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Special Education Law

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004


Is My Child a Special Needs Child?

  • A child may be a special needs child if he or she is between the ages of three and twenty-one, has not graduated High School, and is:
    • Hearing Impaired,
    • Visually Handicapped,
    • Mentally Retarded,
    • Orthopedically Impaired,
    • Multi-Handicapped,
    • Autistic,
    • Speech/Language Impaired,
    • Learning Disabled,
    • Emotionally Disturbed, and/or
    • Behavior Disordered.
  • How Can We Determine Whether My Child Has Special Needs?
    • Your child’s school is required to identify and evaluate all children with special needs.
    • It is also required to tell you that free special education programs are available.
  • When Should I Request An Evaluation of My Child?
    • If the school has failed to contact you, you have the right to ask the school to evaluate your child.
    • The school must complete the case evaluation within 60 calendar days from the date after it receives your signed Permission to Evaluate authorization (excluding the summer break).
  • What Happens During A Case Study Evaluation?
    • The school must have a meeting to discuss the evaluation results presented to you as an Evaluation Report (ER) or Re-evaluation Report RR).
    • You may request that an outside Independent Educational Evlaution (IEE) be done at the District’s expense if you disagree with the evaluation.  Upon your request, the District either must agree to pay for it or file their own request for Due Process to defend the appropriateness of their evaluation.
    • As part of the evaluation, you may be asked how your child learns, behaves at home, and how he/she gets along with  friends and family.

The IEP Meeting:

  • What are My Rights Prior to the Team Meeting?
    • The school must invite you to this meeting, and, if you request a copy of the evaluation, the school must provide it at least 5 days prior to the meeting.
    • You have the right to bring anyone and/or your attorney, but you must give prior notice to the school if you wish for your attorney to be present so the school may have their attorney present.
  • What is the Purpose of the Team Meeting?
    • To allow an opportunity to examine the results of the available evaluations, and
    • To develop a written Individual Education Program (IEP).
  • What is in an IEP?
    • The IEP is the written agreement of your child’s individualized education program.
  • What If I Do Not Agree With The IEP Plan?
    • You may appeal the decision before the State Department of Education by filing for a Due Process hearing.
    • While your Hearing decision is pending, the school can’t change your child’s present placement unless you  agree.
    • You will need help to file for and litigate a Due Process hearing.

IDEA Plans Vs. 504 Plans:

    • To qualify, a student must need specially designed instruction and related services.
    • A student who only needs related services is not eligible under IDEA.
    • Any school that receives federal money must not discriminate between “handicapped persons” and non-handicapped persons.
    • A student may still qualify under 504 if he only needs related services and not specially designed instruction.
  • Which to choose?
    • 504 Plans do not have as good procedural safeguards as IDEA Plans.
  • If your child would qualify under both statutes, then it is better for him to choose an IDEA Plan.
    • A 504 Plan is better than nothing, but don’t undersell your child.

Do You Need an Attorney?

We may be able to help if:

  • Your child has a learning or developmental disability, impairment or handicap, or a mental illness, and is not functioning well in school and/or home;
  • Your child is failing in school and you suspect that he or she may have a disability;
  • Your child has significant problems at home and at school, has never had any testing, and has never received an Individualized Education Program;
  • Your child has been identified as a special education student, but you are dissatisfied with the results of the special education program provided;
  • Your child is in a special education program, your privately obtained testing disagrees with the public school testing, and you want to obtain the private professionals’ recommendation;
  • Your child has been suspended several times from school and is in danger of being expelled; or
  • You wish to plan your child’s future financial needs through special needs trusts or life or long term care insurance products.

Free Initial Consultation.

Fees and costs are paid by the School District in a successful law suit.

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