No. Special education students do not have to meet the eligibility criteria for Speech and Language Impairment (SLI) in order to receive speech or language service from the school district. The school district must use the eligibility requirements for related services that are included in both federal and state law and regulations to determine whether a student needs speech and language services and supports. Related services such as speech and language services are any services that are necessary to help a student benefit from her special education program. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.34(a); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56363.]
In order to qualify for any special education services, a student must have a disability that meets the eligibility criteria of at least one disability category. SLI is one of those categories. The criteria for SLI requires that a student meet very specific functional speech or language benchmarks including low scores on standardized tests. Once a student meets the threshold for special education eligibility regardless of disability category, the district must use the eligibility criteria for related services to determine the need for speech and language services.