Special Education Timelines (For California)

Note: This document is intended to serve as a guide for parents navigating the special education system, in order to know what to expect.  However, it is not the same as specific legal advice, and may not cover every individual situation. For information about your particular circumstances, you should consult a specialist in your area.




Special Education Eligibility:Goals 2017

  • Ages 3-5
  • Ages 5-18
  • Ages 19-21


Proposed Assessment Plan:

  • District must provide to parents within 15 school days of referral.
  • Parent has 15 calendar days of receipt of the proposed assessment plan to return signed Assessment Plan.


Parent notification of IEP Meeting

  • At least 10 calendar days prior to scheduled IEP meeting (early enough to ensure an opportunity to attend).
  • All IEP team members should also receive notice of IEP meeting at least 10 calendar days prior to scheduled IEP meeting.


Initial IEP meeting (required as a result of an assessment, and after parent consent):

  • Within 60 calendar days from date that the signed Assessment Plan is received by school, all assessments and reports must be completed and the IEP meeting held.
  • Timelines stop and re-start again when off-track time and school vacation exceed 5 school days.


Independent Educational Evaluation:

  • School to provide written response to parent within 30 calendar days of receipt of request either by:
    • Approving the parent’s request, or:
    • Filing for due process hearing to show that IEE is not needed.


Assessment Reports:

  • If requested by the parent, the school provides assessment reports to the parent within 4 working days before the date of the IEP meeting.


Eligibility Determination:

  • School has 45 school days after receipt of informed consent from parent(s) for initial eligibility determination.


Meeting to develop IEP:

  • IEP conducted within 30 calendar days of determination that student needs services.
  • School must provide parent with copy of IEP within 21 school days of IEP meeting.
  • IEP must be current at start of each school year.
  • Must be reviewed at least annually (Annual IEP).


Statement of transition services:

  • ITP usually starts at 14 years of age.
  • IEP must include ITP for students age 14 years and older.
  • Updated annually.


Implementation of post-secondary goals and transition:

  • No later than the student reaches the age of 16.


Notification of student’s acquisition of education rights (Age of Majority Transition):

  • School must notify student at least 1 year before child’s 18th birthday that the rights under IDEA transfer to the student from the parent/legal guardian upon 18th birthday.


Implementation of IEP:

  • IEP to be implemented as soon as possible.



  • IEP is conducted at least once per year and at least once every 3 years (Triennial IEP), unless parent and school agree reevaluation is unnecessary.


When parent requests an IEP meeting:

  • IEP will be held within 30 days from the date of the receipt of written request.


Abbreviated School Day (may include tutoring):

An abbreviated school day is when your child does not go to school for the same amount of time as students without disabilities.  It is not based on “instructional time.” It is based on the total number of minutes in a school day at your school district.

  • Only the IEP Team can decide to put your child on an abbreviated school day for more than 10 school days, and it would be a change of placement.
  • IEP must have a re-entry plan for child to return to full-time school day within a reasonable period of time, which cannot be longer than 45 calendar days.
  • If child is unable to return to school full-time within 45 calendar days, IEP team must meet every 20 school days to review progress toward returning to school full-time. If child not progressing, IEP team must determine what setting will allow the student to progress to full-time school day.
  • If the IEP team decides that abbreviated school day is appropriate, and necessary, based on the child’s medical needs, IEP Team must meet at least every 90 calendar days (it can be longer if your child’s medical providers recommend a longer time) until child is medically able to return to school full-time.


Discipline (Suspension)/Change of Placement:

  • If discipline is for more than 10 consecutive school days, the IEP Team must hold “Manifestation Determination.”
  • Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES) for up to 45 school days if drugs or weapons are involved, or if student caused “serious bodily injury” to another person.
  • IAES is ordered by a hearing officer, via an expedited hearing, for no more than 45 school days if student is dangerous.
  • If student is removed for more than 10 cumulative school days in a school year, child must still receive educational services to advance in general curriculum, and to meet his/her IEP goals. 


Access to Records:

  • Parent may inspect and review any educational records of their child and school must comply with parent request without unnecessary delay, before any meeting regarding an IEP or hearing, and in no case more than 45 days after request is made.


Unilateral Private Placement by Parent:

  • If parent intends to seek tuition reimbursement from the school:
    • Parent must provide written notice to school at least 10 business days prior to removing child from public school, or
    • Parent must notify the IEP Team at the IEP Team Meeting, before removing child from school, that he/she is rejecting the proposed placement, and state concerns as to why they are rejecting the placement and the intent to enroll child in a private school at public expense.


Implementation of IEP after transfer within the state to a new district and new SELPA:

  • Without delay.


Records request by parent – oral or written, and before any meeting regarding IEP or any hearing or resolution session:

  • Within 5 working days.


Records request from district/LEA where student has enrolled:

  • Within 5 working days after receipt of request.


Review of IEP when there is a residential placement:

  • Every 6 months.