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Special Education

Student Services

Special Education

School District 118, in accordance with state and federal mandates, supports the rights of all children with disabilities to a free, appropriate public education. Students may qualify for special education services if they are determined to have a disability that is adversely impacting their educational performance and are in need of a specially designed instructional program to succeed in school. A continuum of instructional programs and services are available to eligible students who have a disability that impacts their ability to benefit from standard educational programming as determined by an Eligibility Conference and an Individual Education Plan (IEP) Conference. Special Education programs and services are offered directly through the school district or in conjunction with Southwest Cook County Cooperative for Special Education.

Pre-Referral Strategies

Each school in District 118 utilizes a RtI model special unit to assist students in general education who are experiencing difficulty that may be due to learning difference, social/emotional or behavioral concerns, attention difficulties, and/or cultural differences. The purpose of the RtI is to involve administrative, instructional, and support personnel in providing alternative strategies and interventions within the general education classroom and small group setting. If, after repeated interventions, the student does not make appropriate gains, a referral for an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education services may be appropriate.

Eligibility and Placement Process

The Eligibility Conference Team, which includes the parent(s), reviews the evaluation components and any other special reports or information in order to determine if the student meets the criteria for one or more of the categories of disability, as determined by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). If a student is found to have a disability that is adversely affecting his/her educational performance, an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) will be developed to address the needs that were identified during the Eligibility Conference. Parents are encouraged to be active participants in all meetings. If a student has a disability but does not qualify under the IDEA guidelines, the eligibility for a Section 504 plan should be reviewed and discussed.

Referral Process

The RtI team, parents, and other professionals involved with the child may initiate a referral for a special education evaluation. Prior to any formal assessment to determine eligibility for special education services, the school must notify the parents of the referral, secure signed parent permission for the evaluation, and provide parent and student due process rights. Parents may submit in writing to building principal, a request for special education evaluation. Request must include parental concern affecting child’s school performance.

Student Evaluation Process

The student will be assessed in areas related to the suspected disability. The assessments may include but not be limited to, psychological, achievement, adaptive behavior, speech and language, occupational and/or physical therapy. Other components of evaluation may include a vision and hearing screening, a health history, an academic history, and a social developmental history.

Triennial Re-evaluation

Students receiving special education services will have their eligibility for special education services re-evaluated every three years. Prior to any re-evaluation, the school will notify the parents of the re-evaluation, and provide parents and student with their due process rights.

Referral, Case Study Evaluation and Due Process Hearing


If you believe your child is experiencing problems related to your child’s education, a referral may be made to the Student Support Team. If alternative intervention strategies have not proven successful, a referral for a case study evaluation may be warranted. To make a referral for a case study evaluation, you should contact you child’s building principal, local school district superintendent, or any school official. A referral may also be initiated at anytime through coordination with early intervention programs, as a result of a screening, or concern of school personnel.

A referral can be made by school, parent or someone other than the parent. Within 14 school days after receiving a request for an evaluation, the district shall determine whether an evaluation is warranted. If the district determines not to conduct an evaluation, it shall provide written notice to the parents. The parent will be notified of the date the referral was made and the reasons for the referral. Not all referrals result in a case study evaluation being conducted. A referral for a case study evaluation does not necessarily mean that your child has a disability that interferes with educational performance. It signals that your child is having educationally related difficulties and that the person making the referral is concerned that the problem may be due to a disability.

If, after reviewing the referral information, a case study evaluation is appropriate; your written consent must be obtained to proceed with the evaluation. A request for your consent should not be misinterpreted as a decision that your child has a disability. It is important that you fully understand the reasons for the case study evaluation and support the district’s decision to conduct the evaluation. If you disagree with the district’s decision to evaluate your child and you do not give written consent, the district will not conduct the evaluation.

Case Study Evaluation

The special education rules define a case study evaluation under 23 Illinois Administrative Code 226.5 as a series of in-depth multidisciplinary diagnostic procedures, conducted within 60 school days, and designed to provide information about the child, the nature of the problems which are or will be affecting his/her educational development, and the type of intervention and assistance needed to alleviate these problems.

Once the case study evaluation has been completed, you, along with a team of qualified professionals, will meet to interpret the evaluation data. This interpretation will determine (1) if your child has a disability; (2) if the disability is having an adverse affect on you child’s education; and (3) whether special education and related services are needed. The district must notify you at least 10 days prior to the meeting of the scheduled date, time and purpose. If you cannot attend, the district must attempt to reschedule the meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and date.

If your child is determined not eligible for special education and related services at the eligibility conference, he or she may still be eligible for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


If you have unresolved concerns regarding the appropriateness of the special education program and related services provided to your child, you may request mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process in which both parents and school district personnel meet to resolve disputes with the help of a trained mediator. In mediation, both you and the local school district are brought together to discuss and consider alternative solutions to the issue, you child’s capabilities, and the concerns and problems expressed by the other party. Mediation is designed to resolve issues without going to the often more expensive and more formal due process hearing. This service is proved by the state at no cost to you or the local school district. If you disagree with the determination(s) made at this meeting, you may challenge the district’s decision by requesting a due process hearing.

Due Process Hearing

A due process hearing is an administrative hearing held to settle disagreements between you and the school district. You, or your child when he/she reaches the age of eighteen (18), have the right to ask for a due process hearing regarding the district’s proposal to or refusal to:

  • identify
  • evaluate
  • educationally place, or
  • deliver services in any aspect.

In addition, the school district may request a due process hearing for the following reasons:

  • to obtain parental consent for an evaluation or reevaluation or to prove that the district’s evaluation was appropriate

If you request a due process hearing, it must be in writing and sent to your local school district superintendent. A hearing can be requested at any time for any reason and cannot be denied by the school district.

Upon your request, a copy of the Parent Procedural Safeguards can be obtained by contacting the Student Services Office at 708-761-5806
Erin Deval

Director of Student Services

All children with disabilities have the right to a free appropriate public education under Illinois and Federal law.