EI Law Update – January 2011

RTI & Head Start Referrals

The federal government has published a position on Response to Intervention for children ages 3-5. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services published its position on this issue on 6/2/10.

Q. Can school districts use pre-referral intervention for children in Head Start before evaluating for special education eligibility?

A. No. Pre-referral intervention, or Response to Intervention (RTI) is only to be used when a child is suspected of having a specific learning disability, which is generally not applicable to Pre-K children.  IDEA does not address the use of RTI for other disabilities. States must comply with Child Find requirements and permit referrals from any source, including Head Start.  Once Head Start refers the child, the school district must conduct an initial evaluation to determine eligibility.

Q. Can RTI be used to evaluate the child referred by Head Start?

A.IDEA is silent about informing parents of their right to request an initial evaluation upon referral. Only a copy of the procedural safeguards is required.  The Center on Response to Intervention in Early Childhood,http://www.crtiec.org/, is now doing research on the effect  of multi-tiered instruction for Pre-K children.