Q: My evaluation deadline is Jan. 4, but the school district says I have until Jan. 31. When is the evaluation really due?
A: The Florida Dept. of Education's Office of Choice (the FL government office that oversees education outside of standard public schools) states that the evaluation is due each year on the anniversary of the letter of intent.
If the school district received your letter of intent on Jan. 4th, then the evaluation deadline is Jan. 4th each year. Even if you don't send your evaluation paperwork right on the deadline, even if you send it in months earlier, that evaluation deadline won't change. So your child's evaluation deadline should be Jan. 4th each year.
One possibility for the different date is that the school district may not have logged the letter of intent into their records in a timely fashion. They may have let it sit somewhere until the end of the month, a few weeks after it was sent in, before logging it in. Thus, their system may have a later deadline listed for your child than you do.
Another possibility is that the district may given you an extension until the end of the month. Some districts only send out reminders about evaluations if the deadline is getting too close for their comfort; the district may have given you notice that they'll accept the evaluation paperwork a bit late without giving you any grief. But the intent is to warn you that your child's evaluation paperwork needs to be turned in soon.
Some districts give every family a bit of an extension because they want to streamline the process of checking up on missed deadlines; essentially, they want school district personnel to check only once a month to see if anyone missed an evaluation deadline that month. They don't want their people to appear to be behind schedule--which they could if they didn't limit the number of deadlines somehow.
In the end, though, does it really matter why there's a discrepancy? I would assume the actual deadline was Jan. 4th but that the district is giving you some extra time. They've built in a small grace period and will take no action until Jan. 31st. The reason doesn't matter as much as knowing that you have only about three weeks to get in evaluation paperwork and avoid potential legal trouble.
I hope this helps,