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Diagnoses and Decisions: Navigating Professional Roles in Special Education Eligibility Decisions

  • 20 May 2021
  • 1:00 PM - 4:15 PM
  • Virtual Event-Link Will be Emailed


  • For registrants who are not in one of the other registration types.
  • For active members of the state association for VT, ME, MA, CT, RI, or NY as part of our NE Regional collaboration.
  • For active members of NHASEA.
  • For active members of either NHASP or NHPA.
  • For students currently enrolled (minimum 6 credits/semester) in a school psychology or school counseling program.

Diagnoses and Decisions: Navigating Professional Roles in Special Education Eligibility Decisions

Presented by:

Nathaniel Jones, Ph.D. & Eric Herlan, JD

This is a virtual event. All registrants receive an invitation to the presentation on May 20, 2021.

The PDF brochure for this event is available here

Workshop Description

Determining if a student is eligible for and IEP is the foundation of special education services.  School teams must work together with each student's family to make legally and ethically sound eligibility decisions that support the unique learning needs of the student. Numerous barriers can exist that can disrupt the team from designing and completing high quality evaluations and using those evaluations to make appropriate decisions. Barriers can include identifying appropriate diagnoses and conditions, effectively using health evaluations, and understanding the many complex concepts included in the process. 

This virtual workshop will examine the roles of school psychologists, special education case managers and administrators, school nurses, and others in determining student eligibility for special education. Dr. Jones will begin this workshop with considerations around school psychologists making diagnoses in psychoeducational evaluations outlined in the recent NHASP and NHASEA position statement on this topic. Implications for educational teams in using diagnoses provided by school psychologists will be described. This will include practical advice for incorporating these diagnoses into decision paperwork and the continued need for a health evaluation for many eligibility areas. 

Attorney Herlan will then highlight critical legal concepts in eligibility decisions, including defining adverse impact, determining the impact of a disability on educational performance, and defining the need for specially designed instruction. Specific consideration will be given to determination of common eligibility areas such as Specific Learning Disability, Emotional Disturbance, and Other Health Impairment. 

Both presenters will focus on providing practical and actionable recommendations to participants on the legal, ethical, and professional implications of these topics.  This will include implications for individual practitioners and educational teams. 

Target Audience

School Psychologists, Psychologists, Special Education Case Managers, Special Education Administrators, other educators involved in special education eligibility decisions. 

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to

  1. Identify at least 3 best practice strategies for appropriately designing and completing psychoeducational evaluations that can ethically support the determination of a diagnosis. 
  2. Describe how to use a diagnosis given by a school psychologist as part of the process of determining if a student is eligible for special education services. 
  3. Discuss at least 3 critical legal concepts that are part of determining eligibility for special education.
  4. Recognize strengths and weaknesses in the process and paperwork used in their school district for determining eligibility for special education. 

About the Presenters

Dr. Nate Jones is a NH certified School Psychologist, NH Licensed Psychologist, and a BCBA. He received a B.A. in Psychology from Harvard and a M.A. in Education and a Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Connecticut.  Nate is the Chief Psychologist and Director of the Center for Innovation at SERESC in Bedford, NH. At SERESC, he coordinates a large consulting team of school psychologists, psychologists, and BCBAs. He also serves on the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Ethics and Professional Practice Committee (EPPC) as the Western Regional Representative. He is a past-president of the NH Association of School Psychologists and past NH Delegate to NASP. Dr. Jones was awarded the NH Psychological Association (NHPA) Margaret M. Riggs Distinguished Contribution award in 2013. He was the 2017-2018 NH State School Psychologist of the year and the 2018 NASP National School Psychologist of the Year.

Through SERESC, Nate provides consultation and evaluation of students with complex learning, mental health, developmental, and medical disabilities.  He is the coordinator of the Medical Educational Therapeutic Evaluation team at SERESC that provides interdisciplinary evaluations and consultations for student with complex medical disabilities.  Nate has provided multiple trainings at state, regional, and national conferences for professionals, family members, and students. Advocating for the needs of students and the field of school psychology is a passion for Nate. He has been part of multiple local and state legislative, policy, and other advocacy efforts in NH throughout his professional career.

Eric R. Herlan, an attorney at Drummond Woodsum, has been representing school clients for over 30 years, with a focus on student rights, special education and disability law. In addition to counseling schools on management of difficult student situations, he has litigated special education disputes at all phases of the legal system.

Eric is a frequent presenter on state and national levels and is the author of Maine Special Education Law (Second Edition, 2020), a contributor to New Hampshire Special Education Law (First Edition),  Maine School Law (Sixth Edition, 2018), and the School Law Advisory.  Eric regularly represents school districts in New Hampshire and Maine.

Continuing Education Credits

3.0 CE ethics and professional practice credits are available for this event! NHASP is a NASP-approved provider of CPD hours and Certificates of Attendance will be accepted toward NCSP.

For NH Licensed Psychologists, NASP-approved CPD hours are considered Category A credits for license renewal in NH.

Registration Information 

Registration is open to any practitioner who would like to participate, not just NHASP members. Registrations must be received by May 15th, 2021 at noon EST so register now! Cancellations received by May 15th, 2021 at noon will be paid in full, minus a 5% processing fee. 

Online payments will be accepted for this event. Please note that NHASP is now using payment processing from Wild Apricot to simplify your checkout process. You will no longer be re-directed to PayPal for payment. If you prefer to pay by check, please use this form

Purchase orders will be accepted for this event. Registrants are responsible for ensuring PO information has been received by NHASP in a timely fashion. Please submit all required information as soon as possible to avoid registration delays. 

*Students currently enrolled in a school psychology or school counseling program receive a reduced registration fee. 

Once you have registered and close to the event day, you will receive an email from NHASP providing you with a link to the live virtual event. 

For questions, please contact NHASP President Travis Bickford. 

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