Welcome to dese.mo.gov. We hope you enjoy the site, and we welcome your feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions: Eligibility

What documentation does the local school district need to send to MSSD for an eligibility determination?

The documentation required is explained in detail in the Eligibility Determination Resource Guide on this website. If all documentation required is not submitted, a letter will be sent to the district requesting the information.An eligibility determination can not be made without all required components.

What is the process/timeline for an eligibility determination?

When MSSD receives an eligibility determination packet from a district, a letter is sent to the student’s parents notifying them of the submission and providing them seven (7) days to contact MSSD with any information they may wish to provide. At the end of this time, the eligibility team reviews the information and determines:

  1. more information is needed; or
  2. the student is eligible; or
  3. the student is ineligible.

A letter is sent to the district setting forth of the decision or requesting further information. If the student is eligible, the notice shall specify the school site assignment should the student be referred.


While MSSD processes submitted eligibility packets as soon as possible, the entire process does take time since there is usually more than one step. In fact, in approximately 90% of the submissions the district is asked to provide other information or clarify statements made in the JOP. Because there is often a need for further information, it is advisable for districts to submit eligibility packets a few weeks before the end of the school year so that personnel will be available to provide the additional information and a decision on the student’s eligibility can be made prior to the start of the next school year.

A student currently attending MSSD moves into our district, how should we proceed in order to continue placement in MSSD?

A student who is enrolled in a school that is part of the MSSD district and moves from one home school district to another may transfer enrollment immediately on the basis of the justification for separate school placement, current IEP and evaluation report. Such a move is considered an interim placement, not to exceed thirty (30) days, during which the new local district follows the transfer procedures outlined in Regulation III of the State Plan, Procedures for Evaluation and Determination of Eligibility, to confirm placement in the MSSD as the least restrictive educational environment for the student. The district then compiles and submits to the MSSD the Agreement for Continued Placement under the existing IEP.

A student from another district who was in a separate day school facility (not part of MSSD) has recently moved into our district, what must we do in order to have MSSD consider eligibility or enrollment?

A sixty day interim placement in the MSSD may be available for students with severe disabilities who are changing school districts due to a change in residence. These students must have been receiving services in their local district; through cooperative arrangement by their home district with another school district; in a special school district; or, in an out-of-state program for students with severe disabilities. To qualify for this interim placement, the criteria stated in Regulation XVI of the State Plan must be met:

  • The current IEP and evaluation report are adopted by the new school district pursuant to transfer procedures provided within Regulation IV, Least Restrictive Environment of the State Plan.
  • The new district submits a copy of the student’s current IEP and evaluation report to the MSSD with a letter acknowledging adoption of the documents. In the same letter, the new district will verify the previous placement provided educational services in a self-contained classroom with students with severe disabilities in a separate school
    building. In addition, the district requests that the student be served in a sixty day interim placement to confirm concurrence with placement in the MSSD as the least restrictive educational environment for the student.
  • The MSSD will issue a letter of interim placement assignment if the information submitted is viewed as substantiating the request.
  • Enrollment paperwork must be completed at the onset of the sixty day interim placement period. MSSD will notify the LEA of the date of the student’s enrollment.
  • During the sixty day interim placement, the local district shall follow the referral procedures to seek eligibility determination in accordance with established MSSD referral procedures. Upon receipt of the referral, MSSD will issue a notice of action to the district and parents confirming continued placement in MSSD. If, during the sixty day interim period, the local school district fails to submit the Justification of Separate School Placement (JOP), the student shall be served by the LEA.

If MSSD is not confirmed as the student's least restrictive educational environment, the local district is notified of this decision and becomes responsible for providing the required special education and related services in accordance with Missouri State Plan Regulation V, Procedural Safeguards, and Regulation IV, Individualized Education Programs of the State Plan.

What are the evaluation criteria to be considered for Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled?

Essentially, the student must be functioning overall in the severe range of ability (including adaptive behavior) of below four standard deviations below the mean and MSSD must be the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for the student. Both criteria must be met. Decisions on eligibility are made by a team of MSSD personnel and the decision on such eligibility is not appealable. The home district may resubmit new information for consideration, but all information previously submitted will also be included in the decision-making process. It is incumbent on MSSD to ensure that a student is appropriate for placement in our District.

The answers in the Justification for Separate School Placement (JOP) are used when determining whether or not MSSD would be the LRE for the student. 

What is the next step once the local school district has been notified that a student has been found eligible for MSSD?

The IEP team must determine if a referral to MSSD is the most appropriate placement for the student to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The IEP team should also consider the range of placement options available for the student. Once considered, the district may refer the student to the MSSD program by submitting the referral form (sent to local district with eligible for MSSD letter), a copy of the amended IEP (the amend IEP reflects 1800 minutes of service per week) and a copy of the Notice of Action.

The district shall submit the referral only after the parents have been offered all rights available to them in relation to the Procedural Safeguards.

Upon receipt of the referral information, enrollment papers will be mailed to the parent by MSSD.

Within thirty (30) days following initial enrollment of the student in the MSSD, an IEP/placement review conference shall be held. The purpose of this review is to confirm the appropriateness of continued placement in the MSSD as the LRE to provide a free appropriate public education for the student.