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Special Education Evaluation And Assessment Timelines


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Last Updated on October 28, 2021 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

What are the timelines for holding special education IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings after an assessment request, getting an assessment plan and completing assessments? Here are the rules so you can get your school district to follow the law!

Legal Timeline To Complete an Evaluation for Special Education

If a parent sends correspondence requesting a student be assessed for special education, how fast does the school have to complete the initial student assessment and hold an IEP meeting? Sixty (60) days from the date they receive back the signed assessment plan.

Per United States Code 20 USC section 1414(a)(1)(C):

  “Initial evaluation shall consist of procedures-
(I)  to determine whether a child is a child with a disability … within 60 days of receiving parental consent for the evaluation, or, if the State establishes a timeframe within which the evaluation must be conducted, within such timeframe; and
(II) to determine the educational needs of such child.” (emphasis added)

In California, the timelines for student special education evaluations are further defined in California Education Code section 56344 which requires an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting within 60 days of “receipt of the parents written consent for assessment.”  

Once a parent signs and returns the assessment plan, the 60 day timeline starts ticking for the student’s assessment and future IEP meeting to be held by the school.

Exceptions to 60 Day Mandate

The only exceptions to this rule listed are when the student transfers from one educational agency to another, or the parent “repeatedly fails or refuses to produce the child for the evaluation.” Vacation days also matter.

Parents may also waive the timeline in writing.

Vacation Days Over 5 Days Impact 60 Day Timeline

Vacation days in excess of 5 days, and/or days between regular school sessions/terms do not count in the 60 day calculation. If a referral for student special education assessment is made less than 30 days prior to the end of a school year, the evaluation must be done and student IEP meeting held within 30 days after the new school year starts.

Assessment Plan Must Be Provided Within 15 Days To Parent

Additionally, the student assessment plan must be provided to a parent within 15 days of the date of a referral for special education.  Referral can be made by parent submission of a letter requesting evaluation.  

If a referral for special education evaluation is made within 10 days of the end of the school year, the plan must be provided within 10 days of the start of the next school year.  [see California Education Code section 56321].  

Vacation days in excess of 5 days and/or between sessions similarly do not count in the timeline calculation for the provision of the assessment plan.  

Parent Has 15 Days To Return the Plan Signed

On receipt of an assessment plan, a parent has 15 days to return the plan to the district.


Special education lawyer Michelle Ball helps parents and students with qualifying for special education and obtaining a free assessment for students from school districts. As a Sacramento California student special education attorney, Michelle Ball can assist parents and students throughout the state, including in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Tahoe, Burbank, Fresno, Sonora, Folsom, Jackson, Auburn, Roseville, Rocklin, Granite Bay, Newcastle, Vallejo and many other locations.