Skip to main content

Expert Q&A

What do you do if the school refuses to test your child for learning disabilities?

My daughter attends middle school in Ohio. Last year, I requested testing to see if she needed an IEP. It never happened. She has been struggling for some time now. She has asked many times for help from her teachers and they would angry and embarrass her so she stopped asking for help. It got to the point that I had a hard time getting her to go to school. This year, the school is retaining her in the seventh grade. I feel she is getting treated very unfairly and is being deprived of a education. Is there anything I can do?

Thank you so much.

Dear Julie,

If your child is not doing well in school and you suspect she has a disability, you have a right to request that she be evaluated for special education. You have apparently done this, though it is unclear whether you made the request in writing. If not, you should do so in writing immediately.

When the school receives a written request for evaluation for special education, it must either agree to conduct the evaluation, and obtain your informed consent for what the evaluation will include, or notify you of the refusal to conduct and evaluation and of your right to request an impartial due process hearing to challenge the refusal. It is unclear from your question whether you have had your child privately evaluated.

Sometimes where the parents are able to obtain a thorough outside evaluation, this can cause the school to reconsider its refusal to evaluate the child. Under some circumstances, some schools may even accept the private testing in lieu of some of the testing the school would have otherwise been required to conduct. If your child is being retained, there is clearly a significant problem with her academic progress.

Those problems may be due to a disability, though that is not necessarily the case. You can protest a retention decision to your school district’s superintendent and board of education, but that does not address her need for special education. To address that problem, you may need to obtain outside testing, request a due process hearing, or file a complaint with the state education department.

In any event, you would be wise to seek advice from someone at your state’s Parent Training and Information Center ), and/or from a knowledgeable special education advocate or special education attorney.

Note from LD OnLine: For more information on what should happen in an evaluation, visit Evaluation: What Does it Mean for Your Child.

Back to Top