Resources

ESAs

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) were expanded in 2022 with House Bill 2853! This scholarship gives families 90% of the state budget’s funds per student directly to families. Any student in grades K-12 can receive an ESA and parents can apply for an ESA year round. ESAs can be used to pay for private school tuition, home education, tutors, curriculum, therapies, and more. [ Learn more ]

ESA applications can be completed online at any time! The scholarship, however, is awarded in four, quarterly disbursements:

Q1: July 1 – September 30 Q2: October 1 – December 31 Q3: January 1 – March 31 Q4: April 1 – June 30


Applications can take up to 30 days to process (from when a completed application is submitted) and the final determination is sent via email. During this process, the AZ Department of Education is unable to provide any updates about an application’s status. The best course of action while waiting is to regularly check your email while waiting for your application to be processed.

Families will receive ESA funds based on the quarter the contract is signed. For instance, if a parent signs a contract at any point during Q1 (July 1 – September 30), they’ll receive Q1 funding. [Learn more]

Visit azed.gov to find the Approximate ESA Funding Amounts but a child with no disabilities usually receives around $7,000 per year. This can go, for example, up to $34,000 per year for a child with an autism diagnosis. To see the annual amount you will get with a disability, click here.

ESAs can be used to pay for private school tuition, home education, tutors, curriculum, therapies, and more! Find a full list of eligible expenses from the Arizona Department of Education here.

The funds are deposited in an ESA account where you can pay approved vendors directly. You can also submit eligible expenses for reimbursement. It takes about 3 weeks to set up and fund a new ESA account. The AZ Department of Education and the state Treasurer’s office processes new ESA accounts. [Learn more]

By receiving a special education evaluation privately or through your school district! We can support you in that process – start here! [Learn more]

Yes there is! You can join thousands of other families in our Facebook community here, ask questions, and make friends!

Tax Credit Scholarships

Tax credit scholarship programs give families with limited financial means the ability to enroll their children in the private school that works for their child and meets their unique needs. Thousands of Arizona children are benefiting from Arizona’s tuition tax credit programs as they attend the private school that works for them. Tuition Tax-Credit Scholarships are often referred to as “STOs” for short. STOs are School Tuition Organizations that are authorized by the state to collect tax credits and distribute them to schools and students. You can find a complete list of registered tax credit organizations that can process individual tax credits and offer scholarships here . [ Learn more ]

Here’s the process in a nutshell!

  1. An Arizona resident donates to an STO and can recommend a school or student(s) as the recipient(s). 
  2. The donor gets a state tax credit document and then receives those funds back, dollar for dollar, after their state taxes are filed. 
  3. Families can apply for scholarships from one or more STOs. 
  4. STOs issue notices of awards on a quarterly or monthly basis. 

[ Learn more ]

Ask your friends and family via text, making a phone call, sending postcards, or posting on social media. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends LOVE to donate to an STO for tax credit and recommend your child. Just check with your chosen STO for the specific directions to pass on to your friends and family. *Important note: You cannot trade or give tax credit scholarship recommendations with anyone on the condition of receiving one from them – ie – you can’t swap recommendations. [ Learn more ]

There are several Tax Credit options in Arizona! Usually the STO application process is easy and allows you to apply at the same time to each scholarship option that you may qualify for simply by checking a box. Families may qualify for one, or all of these tuition tax credit scholarship options:

 

  1. Original Individual Income Tax Credit
  2. Switcher Individual Income Tax Credit
  3. Corporate Low Income Tax Credit
  4. Corporate Displaced Student or Students with Disabilities Tax Credit (DD STO)


[ Learn more about each tax credit option here! ]

Corporate & Individual Tax Credit Programs

Corporate STOs are funded by
corporate taxpayers (businesses, stockholders, etc.) and provide private school scholarships for eligible students. Corporate STOs offer tax credits to corporations. Corporations with Arizona tax liability can redirect up to 100% of their tax liability to a state-approved STO and receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits. In contrast, individual STOs are funded by individual taxpayers and provide scholarships for private school students. Similar to corporate STOs, they offer tax credits to individual taxpayers who donate to approved STOs. Individual taxpayers can claim a tax credit equal to their contribution to an STO.

Here are some examples of corporate and individual tax credit scholarship programs!

Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

This enables individuals to support STOs. Participants receive tax credits for donations made to these organizations, which provide scholarships to K–12 students to attend private school. Any child who attends private school grades K-12 (or a preschooler with disabilities) in Arizona qualifies!

“Switcher” Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

The “Switcher” program allows individuals to claim tax credits for supporting STOs that provide private school scholarships to students. To be eligible for this tax credit scholarship, your child (1) attends an Arizona public or charter school as a full-time student for at least 90 days and transfers to a qualified private school, (2) is enrolled in a qualified private school kindergarten, (3) is a dependent of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Arizona under military orders, OR (4) previously received a Switcher or Corporate scholarship and has attended private School continuously since. Your child only needs to meet ONE of the conditions listed. 

Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

This provides tax credits to corporations financially supporting STOs that offer private school scholarships to low-income students. To qualify, your household income must be 185% or less of the income level set by the USDA’s Federal Reduced Lunch guideline. According to House Bill 2095 § 43-1504(a) your child qualifies if they meet one of the following criteria: (1) qualifies for the “Switcher” Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program, (2) is entering kindergarten or is a preschooler with a disability, (3) is a dependent of a member of the U.S Armed Forces stationed in Arizona under military orders, OR (4) has continued in private school since receiving a scholarship from any of the tax credit scholarship programs in the prior school year.

Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program

This program offers tax credits to corporations supporting STOs that provide scholarships for special needs or foster care students to attend private schools. To qualify, your child either has a documented disability or has been placed in the Arizona foster care system. The scholarship amount depends on the student’s eligibility and the services their disability requires.

More Resources:

Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

“Switcher” Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program – EdChoice.Com

Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program – EdChoice.Com

Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program – EdChoice.Com

 Program Eligibility & Restrictions – APSTO

Tax Credit Guide – YES Fund for Kids 

Every STO has different opening and closing dates for their scholarship applications. Most open in the spring, but some are open year-round. Talk to your STO(s) to confirm application dates! [ Learn more ]

No, sadly you cannot recommend your own child. But you can ask grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends to recommend them! [ Learn more ]

No. You cannot make an agreement with a friend to trade STO recommendations. [ Learn more ]

It depends on the scholarship you choose/qualify for and how much recommended dollars have been given to any STO for your family or school. Here are some broad guidelines:

  • ORIGINAL Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship: Students can receive scholarships from this category up to the amount of the school’s posted tuition, based on available funds and recommended dollars to your student. 
  • SWITCHER Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship: Up to the amount donated with a recommendation for your child! Students can receive scholarships from this category up to the amount of the school’s posted tuition.
  • “Corporate Low Income” Tax Credit Scholarship: Up to the amount of the posted tuition but no single STO can give over the Arizona Dept. of Revenue maximums that are listed each year.
    • For example: Scholarship Limit per STO for Kindergarten through 8th grade is $5,900 and 9th through 12th grade is $7,700. No STO can give over these amounts, but parents can receive multiple low-income scholarships from multiple STOs, up to the amount of tuition. These numbers are for the 2022-23 school year. New numbers will be given by the AZ Dept. of Revenue in May 2023.
  • Corporate Displaced Student or Student with Disabilities Tax Credit (DD STO): The scholarship award amount that you can receive under DD STO depends on the child’s qualifying disability diagnosis on their MET/IEP/504 plan. The amount is calculated from a charter that the Arizona Department of Education provides to the Arizona Department of Revenue for STOs and is equal to 90% of what that year’s state based aid is for that child’s disability diagnosis. Each STO has a chart that they use to calculate this amount, but it is not listed publicly. You must reach out to the STO for amounts.
    • For Example: If you have a child with dyslexia – the maximum amount of DD STO funds they can receive from one, or more STOs is around $6,600. They can not receive more than this, and most families apply to several STOs to get up to that maximum amount that is set by the state. These funds can be stacked with the individual and switcher funds. 

[ Learn more ]

School Options

Arizona is a leading state for school options! You can choose from public schools, charter schools, a wide variety of private schools, microschools, online academies, homeschooling, and more! Need help deciding which option is right for you? Our Parent Support Specialists are ready to support you. Start here !

Open Enrollment in Arizona 

What’s Open Enrollment?

In Arizona, Open Enrollment allows you to enroll your child in any public school in the state, regardless of where you live, as long as there’s space. This includes schools in different districts, different schools within your local district, or even charter schools. Districts must provide their open enrollment policies in English and Spanish, which can also include transportation options, such as providing transportation up to 20 miles each way for students with disabilities or IEPs.

Do I Have to Pay?

No, in Arizona, public schools cannot charge tuition for transfer students, as per A.R.S. § 15-816.01, making this option completely free.

How Can Parents Find the Best Public School for Their Child?

To find the best public school for your child, start by researching various schools to identify the best fit. You can also visit different schools to explore your options further. For example, you might consider choosing a school closer to your workplace rather than your home. Also, keep in mind that each traditional public school may have different teaching methods and atmospheres. For instance, you might prefer a school with a particular teaching approach that suits your child better. 

How Do I Open Enroll My Child?

To enroll your child in a public school, you need to apply. Once you’ve found suitable options, visit the school’s website to locate the open enrollment application. Some schools offer online application submissions, like The Scottsdale Unified School District Schools, while others may require you to apply in person, such as Sunny Slope High School.

What Documents Do I Need?

The required documents may vary slightly depending on the school. Generally, you’ll need proof of your child’s age and identity, proof of residency, current immunization records, parent/guardian identification, a withdrawal form (if previously enrolled in an Arizona school), guardianship/custody documentation if applicable, and a copy of an IEP/504 Plan if applicable.

What Comes After the Application?

After submitting the application within the designated time frame, wait for notification from the school regarding acceptance or placement on a waiting list. If accepted, follow the enrollment instructions provided by the school, including providing any additional documentation and attending orientation sessions if required. Stay in touch with the school to ensure a smooth transition for your child. Additionally, be mindful of deadlines and specific requirements outlined by the schools open enrollment policies.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the open enrollment process, feel free to reach out to [email protected]. We’re here to help!

More Resources:

The School Tour: Things To Look For & Questions To Ask – KidsGuide 

Top 20 Questions for a School Tour – Washington Parent

Effective Questions for Parents to Ask… When looking for a school for your child with special needs – AJE

Choosing a school: Where to start as a parent – Raising Arizona Kids 

The Ultimate Guide to a Public School Transfer (Open Enrollment) – School Choice Week 

Thinking about homeschooling? Arizona is very friendly to homeschooling! You will have the choice to homeschool independently or home educate using an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA). Our Parent Support Specialists are ready to support you. Start here !

According to ARS §15-802(G)(2), Homeschool means a nonpublic school conducted primarily by the parent, guardian or other person who has custody of the child or nonpublic instruction provided in the child’s home.

Homeschoolers are parents or legal guardians who choose to educate their own children at home in at least the required subjects of reading, grammar, math, science, and social studies pursuant to ARS §15-802. [ Learn more ]

Parents who decide to homeschool are required to file an affidavit of intent to homeschool and provide additional documentation with the county school superintendent. This must be done for any homeschooled child and should be submitted to the county school superintendent within 30 days of starting to homeschool. You will only need to file this document once.

The affidavit requires notarization and the original must be sent to your county school superintendent’s office along with original proof of your child’s birth. You may not send in any copies of birth certificates, original documents only will be accepted. Most families choose to mail in their documents, and the County will then mail the original birth certificate (or other proof of birth) back to you once they have made a photocopy for their records. Please see a list below of superintendent offices and contact the appropriate office for more information.

If you decide to stop homeschooling, you must contact the county to complete the necessary paperwork to revoke your homeschool affidavit. You also need to update your address or any other records with the County should you move. The affidavit is available online at each County website below, or on www.afhe.org . [ Learn more ]

A public district school is the traditional style of public school. Each district covers a geographic region of the state and typically oversees multiple schools. Every school within a district generally teaches the same curriculum, which is approved by board members who are chosen through district-wide elections. By default, students are assigned to the local school that corresponds to their neighborhood, but families may opt for a different district or charter school through Arizona’s “open enrollment” process. [ Learn more ]

A charter school is an independently-run public school, not associated with a district. Charter schools are founded by private or public bodies under a contract, or “charter,” outlining their terms of operation and accountability standards. Charter schools are subject to statewide academic standards but receive exemptions from various regulations, which allow them to experiment with educational designs and programs. Students from any district can apply to a charter school. [ Learn more ]

Families across the United States are now looking into options like Microschools and Micro-pods or Learning Pods. Arizona is home to a brand new and innovative model of schooling known as “microschooling” – which is gaining attention as families are considering the educational options they have for the upcoming school year. Additionally, families are curious about forming small groups together where a teacher or parent teaches – which is being called a micro-“pod.”

If you’re interested in trying to find a micro-pod in your area with other families – Love Your School is working to connect like-minded families in similar geographic areas.

Microschools are in most cases small groups (8-10 kids) meeting in a home, office, or studio. Adults, often known as teachers or “guides” help shape the learning experience for kids and work alongside them to set daily goals and help kids take responsibility for their work and days. [ Learn more ]

Special Education Evaluations

What is a Learning Disability?

Learning disabilities affect a child’s ability to read, write, do math, socialize, and use or understand language. An individual with a learning disability may struggle in more than just one area. 

According to the National Institute of Health, learning disabilities “are caused caused by differences in the brain, most often in how it functions but also sometimes in its structure.” These differences may be present due to family traits, prenatal issues, trauma, or exposure to toxic substances. Because of the differences in the brain, the brain processes information differently. 

Learning disabilities are lifelong challenges, and learning disabilities not only affect a person in school but can also impact them at work and in their everyday activities. However, learning disabilities have zero to do with the student’s intelligence.  A person with a learning disability is not lazy or dumb. Their brains are simply wired differently. With the right tools, a student can still excel in their education, even with a learning disability!

The most common types of learning disabilities are dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, apraxia of speech, central auditory processing disorder, and nonverbal learning disorders. However, learning disabilities can differ from kid to kid. One might find reading and spelling challenging, while another could be a book enthusiast but struggle with math. Then there’s the one who might have trouble grasping what others are saying or expressing themselves. The issues are diverse, but they all fall under the learning disability umbrella. 

If you think your child has a learning disability, you should request an evaluation. Don’t adopt a “wait and see” approach, which is common advice from schools and well-meaning friends. An evaluation can help both you and your child’s teacher know about your child’s strengths and weaknesses and open a “toolbox” of support to help your child shine. In addition, many schools won’t provide services unless an evaluation is done, so it’s a great first step into better understanding how your child’s mind works, and how they can be best supported in their education!  Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents have the right to ask for a FREE special education comprehensive evaluation for their child, even if you are homeschooling or in a private school. This is true nationwide! Check out our site for a detailed guide on how to make that initial eval happen. You can also reach out to Love Your School for input and support at [email protected]! If you’ve got more questions, we want to hear from you!

More Resources:

Common Symptoms of a Learning Disability – The Mayo Clinic 

CDC’s Developmental Milestones – The Center for Disease and Prevention

Learning Disability Basics – LD OnLine

Types of Learning Disabilities –  Learning Disabilities Association of America

You can obtain a special education evaluation privately (private pay) or through your school district (for free, even if you are homeschooled, at a private school, or on an ESA)! We have helped so many families go through the process! Start here to be connected with a Parent Support Specialist who will assist you every step of the way.

How to Request an Evaluation (for free!)

  1. Identify the School District to request from

There are different ways to request an evaluation from your local school, and it depends on a few factors:

  1. Is your child attending a public school? (District or charter) if so – you will request an evaluation from the special education director at your school. It should be done in writing.
  2. Is your child homeschooled or on an ESA and educating at home? If so – you will request an evaluation from the Director of special education at the District your child resides in (such as Scottsdale Unified etc). You can find this information online or we can help!
  3. Is your child enrolled in a private school? If it’s a non-profit private school, you will request an evaluation from the Director of special education at the District the private school is in. If it’s a for profit private school, you will request an evaluation from the Director of special education at the District your child resides in (such as Scottsdale Unified etc). 

NOTE: If your child is enrolled in private school, you can notify the special education coordinator at the private school that you want an evaluation, but you can also start the process completely on your own by emailing your request to the district. 

Remember – the public school system is legally required under federal law to find and identify students with disabilities. This is why parents can request evaluations from districts, free of charge. It’s called federal Child Find. 

  1. Document the Request in Writing

Your request to evaluate can be a few short sentences, but it should always be done in writing via email. You can look at this sample letter for guidance. We recommend you grant consent in your request for an evaluation. This is specific terminology that “Starts the clock” on your request. Sometimes, districts can delay a parent’s request by claiming they have not received consent from the parent. Putting this consent in your initial request makes it clear that you have given consent already. 

  1. Be Clear

Clearly articulate the reasons for your evaluation request, offering specific details regarding concerns like academic challenges or behavioral issues. If your child has received a diagnosis from a doctor or another professional indicating a disability, include this information. In Arizona, the district has 15 days to schedule a “Review of Existing Data” meeting to discuss your request and look at any information you may have. It’s at this meeting a decision of whether or not to continue with an evaluation is made. 

  1. Follow up if its been 5 days

If you have not heard back, send a follow up email in 5 days. If you can do “read receipt” on your email to show it was delivered and opened, do that as well. 

As mentioned above, the school must respond within 15 school days of receiving your evaluation request. The school may either deny or approve the request. Many families are not aware a school can deny your request. If this happens, you will get a “Prior Written Notice” or a PWN sent to you that says why they denied this request. You have rights and options if they deny your request – reach out to Love Your School at [email protected] to learn more if you’re denied an initial meeting to discuss evaluation. You can also read our article here: Evaluations: What if the School Says “No”?

More Resources:

Special Education Tip-of-the-Day: Evaluations/Meetings – Arizona Center for Disability Law.

FAQs: Timelines | Arizona Department of Education 

Evaluating School-Aged Children for Disability | Center for Parent Information and Resources

Requesting an evaluation 

Evaluations: What if the School Says, “No”?

The public school district or charter school can only deny an evaluation if they believe there’s no evidence that your child should be evaluated for a qualifying disability. This can happen before a Review of Existing Data Meeting, or after that meeting. 

If you believe the denial was incorrect, here are some steps to take.

  1. Ensure your Evaluation Request was in Writing

Make sure your initial evaluation request is in writing. Your written request should clearly outline the reasons why your child needs an evaluation. This written record is a crucial document to the evaluation process. 

  1. Ask for a Written Explanation

The school must send you a formal letter called Prior Written Notice (PWN) to explain why they are denying your evaluation request. If their reason for denying is unclear or incomplete, you may request more details that are in writing. The school may, or may not respond to this and may rely on the PWN document for legal purposes. 

  1. Consider a Private Evaluation (at your expense)

You may want to consider a private evaluation so that you can better understand your child’s condition. This independent assessment, conducted by a professional unaffiliated with the school and funded by the family, can be shared with the school. However, the school is not obligated to agree with the results or implement the recommendations and you will have to pay for this on your own. 

  1. Request Mediation

If the situation persists, you may consider requesting mediation with the school. Mediation involves a neutral third party assisting in reaching an agreement between you and the school.

  1. File a Due Process Complaint

If the school remains unresponsive to your evaluation request, you can fill a due process complaint. This form is simple and you do not have to write pages and pages of information. In most cases you can complete it in 15 minutes! Many parents avoid this step because it can feel scary, but don’t worry! If you feel your request for an evaluation has been unjustly denied, you should file a state complaint. You can also reach out to Love Your School for input and support at [email protected]!

  1. Consider Professional Help

For additional support, you can consult with an advocate or lawyer. While there is a fee involved, these professionals can guide you through the evaluation process and help you make informed decisions on the next steps to take. You can also reach out to Love Your School for input and support at [email protected]!

 More Resources:

Why your child’s school may deny your evaluation request

Advocates: Parent Support Arizona

Evaluations Part 2: Next Steps if the School Says ‘No’ – PAVE

Raising Special Kids

School Denies Evaluation Request – Smart Kids.

Can a School District Refuse to Evaluate a Child for Special Education?

How to Request an Evaluation (Birth to 3)

You can request for your child to receive an evaluation through the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP). The AzEIP provides services for infants and toddlers, birth to three years of age, who appear to have delays or established conditions. If you’re concerned about your child, requesting an evaluation is easy, and free. 

Make a Referral

To see if your child is eligible for the AzEIP, you, or a professional, need to fill out the application on the AzEIP website. It takes just a few minutes. You can help a friend or loved one by filling out the form for them as a “referring adult”. 

Initiating the Process

When your child is referred to AzEIP, whether by you or a professional or another trusted adult, a Service Coordinator will call you within two days to discuss information about scheduling an initial evaluation, potential services and the eligibility process. If your family is interested, arrangements are made to begin the Initial Planning Process (IPP).

The Initial Planning Process (IPP)

Within ten days of the referral, a Service Coordinator will meet with you to discuss the Initial Planning Process (IPP). This process involves evaluating your child, determining eligibility, and developing the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) for those who qualify after the evaluation process.

The Screenings

If there are delays without established conditions (for example, a speech delay but no official medical or other diagnosis), the Service Coordinator will use a screening tool to identify concerns in physical, cognitive, language/communication, social/emotional, and adaptive self-help categories. In many cases, a parent or trusted caregiver will also complete an assessment of the child on paper. Based on the results, your child will either be referred for an evaluation or confirmed as ineligible for AzEIP services at that time. If there’s an established condition or a significant delay, you’ll be contacted to schedule a home visit with two evaluators for further assessments. Please note, many families are initially denied after a screening, but you can request another screening usually within 6 months, as many times as needed. It does happen that a child doesn’t qualify at say 18 months, but then when screened at say 30 months, now has delays significant enough to qualify for interventions or therapy services. 

Next Steps

If your child is eligible for AzEIP, the Child and Family Assessment will be completed. Within forty-five days of the referral, the initial Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) will be developed. This plan is a collaborative effort involving you, your family members, service coordinators, and others to set developmental goals for your child. This plan essentially outlines all the types of services, length of time, and details for the Arizona Early Intervention Program to begin helping your child. In nearly all cases, the services are free of charge, but the Service Coordinator can explain more. The IFSP will be regularly reviewed every six months, or sooner if you request, and annually, until the child is three. If your child does qualify for Early Intervention services, then a few months before your child turns 3, you will have a “transition plan” meeting for getting your child evaluated at the school district, who is obligated to provide services for students with special needs from 3+. These services are regardless if your child is enrolled in a private preschool or not. In some cases, your child can even qualify for a state funded developmental preschool after age 3 (sometimes called “PANDAS”).  

More Resources:

Families | Arizona Department of Economic Security

Part C: Early Intervention Services for Children with Developmental Delays

Department of Economic Security/Arizona Early Intervention Program (DES/AzEIP) – Raising Special Kids.

Your Child Was Determined Eligible for Arizona Early Intervention Program – Raising Special Kids

AZ Early Intervention Program – NRTA

How to Prepare for a ROED Meeting

The goal of an ROED (Review of Existing Data) meeting is to determine if there is enough information to suspect that the student may have a disability and need special education services.
If an evaluation is deemed necessary, the next steps will involve a comprehensive evaluation and, if the student is found eligible, the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to address their specific needs.

These are some questions you should answer as a parent before the meeting: 

  1. Can you provide a brief overview of your child’s strengths and challenges?
  2. Have there been any recent changes in your child’s academic performance, behavior, or social-emotional functioning?
  3. Are there any previous assessments, evaluations, or interventions that have been done for your child?
  4. Do you have any documentation or records related to your child’s academic performance, behavior, or medical history that may be relevant for the ROED meeting?
  5. What accommodations, modifications, or support services are currently in place for your child at school?
  6. What are your goals for your child’s education and how do you envision their needs being met in the school setting?
  7. Are there any specific questions or concerns you would like to address me during the ROED meeting?

Here are some questions you should ask the special education team during the meeting:

  1. What data sources have been reviewed for this student, including academic performance, behavior, and social-emotional functioning?
  2. Based on the existing data, what specific concerns have been identified that may indicate a need for special education services?
  3. Are there any areas where the student’s performance or development deviates significantly from their peers or expected progress?
  4. What interventions, accommodations, or modifications have been tried to address the student’s identified concerns, and what have been the results of these efforts?
  5. If an evaluation is recommended, what specific assessments and data collection methods will be used to determine the student’s eligibility for special education services?
  6. How will the evaluation process consider the student’s strengths, as well as their areas of need?
  7. What is the timeline for completing the evaluation and determining eligibility for special education services if the evaluation proceeds?
  8. How will the parents be involved in the evaluation process, and how will they be informed of the results and any subsequent decisions about the student’s education?

IEPs and Evaluations… What’s the Difference? 

“IEP” and “evaluations” are two important yet distinct parts of your child’s education.

An evaluation, according to the law (20 U.S.C. 1414(a), (b), and (c)), uses valid testing to check if a child has a disability and identifies any educational challenges. If the evaluation shows your child qualifies for special education, an IEP meeting is held within 30 days to create the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The IEP is like a plan for your child’s special education. It outlines the necessary support and related services that are essential to your child’s progress and success in school. It’s created by the IEP Team, which includes parents, at least one general education teacher familiar with the child, at least one special education teacher familiar with the child, a school district representative, a person interpreting evaluation results, and possibly others. You may always bring a friend or advocate with you to any evaluation or IEP meeting that you have at a school. 

The IEP sets goals, measurable outcomes, and details modified instruction (how does your child’s instruction need to change) along with timelines (by when should a child achieve a goal set in an IEP). The IEP Team should ensure that the plan is ready at the start of each school year (20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(2)(A)).  The IEP Team is required to review it at least once a year to see if goals are met, but a parent can call an IEP meeting formally at any time by emailing anyone on the team. The review should consider re-evaluation results, information from parents, the child’s anticipated needs, or other relevant matters. Sometimes, a school can forget to do a review, so it’s important for parents to set calendar alerts or make note of when you want to email the school to set the review.

If there’s a lack of progress in the child’s goals, the IEP Team should adjust the IEP. Arizona laws allow parents or the education agency to request a review in writing, which happens within 45 school days, at a date and time agreed upon by both parties. You can check out our detailed guide on our website on how to request an evaluation. 

 You can also reach out to Love Your School for input and support at [email protected]!

More Resources:

Process For Developing IEPs – Arizona Department of Education

Evaluations v. IEP Meetings: An Important Distinction – SchoolsKidsLawyer.Com

A Parent’s Guide to Evaluations, IEPs, and More – Learning Disabilities Association of America 

IEP Meeting Basics – Center for Parent Information & Resources

A 504 Plan and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are both designed to support students with disabilities, but they have different purposes, eligibility criteria, and processes. Here are the main differences between the two:

Purpose:

504 Plan: A 504 Plan is designed to provide accommodations and modifications to students with disabilities to ensure they have equal access to education. It falls under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in federally funded programs (i.e. public schools). 

IEP: An IEP is a legally binding document developed specifically for students with disabilities who require specialized instruction. It outlines the student’s unique educational needs and specifies the services and supports necessary for them to make progress in school. 

Eligibility:

504 Plan: Eligibility for a 504 Plan is based on a broader definition of disability. Your child may qualify for a 504 Plan if they have any disability that hinders learning in a general education classroom. Due to the broad nature of the eligibility for the 504 Plan, your child might qualify even if they don’t qualify for an IEP. Many parents may not know that you can get a 504 a plan for anything from your child having allergies to medical and academic challenges. 

IEP: Eligibility for an IEP is determined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Your child undergoes an evaluation to see if they qualify if they have one of the thirteen defined disability categories under IDEA, their disability affects their school performance, and they need specialized instruction. To learn more about requesting an evaluation, check out this guide on our website!

Development Process:

504 Plan: The development process for a 504 Plan involves a meeting between the student’s parents or guardians, school staff, and other relevant individuals. The plan outlines accommodations and modifications necessary for your child to participate in and benefit from the general education curriculum alongside their peers. Unlike an IEP, which must be a written document, a 504 Plan is not required to be formally written down. This means that the accommodations and modifications agreed upon for the student may be documented informally, such as through meeting notes or an informal agreement.

IEP: Developing an IEP involves a more comprehensive process. It is a written plan and includes assessments, goal-setting, and the creation of a detailed plan tailored to the student’s individual needs. The IEP team, which includes parents or guardians, educators, and specialists, meets regularly to review progress and make adjustments as needed.

Services and Supports:

504 Plan: A 504 Plan primarily focuses on providing accommodations and modifications to support the student’s access to the general education curriculum. These accommodations might include extended time on tests, preferential seating, or the use of assistive technology.

IEP: An IEP goes beyond accommodations to include specialized instruction, related services (such as speech therapy or counseling), and any other support necessary for the student to achieve their educational goals.

Legal Requirements:

504 Plan: Section 504 requires schools to provide equal access to education for students with disabilities, including the development of a 504 Plan if necessary.

IEP: IDEA mandates that eligible students receive an IEP, which provides a more comprehensive framework for addressing their educational needs.

Both 504 Plans and IEPs are designed to provide crucial support for students with disabilities, yet they each have unique roles and procedures tailored to individual needs. If you have any questions or need assistance navigating these processes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected]! If you have more questions, we want to hear from you!

More Resources: 

7 Steps to Getting a 504 Plan for Your Child – Understood.Com

The ABCs of a 504 Plan – Raising Special Kids

Process For Developing IEPs – Arizona Department of Education 

Requesting an Evaluation – Understood.Com 

Evaluating School-Aged Children for Disability – Center for Parent Information and Resources

What is the Arizona Early Intervention Program?

The Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) is a statewide program designed to assist babies and toddlers who may have disabilities or are falling behind in their development. It’s operated under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and managed by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES). AzEIP’s main goal is to provide early intervention services to children from birth to three years old to enhance development and learning potential. 

Who Can Join?

Your child qualifies for AzEIP if they’re between birth and 36 months old and either 

1. Shows Signs of Developmentally Delay

A developmental delay occurs when a child hasn’t reached about half of the things they’re supposed to do at their age in areas like physical skills, cognitive skills, communication, social and emotional skills, and self-direction. 

2. OR Has an Established Condition

A child with an established condition is a child who has a diagnosed physical or mental condition that is likely to cause developmental delay or disability (i.e., autism, deaf-blindess, traumatic brain injury, etc.). 

What’s Included?

If your child is eligible, AzEIP offers a range of services tailored to the individual needs of each child and family. These services may include developmental assessments, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, special instruction, assistive technology, and family support services. 

How Do I Start? 

Families can access AzEIP services through a referral process, which can be initiated by healthcare providers, early childhood educators, concerned family members, or the parent. It’s very quick and easy to fill out the referral form. If you need help, you can always ask a friend, family member, or teacher to complete the form on your behalf.  Once referred through the online form, the child undergoes an evaluation to determine eligibility for services. This evaluation is scheduled usually within a week or two of referral. If eligible, an individualized Family Service Plan (FSP) is developed in collaboration with the family to outline goals and interventions tailored to the child’s needs. To learn more about this process, check out this article on our website!

If you have any questions or need assistance navigating this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected]! If you have more questions, we want to hear from you!

More Resources: 

AzEIP Information –  Arizona Department of Economic Security

Part C: Early Intervention Services for Children with Developmental Delays – AzEd.Gov

Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) – Raising Special Kids.

Your Child Was Determined Eligible for Arizona Early Intervention Program – Raising Special Kids

AZ Early Intervention Program – NRTA

Eligibility for the AzEIP – Division of Developmental Disabilities 

What are the Signs of ADHD? 

According to the
NIH, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common disorders affecting children. ADHD is characterized by ongoing problems with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. If you suspect your child may have a form of ADHD, he may show signs in any or all of these areas below:

Inattentive

  • Struggles to pay attention to details and often makes careless mistakes at school or work.
  • Has difficulty staying focused during activities like lectures, conversations, or reading.
  • Seems to be inattentive when spoken to and may appear distracted.
  • Frequently fails to follow through on instructions and leaves tasks unfinished.
  • Has trouble organizing tasks and often misses deadlines or manages time poorly.
  • Avoids tasks requiring sustained mental effort, such as reports, essays, math, etc.
  • Regularly misplaces items necessary for daily tasks, like school papers or books.
  • Easily gets distracted.
  • Forgets to complete daily chores or tasks. 

Hyperactive

  • Constantly fidgets, taps hands or feet, or squirms in their seat.
  • Struggles to stay seated, especially in places like classrooms.
  • Frequently runs around or climbs in inappropriate settings.
  • Always seems to be in motion, as if driven by a motor.

Impulsive

  • Unable to engage in leisure activities quietly.
  • Talks excessively.
  • Often interrupts others or finishes their sentences.
  • Finds it hard to wait their turn, like in lines.
  • Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others, even taking over what others are doing.

Many kids struggle with sitting still, waiting their turn, paying attention, being fidgety, and acting impulsively. But kids diagnosed with ADHD stand out because their hyperactivity, impulsivity, disorganization, and/or inattention are much more pronounced than what’s typical for their age.

ADHD is diagnosed based on persistent symptoms noticeable over six months. Symptoms of ADHD must have appeared before age 12 and caused difficulties in multiple settings, not just at home. For example, the child is easily distracted at home, school, soccer practice, etc. 

If you suspect your child has ADHD and it’s affecting their education, early educational intervention is crucial. Addressing these issues early on can prevent academic and social challenges for your child. To find out how to get an evaluation to see if your child has ADHD, check out this article! IF you’re interested in learning more about getting a diagnosis, we encourage you to check with our team, or your local physician.

If you have any questions or need assistance navigating this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected]! If you have more questions, we want to hear from you!

IEE Request Letter 

Dear (Sped Director or School Administration), 

 I am writing to request an Independent Educational Evaluation for my child, NAME, DOB:_____, who was previously evaluated by the district. Respectfully I disagree with the findings of the evaluation as I do not feel it is an accurate representation of my child’s strengths and weaknesses. 

I am asking for a full psycho-educational evaluation as well as (include all areas of suspected disability from list below, however it should include all of the areas the school already tested)___________.  I have chosen the following providers to complete the IEE:___________________________________(include a provider for each eval you are requesting: psycho-educational, speech, FBA, OT, etc) 

They can get you all of the necessary paperwork needed to be a vendor/Qualified Provider if they are not already on your list.  

In order to keep records of this process, please reach out to me via email if you have any questions or need anything further from me. 

 Thank you, 

 

Areas to consider: 

*Psycho-educational Evaluation always includes Cognitive and Academic so there is no need to specify those. 

*Cognitive: Refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring, processing, understanding, and using information, including attention, perception, memory, language, and problem-solving skills.

*Academics: Refers to the skills and knowledge related to reading, writing, mathematics, and other core subject areas taught in school.

Social/Emotional: Refers to the ability to interact with others in a positive and appropriate manner, regulate one’s own emotions, and form healthy relationships.

Executive Functioning: Refers to a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for planning, organizing, initiating, and completing tasks, including working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control.

Functional Behavioral Assessment: Refers to a process for identifying the underlying causes of challenging behavior such as school refusal and developing strategies to address those causes. (This assessment is primarily used in the school setting for developing a behavior plan as a part of an IEP). 

Adaptive: Refers to the ability to perform everyday activities and tasks, such as dressing, eating, and personal hygiene, independently and appropriately.

Autism: Refers to a neuro-developmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, and behavior. Areas of concern under ASD include irregularities and impairments in communication, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements, resistance to environmental change or changes in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. 

Functional Vision and Hearing: student’s visual and hearing abilities and how they impact learning and academic performance.

Speech/Language: Refers to the ability to communicate through speech and language, including understanding and using language, social pragmatics (the use of language in social situations), and nonverbal communication.

OT (sensory, fine motor): Refers to occupational therapy, which focuses on helping individuals develop the skills necessary for daily living and functioning, including sensory processing, fine and gross motor skills, and self-care tasks.

PT (gross motor): Refers to physical abilities: The PT will assess the student’s strength, range of motion, balance, coordination, and mobility to determine the impact of the student’s physical impairment on their ability to participate in educational activities. (At time gross motor skills can be looked at during an OT evaluation) 

Other

In a district school, parents have the right to:

  • Participate in their child’s school, cooperate with their child’s teacher, and complete a parent-teacher satisfaction survey. ( ARS 15-102 )
  • Learn about the course of study for your children and review learning materials, including the source of any supplemental educational materials. ( ARS 15-102 )
  • Review learning materials and activities in advance. A parent who objects to any learning material or activity on the basis that the material or activity is harmful (because of sexual content, violent content, or profane or vulgar language) may request to withdraw that student from the activity or from the class or program in which the material is used and request an alternative assignment. ( ARS 15-113 )
  • Upon written request, parent may access instructional materials currently used by or being considered for use by the school district. The district must make available at least one copy of the instructional material to be reviewed. Parents may take printed textbooks, printed supplemented books and printed subject matter materials from the district premises for no more than 48 hours. All other materials, including films, may only be reviewed on district premises. ( ARS 15-730 )
  • Opt out of any learning material or activity that the parent finds harmful to the student. This includes material that questions beliefs or practices related to sex, morality, or religion. ( ARS 15-102 )
  • Opt in to sex education curriculum if one is provided by the school district. Without written parental permission, children cannot participate in sex education. ( ARS 15-102 )
  • Be notified in advance if content discussing sexuality is taught in other classes, such as history or literature, and the right to opt a child out of that instruction. ( ARS 15-102 )
  • Be informed about the nature and purpose of extracurricular student clubs and activities. ( ARS 15-102 )
  • Opt in to any video, audio, or electronic materials that are inappropriate for the age of the student. This means the school cannot show a rated-R movie to students under 18 years old without signed, written permission from the child’s parent. ( ARS 15-113(D) )
  • Refuse to provide information for the Student Accountability Information System that does not relate to the provision of educational services to the student. ( ARS 15-1042(D) ).
  • Be informed about parental rights and responsibilities under Arizona law, including: ( ARS 15-102 )
  • The right to opt in to a sex education curriculum if one is provided by the school district.
  • Open enrollment rights pursuant to section ARS 15-816.01 .
  • The right to opt out of assignments pursuant to ARS 15-102 .
  • The right to opt out of immunizations pursuant to ARS 15-873 .
  • The promotion requirements prescribed in ARS 15-701 .
  • The minimum course of study and competency requirements for graduation from high school prescribed in ARS 15-701.01 .
  • The right to opt out of instruction on the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) pursuant to ARS 15-716 .
  • The right to review test results pursuant to ARS 15-743 .
  • The right to participate in gifted programs pursuant to ARS 15-779.01 .
  • The right to access instructional materials pursuant to ARS 15-730 .
  • The right to receive a school report card pursuant to ARS 15-746 .
  • The attendance requirements prescribed in ARS 15-802 , 15-803 and 15-821 .
  • The right to public review of courses of study and textbooks pursuant to ARS 15-721 and 15-722 .
  • The right to be excused from school attendance for religious purposes pursuant to ARS 15-806 .
  • Policies related to parental involvement pursuant to ARS 15-102 .
  • The right to seek membership on school councils pursuant to ARS 15-351 .
  • Information about the student accountability information system as prescribed in ARS 15-1041 .
  • The right to access the failing schools tutoring fund pursuant to ARS 15-241 .

Written Request for Information: Parents may submit a written request for information related to the rights outlined in ARS 15-102 to the school principal or the superintendent. The principal or superintendent shall respond within ten days. If the request for information is denied or the parent does not receive a response within 15 days, the parent may submit a written request to the school district governing board. The board shall formally consider the request at the board’s next public meeting. ( ARS 15-102(D) )

This is a brief summary of a complex area of ​​law and is not meant as specific legal advice. Consult an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.***

[ Learn more ]

In charter schools, parents have the right to:

  • Review learning materials and activities in advance. A parent who objects to any learning material or activity on the basis that the material or activity is harmful (because of sexual content, violent content, or profane or vulgar language) may request to withdraw that student from the activity or from the class or program in which the material is used and request an alternative assignment. However, a charter school may require parents to waive the right to object as a condition for enrollment if the school provides a complete list of books and materials to be used each year before the student enrolls. ( ARS 15-113 ).
  • Opt in to any video, audio, or electronic materials that are inappropriate for the age of the student. This means the school cannot show a rated-R movie to students under 18 years old without signed, written permission from the child’s parent. ( ARS 15-113 )
  • Refuse to provide information for the Student Accountability Information System that does not relate to the provision of educational services to the student. ( ARS 15-1042(D) ).

This is a brief summary of a complex area of ​​law and is not meant as specific legal advice. Consult an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.***

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Folks! We have so many amazing stories of Arizona families who have used every education option in our state. Read their stories here !

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