Eligibility Services for Special Education
Eligibility Services coordinates the implementation of special education in all schools related to child study, referral, evaluation, eligibility, and reevaluation to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations and local procedures.
As a resource, parents may access the Parent's Guide to Special Education developed by the Virginia Department of Education and LCPS's Special Education Procedure manual. This guide helps parents understand their rights and responsibilities, their child's rights, and the school's responsibilities to meet the special needs of your child and includes a description of the special education process and what is required during each step of the process.
Child Find Notice for Special Education Services
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) offers a free, appropriate public education to all children with disabilities who need special education and related services, aged two to 21, inclusive. LCPS implements on-going strategies to actively and continuously identify, locate, and evaluate those children, birth to age 21, inclusive, residing or parentally placed in private schools (including those that are home-schooled or home-tutored) within Loudoun County who are in need of special education and related services.
Referrals will be accepted in written, electronic, or oral form by each school’s principal or designee for children aged two to 21, suspected of having a disability, regardless of whether the child is enrolled in Loudoun County Public Schools. Referrals may be made by any source including school staff, a parent(s), the Virginia Department of Education, any other state agency, other individuals, or a school-based team.
Within ten (10) business days of receipt, the referral will be reviewed by the Child Study Team (CST) at the student’s school of location. The Child Study Team will review records and other performance evidence of the child in order to make recommendations to meet the child's educational and behavioral needs. The team shall refer the child to the special education administrator or designee within 3 business days if the team determines the child should be referred for an evaluation for special education and related services.
Under the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia, children who are evaluated and found eligible for special education and related services have one or more of the following disabilities: Autism, Deaf/Blindness, Deafness, Developmental Delay, Emotional Disability, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Visual Impairment including Blindness.
LCPS provides a wide variety, or continuum, of alternative placements so that each child with a disability will have an appropriate individualized education program. This continuum includes
- general education classes;
- special education classes;
- special education schools;
- home-based instruction, if required by the IEP, or homebound instruction when instruction is made available to children who are confined for periods that would prevent normal school attendance and based on certification of need by a licensed physician or clinical psychologist; and
- instruction in hospitals and institutions, including state facilities.
Parents/guardians who have concerns about their preschool child (age 2 by September 30 to age 5 but not age-eligible for kindergarten) should contact LCPS's Child Find Center to schedule a free developmental screening using the following link: https://www.lcps.org/Page/220812.
Frequently Asked Questions
LCPS must actively and continuously locate, identify, and evaluate children residing in Loudoun County, who are birth to age 21 inclusive, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, who need special education and related services, including children who:
- Are highly mobile, such as migrant and homeless children;
- Are wards of the state;
- Attend private schools, including children who are home-instructed or home-tutored;
- Are suspected of being children with disabilities and in need of special education, even though they are advancing from grade to grade; and
- Are under age 18, who are suspected of having a disability who need special education and related services, and who are incarcerated in a regional or local jail in its jurisdiction for 10 or more days.
Referrals will be accepted in written, electronic, or oral form for children aged two to 21, suspected of having a disability, regardless of whether the child is enrolled in public schools. For school-aged children, referrals are made to the child's school principal or designee. For preschool age children, referrals are made to the LCPS Child Find Center. Referrals may be made by any source including school staff, a parent(s), the Virginia Department of Education, any other state agency, other individuals, or a school-based team.
Within 10 business days, the principal or designee will schedule a Child Study Team meeting and invite the parents. The referral will be reviewed by the Child Study Team (CST) which includes the referring source, as appropriate, the principal or designee, at least one teacher, at least one specialist, and one member who is knowledgeable about alternative interventions and about procedures required to access programs and services that are available to assist with children’s educational needs. The team will review records and other performance evidence of the child in order to make recommendations to meet the child's educational and behavioral needs and determine whether to refer the child for an evaluation for special education and related services.
Evaluations are completed by qualified professionals typically comprised of a school psychologist, educational diagnostician, social worker, and other specialists in the areas requested by the Child Study Team. Following completion of the psychological and educational assessments and prior to the eligibility meeting, parents are invited to a conference to discuss the assessment results.
All written evaluation reports will be made available at your child's school no later than two business days before the eligibility meeting. Evaluation reports for preschool aged children referred by the Child Find Center are available at the Administration Building (21000 Education Court, Ashburn, VA 20148). Approximately three weeks before the eligibility meeting, you will receive an official meeting notice stating the date, time, and location of the meeting.
The evaluation process for determining eligibility for special education and related services must be completed within 65 business days from the date the referral was made by the Child Study Team.
The existence of a medical condition alone does not automatically qualify a child for special education and related services. The team must also determine whether or not the medical condition results in an adverse impact on child's educational performance and requires specially designed instruction.
The eligibility team includes the special education designee for the school, qualified school evaluators, a qualified special education teacher, the child’s general education teacher (or, if your child does not have a general education teacher, a general education teacher qualified to teach a child of your child's age), a person qualified to conduct diagnostic examinations of children, and the parents.
Eligibility meetings are generally 45 to 60 minutes in length and follow this process:
- Meeting participants are introduced and the eligibility process is explained
- The referral concerns are reviewed
- Each evaluation requested is summarized
- Other relevant information including parental input and private evaluation reports are discussed
- Disability categories are discussed for consideration
- Eligibility criteria for specific disability categories are carefully considered and documented based on the available information
- An eligibility determination is made based on the consensus of the committee
A child with a disability is eligible for special education and related services. This term includes a child who is evaluated and determined to have:
"Autism" means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Autism does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance. A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria in this definition are satisfied.
"Deaf-blindness" means simultaneous hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.
"Deafness" means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects the child's educational performance.
"Developmental delay" means a disability affecting a child ages two by September 30 through six, inclusive: 1. (i) Who is experiencing developmental delays, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development, or (ii) who has an established physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay; 2. The delay(s) is not primarily a result of cultural factors, environmental or economic disadvantage, or limited English proficiency; and 3. The presence of one or more documented characteristics of the delay has an adverse affect on educational performance and makes it necessary for the student to have specially designed instruction to access and make progress in the general educational activities for this age group.
"Emotional disability" means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance: 1. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; 2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; 3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; 4. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or 5. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. Emotional disability includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disability as defined in this section.
"Hearing impairment" means an impairment in hearing in one or both ears, with or without amplification, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.
"Intellectual disability" means the definition formerly known as "mental retardation" and means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
"Multiple disabilities" means simultaneous impairments (such as intellectual disability with blindness, intellectual disability with orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.
"Orthopedic impairment" means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
"Other health impairment" means having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, and sickle cell anemia and Tourette syndrome that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
"Specific learning disability" means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; of intellectual disabilities; of emotional disabilities; of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
"Speech or language impairment" means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, expressive or receptive language impairment, or voice impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
"Traumatic brain injury" means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
"Visual impairment including blindness" means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
The Special Education designee, usually the assistant principal of the school, will provide information relevant to instruction to the child's teachers or any appropriate committee, such as the Child Study Team.
If you disagree as the parent/guardian, you have the following options:
- You may write a member statement stating your disagreement with the eligibility decision.
- You may request an Administrative Review of the eligibility decision within 10 business days of the eligibility meeting by contacting the Supervisor of Special Education Procedural Support. Upon approval, a new eligiblity team will convene to review the same information and make a new eligibility decision.