School District Must Assess a Student if Dyslexia is Suspected But Parent Cannot Dictate What is Assessed

In Letter to Kelly Unnerstall, the Office of Special Education Programs (“OSEP”) followed-up its October 23, 2015, Dear Colleague Letter (“DCL”) and provided more guidance regarding the use and diagnosis of dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia by a special education team.

Specifically, the parents’ asked whether a student can be diagnosed with dyslexia by a multi-disciplinary team provided by the school district and have that diagnosis to determine eligibility, or does a parent need to provide an outside evaluation for dyslexia to be recognized. As explained in the DCL, OSEP reiterated that a label for a specific disability is not required for a student to receive services. Further, once a potential disability is suspected, the student must be assessed by the school district in all areas related to the disability. This process applies to all suspected disabilities, including dyslexia.

Accordingly, a parent does not need to provide an outside evaluation for the student to receive services related to dyslexia. OSEP also pointed out that under IDEA, parents are not entitled to dictate the areas the school is to assess.  Finally, OSEP noted that a licensed physician could evaluate and diagnose a student for dyslexia for special education and related services.

Issues of eligibility for specific learning disabilities continue to impact school districts in light of response to intervention.  Contact Michelle Todd or Stephanie Jones with your special education inquiries.

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