Ohio’s Office for Exceptional Children (“OEC”) found that a district did not meet its child find obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) when it neglected to evaluate a student receiving poor grades and displaying difficulties paying attention. In Shelby City Schools, 124 LRP 2694 (2024), the parent of a student emailed a district indicating that their student was struggling with test scores and that they wanted an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) evaluation. The district failed to respond to the email and never conducted the IEP.

As the year progressed, the student’s grade reports indicated that they were struggling significantly in the 2023-2024 school year when compared to the 2022-2023 school year. In its finding, the OEC noted that the student’s grades showed a significant decline in performance to which the district “had knowledge of the Student’s academic struggles.” Additionally, the OEC found that even though some interventions were in place, it was clear that the interventions were not working, and the student continued to make no progress. Therefore, because of the failure to implement interventions to help the student make progress and to conduct an evaluation when the parent requested, the OEC found that the district violated the IDEA’s child find requirement.

What does this mean for your district? As the school year comes to a close and summer is right around the corner, be sure to watch for students’ grades and look for students whose grades or test scores may be declining. As the OEC noted in this case, the fact that the student’s grades were gradually worsening and they were having an increasingly difficult time paying attention should have caused the Ohio district to take notice and evaluate the student. These possible red flags, which may be highlighted in end-of-the-year grade reports, could be a flag to districts that a child might be IDEA-eligible.