Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides that children and their parents, when the child’s educational performance is adversely affected by particular disabilities, are afforded special education rights over and above regular education rights. School districts are legally required to identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities. Specifically, IDEA ensures a free, appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the unique needs of disabled children and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.
Disability, as defined by IDEA, includes mental retardation, hearing impairment (including deafness), speech or language impairment, visual impairment (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, specific learning disability, and other health impairments.
Children, who meet the IDEA standard of disability, will have access to an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) from the school and parents will play a key role in the planning, goals, and regular communication related to that plan.
Children who don’t qualify for services under IDEA may qualify for a 504 Section plan instead. Parents with a concern about their child’s IEP, 504 Section Plan, or qualification under IDEA should first address the concern in writing with the school principal and the child’s teacher or school intervention specialists as appropriate.
An education attorney can advise parents about the rights and responsibilities afforded by IDEA and options to consider if parental concerns are not answered.
Disciplinary disputes with schools
Disciplinary issues and disputes with schools, principals, and/or teachers about a child’s education can be very emotional. Parents and family members are encouraged to work as cooperatively as possible with schools to resolve disagreements and to understand that schools must have disciplinary policies in place for the benefit and safety of all students. Parents can positively advocate for their child with the school while still requiring calmly but firmly that the child accept responsibility for misbehavior. Public schools must follow particular procedures and levels of hearings and appeals when dealing with disciplinary issues. An education attorney can advise parents about their rights related to education, discipline, and school disputes.
Where to read more about education law:
- U.S. Department of Education, parents information
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
- American Civil Liberties Union