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Special education and related services are provided to students who are evaluated and meet eligibility criteria in the areas of autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, developmental delay, emotional disability, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury or visual impairment including blindness.  

Evaluations for eligibility determination may include information in the following areas:  health; vision; hearing; social/emotional status; general ability; academic performance; communicative status; motor abilities and adaptive behavior.  School personnel can explain the specific evaluations associated with each of these areas. 

Once a student is found eligible for special education and related services, the principal will assign a case manger to oversee the student’s programming.  The case manager will be the parent’s first line of contact at the school regarding the student’s special education program.  

A reevaluation will be completed at least every three years for students currently eligible for special education and related services.  The purpose of the reevaluation is to determine whether the student is still considered a child with a disability who is in need of special education and related services.  Prior to the reevaluation meeting, a Review of Existing Data meeting may be held to determine whether additional assessments are needed to determine continued eligibility.

What is the Eligibility Committee?

The Eligibility Committee is a team assembled to determine whether your child has a disability and is in need of special education and related services.

Who are typically members of the Eligibility Committee?

Parent/Guardian, Principal/Assistant Principal or designee, Classroom Teacher, Special Education Teacher, School Psychologist, related service providers, and/or others invited by school and/or family.

What is discussed?

  • Each team member (including parent/guardian) will summarize their evaluation and provide input.
  • The team will review and carefully consider information from a variety of sources, including parent input, teacher recommendations, and evaluations that have been completed and presented.
  • The team will discuss whether the evaluations and information indicate that your child meets the criteria as a “child with a disability, who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services”.

What is determined?

  • The team will work toward consensus and determine whether your child meets the eligibility criteria as a “child with a disability, who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services”.
  • If your child is found eligible for special education, he/she will be assigned a case manager.

Eligibility Guidance: Data sources and local thresholds

Federal Regulations and Virginia regulations include some terms that without additional guidance may be open for interpretation. It is the LEA’s responsibility to provide interpretation to ensure a consistent application of the regulations. RCPS has created procedures and guidance for eligibility that includes data sources and thresholds.


VDOE has provided guidance regarding eligibility at trainings encouraging LEAs to examine eligibility thresholds, data sources, and documentation requirements. The VDOE has reminded LEA’s of their responsibility to provide guidance and ensure consistency in local decision making. This RCPS guidance addresses both data sources and the quantity and quality of data to be considered within and across schools.

This guidance also reminds teams of the importance of the use of multiple sources of information for the identification of a disability and determination of educational impact and need for specially designed instruction. This guidance promotes the use of data for problem-solving, diagnostic impressions, and clinical judgement (checks and balances), and provides clarification for the difference between medical diagnosis and educational classification.

Disability Criteria Guidance

RCPS has developed additional guidance for eligibility decision making for the following disability categories (pdf files):

Tips for Preparing
Your school values your contributions

  • Reflect on your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Review the Virginia Department of Education’s definitions of “children with disabilities”. This is the criteria
  • the Eligibility Committee is required to use for identification. Consider your family’s priorities and desired outcomes for this meeting.
  • Compile any private reports (i.e. evaluations, medical reports) you wish to share, and submit them in advance of the meeting, if possible.
  • The eligibility assessment components are available two days prior to the eligibility meeting. Carefully review eligibility assessment components before the eligibility meeting noting any questions or clarifications you may need.

My Role as a Parent or Guardian

  • You are an equal and valuable member of the educational team
  • Actively participate in discussion at the meeting.
  • Be comfortable sharing your input, thoughts and any concerns you may have.
  • Ask questions and seek clarification as needed.
  • If you have concerns about the outcome of the meeting, you can ask the team about next steps, which may include options for resolving disagreements.

Note: Your consent is required for your child to be found initially eligible, and before any changes in the identification of your child’s disability.