Some children are identified both as ELs and as having a disability. Under Part B of the IDEA, states and school districts must ensure that all EL students who may have a disability, regardless of the severity of the disability, are located, identified, and evaluated promptly. The evaluation determines whether the child needs special education and related services. If your child is eligible for special education and related services under IDEA, your child’s school district must ensure that a written plan called an individualized education program (IEP) is developed by the IEP team (which includes, among others, the child’s parents, and school officials). Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, schools must conduct an evaluation promptly of any student who needs or is believed to need special education or related services because of a disability.49 If a student is eligible for services under Section 504, schools often document the elements of an individual student’s services under Section 504 in a document, typically referred to as a Section 504 Plan.
49 34 C.F.R. § 104.35(a). EL students who may have a disability, like all other students who may have a disability and may require special education or related aids and services under Section 504 because of that disability, must be located, identified, and evaluated in a timely manner. 34 C.F.R. §§ 104.32 and 104.35(a)-(b). To avoid inappropriately identifying EL students as students with disabilities because of their limited English proficiency, an EL student must be evaluated in an appropriate language based on the student’s needs and language skills. For additional information, see OCR and DOJ, Dear Colleague Letter: English Learner Students and Limited English Proficient Parents (Jan. 7, 2015),https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-el-201501.pdf.