Overview of Special Education
The purpose of the IDEA, as stated by Congress, is:
"To ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living."
Children between the ages of 3 and 21 with special needs that negatively affect learning – such as dyslexia, autism, and Tourette's – are entitled to special education services at no cost to families. These services are federally mandated in all states.
Evaluations for Special Ed Students
When a student is suspected of having a disability that adversely impacts his or her ability to learn, that student shall be referred to the Child Study Team by either the parents or district personnel to be evaluated for special education and related services. An evaluation planning meeting shall then be convened with the parents to determine what evaluations are necessary to assess whether a student will be eligible for an Individualized Education Plan ("IEP").
- Such evaluations may include but not be limited to the following:
- Educational/Learning Evaluation
- Psychological Evaluation
- Social History
- Neurological Evaluation
- Speech & Language Evaluation
- Occupational Therapy Evaluation
- Physical Therapy Evaluation
- Psychiatric Evaluation
- Evaluation for an Augmentative Communication Device
The Child Study Team must complete all evaluations, hold an eligibility meeting and develop an IEP (if eligible) within 90 days of obtaining parental consent. If the parents disagree with any of the results of the evaluations, they are entitled to an independent evaluation at the district's expense.
Individualized Education Plan ("IEP")
Once a student has been deemed eligible (i.e. classified), federal law requires that each child must then receive an IEP designed to meet his or her unique needs.
- Services your child may be entitled to include but are not limited to the following:
- Speech & Language Therapy
- Social Skills Instruction
- Occupational or Physical Therapy
- Personal aide
- Placement in a specialized class or private school (day/residential)
- Extended school day/extended school year program
- Behavioral Support
- Transition program
Section 504 Plan
For those students who may not be eligible for an IEP, they may still require accommodations if they have a disability that substantially impacts a major life activity – such as learning or concentrating. In those circumstances, he or she may be eligible for reasonable accommodations through a Section 504 plan.
- Some examples of accommodations include but are not limited to:
- Extended time
- Preferential seating
- Alternative tests
Section 504 laws are intended to protect persons with special needs against discrimination on the basis of their disabilities. When there is a dispute regarding whether the evaluations, educational programs, and accommodation plans are appropriate, the laws provide parents with due process procedures to challenge such determinations. If parents are successful, they may be entitled to reimbursement of legal fees.
Contact Freeman Law Offices, LLC today to learn ways you can help your child make progress in his or her educational program.