Legislation & Policy
1) My daughter has LD but doesn't qualify for special education services. Although she has earned all passing grades, the school wants her to repeat her current grade because she failed the state's standardized tests. Isn't that discriminatory?
You should also consider requesting that your daughter receive another educational evaluation if her last evaluation was conducted more than one year ago. As students get older, the gap between their ability and achievement can widen, allowing them to qualify for special education services when they may not have before.
2) I don't feel like my child has received the kind of help that she needs in the public school, so I've put her in private school. How can I get the public school to pay for it?
Public schools will only pay for private placement if they feel they cannot meet a child's educational needs in the public system. At this point, it would be beneficial for you to arrange to meet with one of the heads of the special education department in your school district to discuss your concerns.
One aspect of the laws governing special education is that all children are entitled to a free, appropriate public education (also known as FAPE). The key is for you and the school district to come to an understanding about what FAPE means for your child. What can sometimes be frustrating for parents is that a free, appropriate public education must also be balanced with the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means that there needs to be the right balance between providing your daughter with the educational services, supports, and accommodations she requires to reach her academic potential and giving her access to the general education setting as much as possible.
Intuitively, it would seem that it would benefit almost all children to be in a self-contained, center-based, or other, more restrictive environment, particularly because of the low teacher to student ratio. But there are many factors to consider when determining appropriate placement. The questions of FAPE and LRE as they relate specifically to your child should be addressed.
You may wish to request that the head of the special education department also arranges to meet with you and the other members of the IEP team in order to create a new IEP that will address your child's needs in a way that is satisfactory to both you and the school. As the parent, you have the final say in all aspects of your child's education. The school cannot implement any IEP that you do not agree to and sign.
3) I need information on setting up a mediation hearing at my school.
A school or parent may request mediation at any time. Start by contacting your schools administrator (usually the principal). Also, the school may request mediation if it is having difficulty resolving differences with parents, or the school may suggest mediation if a parent requests a due process hearing. However, mediation never precludes a parent's right to a hearing.
You are your child's best advocate. Be polite but assertive to get the help you need.
4) Where can I find a special education attorney?
For legal information on special education issues, check out Wrightslaw, a website maintained by special education lawyer Peter Wright and psychotherapist Pam Wright.
5) My son's school would like to place him in a self-contained classroom. I don't agree. What can I do to make sure my child has the best possible learning environment?
School districts are required to educate students with disabilities in regular classrooms with their non-disabled peers in the school they would attend if not disabled, to the maximum extent appropriate. This is commonly referred to as the least restrictive environment (LRE).
6) I tried to read about NCLB and its impact on my LD child, but I am confused. Is there any information about this law that is easier to read?
Like many complex federal laws, The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) can be confusing. Fortunately, a Parent's Guide to NCLB was published by the U.S. Department of Education. It includes an overview of the law, explanations of key terms and provisions, ways the law can help your child and an NCLB checklist for parents.
Another website, Wrightslaw, provides excellent information on legal issues in special education for parents. It is hosted by Peter Wright, a lawyer with expertise in special education law. Here, you can read and get information on the federal laws that govern special education as well as interpretations, commentaries and cases involving those laws.
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