School districts and charter schools that fail to evaluate or delay evaluating a student because the student is receiving RTI interventions may be violating their Child Find duties. Recently one court granted parents reimbursement for private placement when the judge determined that the school failed to evaluate a student for Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) because it was providing RTI. In that case, the school district refused to evaluate a 2md grade student who was reading significantly below grade level. The school argued that the student could make some progress with classroom interventions. An independent evaluation showed that the child may have had a specific learning disability in reading and so the judge fules that the district should have evaluated the student for special education. Although RTI interventions may help students who need additional academic support, schools may not use the RTI process to delay providing comprehensive evaluations for students with suspected disabilities. The court found that the school district had enough information to suspect that the child needed special education, and so becasue the shcool did not evalute the student, the court held that the district denied the child FAPE, and awarded parents reimbursement .
Remember, school districts and charter schools have an on-going affirmative duty under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to locate, identify, and evaluate all students who MAY need special education due to a disability. Schools can find themselves in hot water if they tell parents that they have no reason to believe that the student ha an IDEA-eligible disability. Schools that can show progress using RTI may be better able to show that RTI is working, but if the student is not making progress, then the school may be denying the student a FAPE if it does not evaluate the student for special education.
For more information: KGK Law