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The Eligibility Conference

Once the evaluation is completed, you, a group of school professionals, and any private providers you choose to assist you advocating for your child will meet to interpret your child’s evaluation results. Together you decide if your child has a disability and is eligible for special education and related services as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


If the group decides that your child has qualifies for special education, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be written either at the same meeting or a later one scheduled within 30 school days.

Consider asking for the eligibility conference to be separate from the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting.

  • Whether your child is eligible for special education services will be determined at the eligibility conference. Most of the time schools request that the eligibility and IEP meetings be held together so that assessment can be directly linked to any changes needed in your child’s education.

  • Considering the amount of information to be discussed and absorbed especially during the initial eligibility conference, you may want to have the meetings separated so that you can prepare for each meeting.

Request and read the evaluation report before the conference.

  • You need to understand the assessments that were performed, why they were performed and what they indicate. If necessary meet with the school professional who conducted the testing and have him/her explain it to you.

  • Discuss it with your child’s outside providers before the conference and consider having them accompany you to the meeting.

If the report indicates that the child has a disability, the disability must impact the child’s school performance in order for him or her to qualify for an IEP.

  • Not every disability qualifies a child for special education. You should make sure you understand how a child’s particular disability impacts his or her performance. Be prepared to gather information and discuss how you think your child’s disability impacts his/her educational performance.

  • Depending on the services needed, a 504 Plan may be more appropriate for your child than an IEP.

Consider whether the special education category selected for your child is the one most appropriate.

  • Your child may be eligible for services under more than one special education category. The team will consider  the options and choose the most appropriate category.

  • Your child’s specific needs will be addressed by the IEP regardless of the category under which he/she is eligible.

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