My child has learning difficulties. Does the school have to help?

1. Understand how exceptionalities are identified

Your child does not need a diagnosis from a doctor or health professional to be identified with an exceptionality. But a diagnosis can help the school better understand your child's exceptionality.

Exceptionalities can be identified formally or informally.

Formal identification

Only an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) can formally identify a student with an exceptionality. You can learn more about the IPRC process in Step 2.

Informal identification

A teacher or school official can informally identify your child with an exceptionality. For example, they might informally identify your child while they are waiting for the official decision from the IPRC or when your child first enters the school. This will allow the teacher to start giving your child special supports before the formal identification decision from the IPRC.

Benefits of formal identification

Sometimes an informal identification will be enough to get your child the support they need. You may feel like the formal IPRC process is unnecessary. But a school or teacher can change or cancel an informal identification at any time, even if you disagree. But only another IPRC can change a formal identification. So in most cases, it is better to get a formal identification from an IPRC so that the identification can't be changed or cancelled suddenly.

It is also easier to access resources and get appropriate accommodations if your child has a formal identification through an IPRC. If a school does not follow the recommendations of an IPRC, it may be easier for you to prove that the school is discriminating against your child. So schools are more likely to follow the IPRC recommendations for a formal IPRC identification because they do not want anyone to bring a discrimination law suit against them.

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