Referral to the Child Study Team (CST)

What is a Referral?

A referral is the first step in the special education process.  It requires a formal written request that a student be evaluated by the CST to determine whether a student is eligible for special education and related services or by the speech/language specialist to determine whether a student is eligible for speech/language services.  

Who Can Refer?

Students may be referred for determination of eligibility for special education services or for a speech/language evaluation by instructional staff, school administration, parents/guardians, and/or state agencies including the Department of Education and agencies concerned with the welfare of students. N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.3(a)3.

How Can Parents Request a Referral?

Parents may send a written request for a referral to the school’s Child Study Team or directly to the Director of Student Services, Micki Crisafulli. Referral request must be sent or dropped off at the school or the district’s administration building, and must be an original letter with signature. As per Board of Education policy #2460, email requests are not accepted.

Referral letters should include details of the parent or guardian’s concern and why they believe the child might have a disability. This information is very important to the Child Study Team members as they gather information in preparation for the referral meeting. 

How Can Teachers Request a Referral?

Teachers are required by special education code to provide students with interventions in the classroom, and to refer to the building’s Intervention and Referral Service (I&RS) for ideas and support in helping students. It is important that all intervention steps are followed to ensure that appropriate supports are in place as soon as possible. If supports in the general education program, including AIS (Accelerated Intervention Service) and other tiered interventions are not effective, or when the nature of the student’s educational problem(s) is such that an evaluation without delay is warranted, a teacher can refer a student for evaluation. Teachers complete a referral packet with all documentation of interventions and supports put in place and the results of those interventions. The referral packet is signed by the building principal who ensures that the legally required process has been followed, and then sends the packet to the Director of Student Services.

When Should a Student Be Referred? 

When interventions in the general education classroom are inappropriate or ineffective, the student should be referred to the Child Study Team (CST), or when the concern is related to a speech disorder or a language disorder, the child should be referred for a speech/language evaluation. 

Once a Student is Referred, What Happens Next?

Following referral, the parents/guardians and student (if appropriate) are invited to a meeting that must be scheduled within 20 days of receipt of the referral (excluding school vacations other than summer vacation).  They will meet with the entire CST and one or more of the student’s general education teachers to review the student’s needs and determine if evaluation should occur.  Meeting attendees are asked to sign an attendance sheet. 

Based on a review of available information about the student’s educational progress, a decision is made at the meeting as to whether a CST or speech/language evaluation is warranted.  If evaluation is warranted, the nature and scope of the CST or speech/language evaluation is discussed.  If it appears that the problem can be alleviated with interventions in the general education program and the student has not participated in the I&RS process, there may be a decision not to conduct an evaluation, but instead to refer the student to the I&RS team for development of an intervention plan.  If the student is already participating in the I&RS process and evaluation is not warranted, the I&RS plan can continue to be adjusted.

If there is an agreement to perform an evaluation, a written plan is developed at the meeting, describing the nature and scope of the evaluation.  Written consent for an evaluation is required by the student’s parent/guardian.  Consent can be provided immediately at the conclusion of the meeting or at a later point.  Evaluations can only begin after the parent/guardian has provided written consent.  The district has 90 days from the date written consent is obtained to complete the entire evaluation, eligibility, and placement process.  Preschool-aged students can be referred so that the evaluation and eligibility process is completed in time to receive services upon attaining the age of three.

If it is determined that an evaluation is not warranted, a student may be referred back to I&RS or for other community-based or school-based services.

Parents will receive written notice of the results of the evaluation planning meeting.