Understand the Rights of a Special Needs Child
Is your child frustrated because he doesn’t understand what’s being taught in school or can’t complete homework assignments? Are the teachers telling you that your child needs to spend more time studying because they’re not performing in class? Maybe your student is suffering with unidentified special needs that inhibit the ability to learn. Schools are mandated by Congress to identify, assess, provide services and a placement to enable special needs children to learn.
Special education was designed by Congress and each state to:
- Identify students who need help to learn.
- Assess students to determine why she or he has learning challenges.
- Provide services to educate special needs students.
- Offer placement where the student can learn if the school cannot educate him or her.
Special Needs Children are Protected by Law
Congress enacted The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) to ensure that schools educate students with disabilities. Under IDEA, students and parents may be offered an individualized education program (IEP), which provides a comprehensive plan to enable the students to learn.
A number of disabilities qualify a student for an IEP including:
- Visual impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Emotional disturbance
- Intellectual disability
- Speech or language impairment
- Health impairments such as attention deficit disorder (ADD)
Every Situation is Unique
No two people are alike, and no two disabilities pose the same challenges. A diagnosis does not automatically ensure special education services and placement.
If a school fails to educate a special needs student, or if a school district refuses to provide services or placement to enable that student to learn, the child’s parents often need help navigating the layers of procedural issues required to correct the situation.
Schools often have a designated representative who assists parents with the process of obtaining an IEP. However, a privately hired parent advocate — an education lawyer — can help guide parents through the procedural challenge of obtaining the services and placement their child needs.
The lawyer may file a due process complaint against the school to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) who is knowledgeable in special education law. The lawyer may agree to mediate the case with an ALJ to attempt to settle claims.