual. It is very helpful in understanding how your district defines criteria for qualifying for services and how it implements the various components of its ESE program.