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Expert Q&A

Does the school have to make accommodations in advanced classes as well as regular classes?

My daughter is in tenth grade. She is dyslexic and learning disabled in mathematics. She is on an IEP and has received “class within a class” services for most of her core (non-elective) classes. She is planning to go to college and study nursing. She needs to take higher level mathematics (Algebra I and above) but the school will not provide “class within a class” services in “college track” courses. She made it through Algebra I with difficulty, but passed. We requested services for Geometry and the school refused.

I feel that by only offering support services in low level courses, the school discriminates against disabled students by depriving them of the assistance they need to complete college entrance requirements. If there any leverage we can apply to get services in the college track courses?


Dear Diane,

Your question addresses whether you have a right to require schools to provide accommodations and support services with respect to higher level classes, as well as lower level classes. This is a somewhat complicated situation. However, the key point is that every child has a right to individualized education based on their unique needs.

Any system that provides for categorical services based exclusively on level of functioning is suspect – schools that provide remediation only to a certain course level, but refuse to provide remediation when a child reaches the higher level courses would be potentially guilty of categorical discrimination based on disability status. IDEA requires an individualized education program without limitation on the child’s grade level or the course content. Similarly, Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability category or on the nature and extent of the child’s disability.

On the other hand, you should be aware that entitlement to services does not necessarily provide entitlement to the specific model or type of service that you were describing. For example, the school has apparently opted to provide services through a “course within a course” model. There is nothing legally to require the school to provide that form of service, as long as they address the individual needs of the particular student.

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