Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am a lay Parent Advocate assisting parents of children with disabilities in school IDEA, 504 and SST meetings. I am a former CHADD and LDA Coordinator, graduate of the 1st GA Advocacy Office PLSP legal training course and most importantly parent of two children with various disabilities.

Friday, August 26, 2011

OT Evaluations, not observations --- 12 weeks of RTI --- DOE DL Updates

FYI – Due to continued non-compliance issues regarding these matters, I am again posting information related to these areas.  Like parents, I’m frustrated with dealing with these same issues from year to year.  We have been dealing with this non-sense since we addressed it with Nancy O’Hara in 2008.


Advocacy & Consulting Services - IEPadvocate4you
Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

IEPadvocate4you also now on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter


"There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." ---- Thomas Jefferson

“Refrain from Restraining, Secluding and Corporal Punishment” ---- Carol Sadler, Advocate

GNET=GetNoEducation/Therapy=PsychoNOed=Jail without jury or trial=Imprisonment without legal representation


Information contained in this communication is confidential and privileged. It is not meant to represent legal or medical advice, but rather advice given based on my knowledge as a trained Parent Advocate by the GA Advocacy Office, Council of Parent Advocates & Attorneys, CHADD, LDA, the GA DOE Parent Mentor program as an invited guest and the special education attorneys that I often work with on educational matters. Please do not forward without my permission.



From my IEPadvocate4you professional FB page:

We as advocates have dealt repeatedly with some of the same non-compliance issues over and over again in various counties, but esp. in Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett.  Esp. regarding Evaluation timelines, OT Evaluations and RTI.

Fulton County is still stating it is their FCBOE policy to do OT observations first, before providing full and comprehensive evaluations.  As you can see in the DL Update below, this is a compliance issue and violates Child Find and Evaluation procedures.  If a parents requests an OT or PT evaluation as a part of a comprehensive evaluation, they are suppose to provide it within the 60 day timeline.

Several districts (Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett) are routinely telling parents that Eligibility for Speech/Language, OHI and other eligibility areas require 12 weeks of RTI.  This is NOT true.  Only SLD (Specific Learning Disability) requires 12 weeks.  All other Eligibility categories must be considered within the 60 day time-line.

Additionally, they tell parents they must collect RTI, then they will make a recommendation for testing.  This is NOT appropriate and constitutes a delay.  They can and should collect all necessary RTI at the same time they are conducting the evaluations.  This DL Update also addresses this issue as well.

You can access the DOE's DL Updates at  .  Today I requested that they add back all DL Updates from the 2008-2009 school year because Nancy O'Hara addressed several compliance concerns that we kept bringing to her attention and I want to make sure parents still have access to those records.


Parental Request for Evaluation - September 08 DL Update

We have received a lot of questions and comments about parents directly requesting an evaluation to determine if their child is a child with a disability. It seems that even when parents are directly referring their child, many schools are refusing to conduct an evaluation and telling parents that 12 weeks of interventions are required prior to initiating an evaluation.

This is inappropriate and is actually contrary to guidance contained in the IDEA Implementation Manual. First, the parental rights clearly state that parents may refer their child for an evaluation. When a parent submits a request or asks for an evaluation, then the school or system has an obligation to consider the request immediately.

The school or system may respond by meeting with the parent and explaining other resources or avenues for assistance (such as tiered interventions or SST). Many parents are unaware of such resources. If the parent continues to request an evaluation, the school should either initiate the evaluation process by obtaining the parental consent to evaluate and providing a copy of the parental rights or provide prior written notice to the parents (with all required components) explaining why they are refusing to provide the evaluation and a copy of the parent rights. In most circumstances, the school should explain to the parent the dispute resolution options available to them to try to obtain an evaluation.

Once the evaluation timeline is initiated, the school can also conduct tiered interventions during this evaluation period and gather data to inform the eligibility decision. The parent may have information about interventions they have tried also. An eligibility decision should be made prior to the conclusion of the 60 day timeline. If there is not adequate information, then the child is not eligible at that time, but may be considered again in the future if data indicates the need to reconsider. Remember that the only eligibility category that requires a specific number of weeks of intervention data is specific learning disability (SLD).

For young children coming from a home environment or even home schooled children, the timeline also should begin upon direct referral. Many systems are providing the parents with a packet of interventions to try and requesting that they keep data. That is one option for gathering information, but some parents will be overwhelmed and unable to provide data. Another method for gathering information about what has been tried includes simply interviewing the parents or caretakers about what they have done or what has been tried. This needed data should be gathered within the 60-day timeline for evaluation rather than delaying the evaluation period.

The other issue that continues to come up is the question of a comprehensive evaluation when conducting initial evaluations to determine whether a child is a child with a disability. The evaluation, by federal definition, should be comprehensive enough to identify all possible disabilities and the educational needs of the child. When a referral is made for an initial evaluation, the evaluation should include current data available on the child and other information provided by the school and the parent. For example, if the student is referred and his problems are reading and handwriting, the comprehensive evaluation would include information to determine why he is struggling with reading such as processing evaluations as well as motor evaluations to determine why handwriting is a problem. Although PT and OT are considered a related service, if the problems noted are part of the referring issue, then those evaluations should be completed as part of the initial evaluation to determine if the child is a child with a disability and what his or her educational needs are.

Please refer to the IDEA Implementation Manual for more information about these procedures in the sections on Child Find, on Evaluations and Reevaluations and on Eligibility Determination. Also please remember that professional judgment should be used at all times to manage timelines and determine eligibility and do so with the student’s best interest in mind.

Nancy E. O'Hara

Director, Division for Special Education Services

Office of Standards, Instruction and Assessment

Georgia Department of Education

1870 Twin Towers East

Atlanta, Georgia 30334

404 657-9959

404 651-6457 Fax