Child Find is a legal requirement that schools find all children who have disabilities and who may be entitled to special education services. Child Find covers every child from birth through age 21. The school must evaluate (in all related areas) any keiki that it knows or suspects may have a disability.

This booklet explains all of your rights regarding your keiki's right to a specialized education, including assessment information, and your due process rights. This is the form for Hawaii, if you need to file a complaint.

Assessments and Observations

When assessments are offered or requested, be sure to ask what assessments are available. Share your areas of concern: behavior (FBA), social-emotional (EBA, Social skills assessment), academic/curricular (VB-MAPP, PEAK, AFLS, EFL, etc.). It is important to know what to expect from each assessment. Ask the team to explain anything you are unclear about. Consider speaking to your medical providers and asking if there are assessments they recommend. Do your own research (relying on reputable resources). For information related to Speech, consider contacting HSHA; for information related to ABA, consider contacting (us and) HABA; for information related to psychology, consider contacting HPA

If your keiki has access to private services or medical services, their provider (and you as the parent/caregiver) may wish to observe in the school setting. This is absolutely permitted and is your legal right -so long as it is at a mutablly agreeable time and is for a reasonable length of time (e.g., 1 hour). Here is the form required for observations in Hawaii DOE schools.

If your keiki has access to medical services, in most cases, we advise sharing medical reports with the IEP team -particularly if the evaluation speaks to critical areas and factors that should be considered when developing the educational program for your keiki.

The purposes of this chapter are

- To ensure that all students with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living;
- To ensure that the rights of students with disabilities and their parents are protected;
- To assist public schools in the provision of the education of all students with disabilities;
- To assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate students with disabilities;
- To strengthen the role of parents;
- To encourage whole-school approaches and prereferral intervention to reduce the need to label students as disabled in order to address their learning needs;
- To encourage high expectations for students with a disability and to improve and increase educational achievement; and
- To encourage all students with a disability to develop skills needed to lead a self- determined life.

After assessments are conducted, the team will review criteria from relevant eligibility criteria. It is difficult to know what the team is talking about and we feel it is easier when parents (and other team members) can follow along. 

PLEP Worksheet - Present Levels of Educational Performance

The Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance are the foundation of your child's IEP. Parents and teachers need to learn to develop and use accurate, up-to-date Present Levels in IEPs.

IEP’s are needs driven! Parent concerns may be discussed at meetings, but they will often be forgotten if they are not addressed in written form. Begin with your hopes and dreams for your keiki. We recommend you include these ideas before your fears, as this format encourages a more collaborative meeting vibe and keeps the focus on the purpose of your keiki’s IEP, which as per IDEA is for further education (whatever this will look for your keiki), employment (whatever this will look like for your keiki), and independent living -all of which will be based on their individualized needs.

Each Individualized Education Program includes


  • - a statement of the child's present levels of educational performance;
  • - a statement of annual goals, including short-term instructional objectives;
  • - a statement of the specific special education and related services to be provided;
  • - the extent that the child will be able to participate in regular educational programs;
  • - the projected dates for initiation of services and the anticipated duration of the services; and
  • - appropriate objective criteria and evaluation procedures and schedules for determining, on at least an annual basis, whether the objectives are being achieved.


The IEP for each student, beginning no later than age 16, must include a statement of needed transition services.

The IEP is required to address only those areas concerned with the provision of special education and related services and the extent that the child can participate in regular education programs.

Under 34 CFR §300.503(a), the school district must give you a written notice (information received in writing), whenever the school district: (1) Proposes to begin or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your keiki or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your keiki; or (2) Refuses to begin or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child or the provision of FAPE to your child. The school district must provide the notice in understandable language (34 CFR §300.503(c)).

This model form provides a format that States and/or school districts may choose to adopt to construct the form that they will use to provide that notice. The school district will need to insert the required keiki- and situation-specific information, and must inform parents, as part of the notice, that they have protection under the procedural safeguards of Part B of the IDEA.

PWN = Prior to implementation, after team discussion has occurred.

It is your right to record your IEP Meeting. We encourage being transparent and informing the team that you will be recording. Often times, they will also wish to record the meeting. For in-person meetings, using the "voice memos" app on your phone will work well. We recommend placing your phone on airplane mode or bringing a second device (iPad), so that the recording is not disrupted. For virtual meetings, you can often record in the software (e.g., WebEx, ZOOM, etc.). You may also use apps on your phone, if you place the phone close to the speaker of your computer.

Some tips for recordings...ask that only one person speak at a time. Be mindful of background noise. You may ask them to turn off the air conditioning or to refrain from photo-copying during the meeting. If you cannot hear somone or understand them, or worry their voice will not be detected on the recording, you can ask them to speak more loudly or you can move the recording device closer to them when they are speaking. If people sound similar or are unfamiliar to you, be sure to introduce them or ask them to state their name each time they make a comment at the meeting.

For transcribing your meeting recording (who wants to listen to hours of discussion), we recommend the free site: Otter.ai, which can be accessed on your computer or mobile device. 

A parent/legal guardian or the Department may file a due process complaint on any matter relating to a proposal or a refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or educational placement of your child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for a student who receives special education and related services. To view Hawaii's IDEA Part B Reports, click here.