My child is being restrained at school. First, investigate whether your state has a restraint and seclusion law. What next?
Julie Swanson, a Special Education Advocate, and Jennifer Laviano, a Special Education Attorney, discuss Your Special Education Rights according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
IDEA was first passed in 1975. (At that time, it was called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act.) The primary purposes of IDEA are:
To provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. IDEA requires schools to find and evaluate students suspected of having disabilities, at no cost to families. This is called Child Find. Once kids are found to have a qualifying disability, schools must provide them with special education and related services (like speech therapy and counseling) to meet their unique needs. The goal is to help students make progress in school. Read more about what is and isn’t covered under FAPE.
To give parents or legal guardians a voice in their child’s education. Under IDEA, you have a say in the decisions the school makes about your child. At every point in the process, the law gives you specific rights and protections. These are called procedural safeguards. For example, one safeguard is that the school must get your consent before providing services to your child.
IDEA covers kids from birth through high school graduation or age 21 (whichever comes first). It provides early intervention services up to age 3, and special education for older kids in public school, which includes charter schools. (Find out how IDEA affects students in private school.)
Services Under IDEA: Who’s Eligible
Not every child is eligible for special education under IDEA, and having a diagnosis doesn’t guarantee eligibility. To qualify, your child must have a disability that falls under one of the 13 categories IDEA covers. They are:
-Other health impairment (includes ADHD)
-Specific learning disability (includes dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and other learning differences)
-Speech or language impairment
-Traumatic brain injury
-Visual impairment, including blindness
However, having one of these disabilities doesn’t automatically qualify a child under IDEA. To be eligible, a student must:
1. Have a disability and, as a result of that disability…
2. Need special education to make progress in school
If, for instance, a student has ADHD and is doing well in school, the student might not be covered by IDEA. Sometimes schools and parents disagree over whether a child is covered. When that happens, IDEA provides options for resolving the dispute.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Special Education Rights