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Are you feeling frustrated with the lack of educational services your special needs child is receiving? Do you think your child’s school is neglecting their duty, but you aren’t sure about special education law? Is your child experiencing behavior problems at school? 

You are not alone! According to the Disability Statistics Center, six million children in the United States are disabled. The Washington Post reported that every 1 in 12 children in the U.S. has a mental or physical disability.

In the State of California, 12.2% of all students receive special education. Autism alone affected only 1 out of every 600 students in 1997-1998. That number has increased significantly and in 2017-2018, every 1 out of 50 students was diagnosed with autism.

The increased number of children requiring additional services has led schools to downplay special educational needs. This saves them money because special education services are expensive.

The law is on your side. Here is a quick review of laws that protect your special needs child and guarantee their right to receive special education services. 

Federal and State Special Education Law

Federal law establishes the rights of every student who needs special education services. The law requires them to be taught in the least restrictive environment. All students are to be mainstreamed as much as possible.

Each special education student is entitled to an in-classroom aide. Your child must also be provided pull-out sessions in special education classrooms if needed.

There are many laws that establish the educational rights of a child with special needs. Knowing the law and your child’s rights are imperative to being your child’s best advocate. There are special education attorneys who know the law and can assist you in navigating the legal process.  

Federal Law Requirements

Federal law requires that school districts identify children with disabilities. This is done after a parent, teacher, or other professional requests an evaluation. Your child will be evaluated by a specialist.

The specialist will determine whether or not your child has a disability. They must also evaluate whether the disability interferes with your child’s ability to learn.

To qualify for special education, the assessment must show a disability. It must also show your child is not able to learn in a standard classroom.  Even though the law is on your side, the school district may resist.

Special education services are costly. The school will resist the extra expenditure. They will not always do what is best for your child.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was became law in 1975. This act was originally titled the Education for All Handicapped Children Act.

This federal law established a 3-step process for authorizing special education funding to the states. All 50 states meet the federal requirements and participate in IDEA. Under this law, parents and legal guardians have the right to participate in educational decisions regarding their children.

There is a wide number of disabilities that establish eligibility for IDEA. To be eligible, the child’s disability must impact their ability to learn in a standard classroom. That disability must be severe enough to require special education for them to succeed in school.

Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires all public places to be accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes your child’s school.

Accessibility includes providing language interpreters, wheelchair ramps, and accessible bathroom facilities. It also requires access to after school events that may not be specified in the student’s IEP.

Individualized Education Plan

The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) lists the educational needs of the child. The child’s parents, teachers, social workers, and other school officials meet at least once a year to create the IEP.

This meeting will include information on where the child has made progress and where they are academically at the time of the meeting. The IEP will set up new goals for the child, as well as the academic plan to help them achieve those goals. The plan should allow the child to receive their education in the least restrictive setting possible.

Section 504 of the Federal Act of 1973

Section 504 is an educational plan that may be used for children who do not meet the criteria for full special needs services. The child’s disability affects their ability to learn and is usually medical or physical. 

Disabilities that fall under this category include walking issues, vision issues, autism, and inability to concentrate. Difficulty with breathing, severe allergies, and diabetes are also frequently in this category. The 504 Plan specifies how the school will accommodate the child’s needs.

Assistive Technology Act Program

The Assistive Technology Act Program (ATAP) was created in 1998 and reauthorized in 2004. It provides students with disabilities assistive technology. This allows them to participate in their education and daily activities on a level more comparable to their peers.

Each state receives grant funding for the act. This allows them to provide services to these children throughout their life.

California Special Education Local Plan Areas

California requires its school districts to develop special education services plans. This is called the Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPA).

The average cost for providing a student with their education is $9,000, compared to $26,000 for a student with special education services.

The extra cost for special education services is covered by state funds. This includes categorical funding, federal categorical funding, and local unrestricted funding. California state government developed a set of four videos explaining state policy on state education.

The videos provide information on how schools identify special needs students. They explain what the most common disabilities are. They also explain how California administers and funds special education services.

And That’s Not All

In addition to the above, there is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws. States are required by law to provide a free and appropriate public education and equal opportunities to all students. This includes students who have special needs.

Special education is used to provide proper educational programs to children with disabilities. This includes mental, physical, and emotional impairment, as well as behavioral disabilities.

When students with disabilities have behavior problems in school, they are more likely to be suspended or expelled. They are also more likely to receive physical punishment and be referred to the police than their non-special education peers.

Protect Your Child’s Rights

Interpreting the law is difficult. When your child is not being treated appropriately or not being properly educated, it is more difficult because of emotions involved. Emotional frustration makes it difficult to successfully navigate the educational system.

That is where a special education attorney can help. Your child needs someone who knows special education law and how to advocate on their behalf to ensure they obtain a quality education.

We represent families who may not be getting the services required by law. We have the experience and know-how to get schools to meet their legal requirements. Our goal is to make sure your child receives the education they deserve.

Reach out to us for a free consultation. Our number is (213) 677-0999. Contact us now!