Eligibility Meetings

Many parents find themselves in an "Eligibility Meeting" having no real understanding of what is happening and what they can  - and should - be doing to effect the outcome.  Whether or not your child is found eligible for services makes a tremendous difference to your immediate plans to get the very best education for your child.  s

One or two things will happen in an Eligibility Meeting:

  1. Your child is found "eligible" or "ineligible" for special services.
  2. Your "eligible" child is placed under one of the fourteen disability categories.

Parents are a part of the IEP team, and are guaranteed by the IDEA to have "meaningful participation" in the meeting. For the most part, you will sit at a table with many other professionals, and listen to them read aloud, their reports and evaluations of your child. Take note of anything you feel is errant or that you disagree with in their statements.  

At the conclusion of the last report, the team should ask the parents for comment. That is where you can state the reasons you feel your child should be found eligible, and anything you heard that you felt was errant in their reports, asking for your comments to be documented. The team will then state their recommendation giving either a finding of "eligible" or "ineligible".  If the parents disagree with the finding they at that time formally state that they "DISAGREE" and do not sign the documents, and ask for an appeal hearing. 

Tell us your experience with the  "Eligibility" stage, and what advice would you give to new parents going into it?