Basics of Special Education Law

When a child is having difficulties learning in school, a parent needs to fully understand the special education process and know at least the basics of special education law. There are two main laws to protect children with disabilities in the public schools; IDEIA and Section 504.

IDEIA– If your child qualifies for special education under IDEIA, your child will receive an Individualized Education Plan. Parents must understand that there is a process that a school system must go through before declaring that a student is eligible for special education services. There should be initial interventions attempted before a student is ever referred for a special education assessment. The interventions should be decided upon by a committee (with parents included). If interventions are not successful, a full evaluation may be recommended. Testing will be conducted during this time. After testing is complete, an eligibility committee will gather to go over the testing and to determine if the student meets federal guidelines for special education. There are 13 disability categories in which a student may be eligible for special education services. If a student is found eligible for special education services, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be created within 30 days. The IEP will be a written document that describes the services to be received, accommodations, and goals for the student.

504– Section 504 is less restrictive than IDEIA, and is a plan used for a student who has a disability that is impacting a major life function. It is used when a student does not require special educational services, but could still benefit from certain classroom modifications within regular education due to the disability.

Key things to consider:

*Parents can request testing, even if the committee does not recommend testing.

*Testing can not be completed without parental consent.

*Parents should be a valuable and contributing member at any meeting.

*Parents should receive a copy of their rights from the school.

*If you have concerns with the process, get an advocate and seek advice.

*If parents disagree with the testing, they can request an Individualized Education Evaluation (IEE) at the expense of the school system. This is testing completed by a professional not affiliated with the school.

Parental rights are often discussed by parents familiar with the special education process at LD Help Online.

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