65 Kids and the Law Special Education Issues Children learn in many different ways. When a child is having difficulty learn- ing or behaving at school, teachers and parents or guardians may wonder whether the child has special educational needs. Who can receive special education services? To receive special education or related services (for example, speech or lan- guage therapy) the child must: 1) have a disability, 2) because of that disability, be unable to progress effectively in school, and 3) require specially designed instruction or service to make progress. How does the school identify a child’s special education needs? The school identifies special education needs through an evaluation process. This evaluation consists of a series of assessments of the child. Different types of assessments are used based on the specific concerns raised about how the child learns (or doesn’t) and the child’s educational, emotional, and physical needs. Who can request a special education evaluation? A parent or guardian may request an evaluation at any time. A teacher or other professional may also request an evaluation. If someone other than the par- ent or guardian makes the request, the school district will alert the parent or guardian to the request and must obtain their consent before the evaluation can take place. Are there steps to take before starting the special education evaluation? There are no formal steps required, but the parent or guardian should consider expressing any concerns to the child’s teacher(s). Sometimes another profes- sional may observe the child in the classroom or other setting to see if changes Special Education Issues 7 7