What Parents can expect after a referral for services has been made

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

There can be lots of tension and emotion when a parent makes a decision to request a meeting for referral of services. Once the referral referral letter is drafted, parents often have questions about what should be happening once the ball begins to roll.

Here's a question I received from a parent whose child's school had bypassed the legally mandated referral process and enlisted a 504 plan instead; which had been unchanged and ineffective for two school years. Mom was worried that the act of making a formal request would off-set or cancel out whatever supports she already had in place. The 504 plan included home schooling for 2.5 hours a day on the days she missed school due to her anxiety disorder. Absences were increasing and mom needed a plan to get her back into the classroom; but had received little help from the school. No one had ever made a referral to the IEP team and mom was unaware that she had the right to request a meeting (take a peek at a sample letter ). She emailed with concerns about how the school would react and I'll give a break down of my response to her:



Hi Mrs. Ayesha

Before I give the office this letter, should I inform them I had some help with it, because of some of the [legal] information I have now included?   Also, with these time lines that are mentioned in the letter, what happens with home schooling and getting her back to school?  I emailed the principle about the home school and she told me she has someone for math but not for ELa [English/language arts] . Also when do I reschedule the 504 appointment?  And should I inform them that I have you as Julia school Psychologist that will work with us? Sorry for so many questions.                             

thanks,  Mrs g




You don't have any obligation to give any information about  what you know or how you know what you know. But I am going to assume the school isn't being hostile and they are welcoming of you finding additional ways to support your daughter. As far as the 504 meeting, I would reschedule it for as soon as you submit the letter to the principal. Just because you are making a request to get further assistance doesn't mean all the efforts you've been making are to be put on hold.


She should still be receiving all the recommendations from the 504 plan. It could take some months to complete this Referral process and your daughter can NOT afford to miss anything else. We are attempting to close a learning gap not make it worse, so expect to be doing 2 processes at once till the best one is solid and in place at school. 


Email the letter and hand in a printed copy (time stamps are important). These timelines are very easily discoverable by anyone online; on the DOE website in particular. These dates and times are very clear; which is why I was surprised that you weren't directed to this information in the first place as a resource. you are more than welcome to leave any details out except for the actual request/referral. the timeline stands whether they know you know it or not. It may be helpful to them to know that you are aware and will hold them accountable for the dates. 


The real work will come once they do schedule the meeting and talk about how to go forward. this is where there is likely to be some sort of resistance because you are asking them to perform tasks that they will have to follow through with. And if the team does come to the conclusion that evaluation is necessary, several meetings will follow to ensure the following actions are taken:

  • the actual classification and approval followed by 

  • goal setting for the IEP,

  • collaborating with the school to set the best Academic Behavioral and Social Emotional goals and then

  • then follow up with the team to ensure that they are actually fulfilling their part of the goal requirements. 


Bring along support for these meetings. There will be an assigned School Psychologist on the team. You are more than welcome to suggest using the school psychologist you've been working with (me!). I'm willing to go to the district and work on listing myself as an independent psychologist which will make this request more attainable for the school. However, If they already have another School Psych that they refer to for CST meetings. You can bring anyone you want to the meeting-you could bring your whole family if you need to lol! This is about collaborating to find a solution, not intimidation or to pressuring anyone into doing anything other than honoring your child's rights under IDEA.


Here's the link to look through: Maine Special Services Parent Handbook .

Please don't assume that because your child doesn't have what you or the school considers to be a typical "disability," these rights don't apply to you.


Medical issues that present as a barrier to learning are classifiable disabilities that warrants special education services. A medical issue is considered to be a barrier if it creates an achievement gap: the gap between what she is capable of vs. what she's presenting at school academically behaviorally/physical AND social-emotionally. you can only find this out thorough formal evaluation. Sometimes 504 plans get the job done. we are going this far because the current plan isn't getting the job done.  And what's the job?


FAPE and LRE! this sums up her rights as a school aged citizen in the US.

Right now, your daughter's school is violating those rights, and may not even know it. They are obligated to meet her needs as a school receiving Federal funds. 

FreeAppropriatePublicEducation In the  Least Restricting Environment!

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