What if you no longer want your child to receive special education services and the school disagrees? As of December 31, 2008, you have the right to withdraw your child from special education services through a process called Revocation of Consent. It’s very important that you understand what this means to your child before you choose this option.
In the past, if you wanted to withdraw your child from special education services and the school disagreed, you could request mediation or ask for a due process hearing. If the school prevailed in due process, your child could be compelled to receive special education services. But parents had (and still have) the right to refuse initial evaluations. So, the process of “exiting” the special education system could be difficult and time-consuming. The process of “entering” the special education system came down to parental choice.
In December 2008, IDEA 2004 was clarified giving parents the right to revoke special education services unilaterally. The revocation must be in writing. That means the school does not have to agree with the parents to discontinue special education services. The school can no longer request mediation or due process to compel a student to receive special education services. The logic behind this change was that if parents could refuse the initial entry into special education, they should also be able to revoke services. This is a strong position on behalf of parental choice. But this choice comes with a responsibility to understand what it will mean for the student.
What Parents Need to Know
You might be asking, “Why on earth would I want to refuse special education services the school is willing to provide for my child?” More often, parents want more services, not less! It is hard to imagine a situation where this choice would be in a child’s best interest. But the law strongly confirms that it is still the right of parent to choose whether their child is identified by the school as a student with a disability, and whether they want their child to receive special education services.
Unfortunately, there are those who believe that people with disabilities are somehow “less” than other people. They might not want their child to have a “label”. Or, a parent might just be very unhappy with their services and decide to “give up” on the system. But if your child still truly needs services, it is best to use the complaint resolution process rather than revoke services altogether.
Before you make the decision to revoke your child’s special education services, there are some very important things you need to know:
If you revoke special education services, you are turning down all of the child’s services. You can’t pick and choose the services you want to keep. Revoking your consent is not something you should use if you disagree only to a portion of the IEP proposed by the school. Please see the Dispute Resolution process for more information on what you should do when you disagree.
Revoking services means your child is considered by the school to be a student without a disability. They will be in the general education setting with only the accommodations and services available to students without disabilities.
Revocation of services releases the school from responsibility to provide FAPE. There will be no IEP, and the school is not required to perform evaluations every three years or hold annual ARD meetings.
If your child has discipline problems, they will be handled like any other general education student. Serious infractions can have very serious consequences. However, if a student is referred for disciplinary action, the parent can request that the student be evaluated on an expedited basis to determine eligibility and a need for special education services. In this case, it would be treated as a request for an initial evaluation. This can be critically important in the event you feel the conduct was a manifestation of your child’s disability. General education students are not eligible for manifestation determination review (MDR) of conduct. If your child has many challenges with behavior, it’s important for you to understand they will not have protection afforded by IDEA or ADA if you revoke services.
If you have revoked services, and later decide your child needs special education services after all, you may ask for an evaluation just as you would for an initial evaluation. The school is not necessarily required to conduct new testing. They can take all available information and determine what, if anything, is needed to determine eligibility for services (See Referral Process for evaluations). It could be that the testing is considered current and accurate.
The school district’s responsibility for Child Find is still in effect, so that if they feel your child might have a disability and should be evaluated for special education services, they can notify you with a Notice of Proposed Evaluation. You have the right to refuse these evaluations. It’s important to note that it is the district’s responsibility to do this if they believe a child needs services. It is not harassment if the school presents you with a Notice of Proposed Evaluation every year, even if you refuse every year.
As a general education student, your child will be responsible for participating in standardized assessments. They will be required to pass these assessments according to the same guidelines as all other general education students. For instance, if you have a child nearing graduation, they will be required to pass an exit level assessment (TAKS or STAAR EOC). Also, there are other milestones where passing the STAAR is required to be promoted to the next grade (see the Student Success Initiative for more information). Students receiving special education services may be eligible to take STAAR, STAAR-Modified or STAAR-Alternate. If you have revoked services, your child will only be able to take the STAAR general assessment, and to only receive accommodations that are available to students without disabilities.
If you revoke services, graduation requirements will be the same as for any other student without a disability. Your child will not be able to graduate by IEP or stay in school until age 21. They will need to fulfill the credit requirements of the graduation plan, whether that is minimum, recommended, or distinguished program. Rules are based upon the year your child enters ninth grade.
For more information, please see the TEA Revocation of Consent Question & Answer document as well as Guide to ARD Process.
Parent Revocation of Consent Q&A
TEA Revocation of Consent Question & Answer document
Legal Framework for the Child Centered Process – Guide to the ARD Process Addendum
Federal Register – Dept of Education Rules and Regulations December 1, 2008