4 Reasons Why Inconsistent State Special Education Laws May Be Harming Your Child’s Education!

4 Reasons why inconsistent State Special Education Laws may be Harming Your Child’s Education! By JoAnn Collins Key words: Autism, PDD, Asperger’s, IDEA 2004, specific learning disability, SLD, IEE’s at public expense, FAPE
Are you the parent of a child with Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Asperger’s that is having a dispute with your school district? Are you concerned about your States special education laws, and whether they are in compliance with IDEA 2004 (federal special education law)? Many states seem to have special education laws that are inconsistent with federal special education laws. This article will discuss why these inconsistent State laws may be harming your child’s education.

1. Some school districts are using State laws to deny children eligibility for special education. For example: In Maine the State laws require that children suspected of having a specific learning disability (SLD) must score 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two or more areas of psychological processing, but cannot be more than 1.5 standard deviations below the mean (mean is average). In OSEP policy letter to Hugo OSEP states that this is inconsistent with federal special education law because it may result in children with SLD not being properly identified. A child not receiving needed special education and related services could negatively affect the child’s education and future adult life!

2. Some school districts are using State laws to deny children needed ESY services. For example: In New York their State laws say that in order for a child to be provided ESY services they must have substantial regression (with a long recoupment period). They also state that a child needs to be in self-contained placements, have severe multiple disabilities, or be in home and hospital placement. This is inconsistent with IDEA 2004 which states that ESY services must be determined on an individual basis, and given if a child needs the services so that they can receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

3. Some school districts are preventing parents from “obtaining” IEE’s at public expense by using State laws requiring “pre-notification” or “requesting” of the IEE. IDEA 2004 (federal special education law) states that parents have the right to “obtain” an IEE at public expense when they disagree with a school evaluation. Some States laws are taking out the word “obtain” and putting in the words “request” or “pre-notify.” For Example: In my State of Illinois the regulations state that parents “must request” an IEE at public expense rather than parents “have the right to obtain” the evaluation. This may prevent you from determining what your child’s disabilities are and what services your child needs for FAPE

4. Some school districts are using State laws to deny parents “meaningful participation” in all aspects of their child’s education. For example: In Maine their State law requires parents to submit written statements of concern at least three days before a scheduled IEP meeting. In OSEP policy letter to Breton OSEP states, “However, the IDEA does not permit a public agency to establish criteria for parental participation in an IEP meeting. Therefore, we maintain that it would be inconsistent with… IDEA for a local educational agency to adopt a blanket policy requiring parents to provide a written copy of their concerns to the IEP team three days before the meeting in order to have their concerns addressed in that meeting.”

Use this information in your advocacy to ensure that your school; district is in compliance not only with State law, but also with Federal law.

4 Parenting Tips to Help You Enforce Special Education Law

Do you have a child with a disability who is receiving special education services?

Are you frustrated because it is hard to get needed educational services, for your child? Would you like a few parenting tips, to help you make sure that special education personnel follow IDEA? This article will discuss 4 parenting tips, that will help you in enforcing, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

IDEA enforcement by law is to be the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which is part of the Department of Education. They are responsible in making sure that states, are in compliance with special education law. States are responsible for making sure that individual school districts comply with IDEA.

The reality is that parents are the main enforcement mechanism of special education law. Below are 4 tips to help you ensure that your school district is complying with IDEA, for the benefit of your child.

1. Develop a working knowledge of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. By doing this, you will know where to look when you need a particular section of the law. For Example: If you would like to look at what is required for a free appropriate public education (FAPE), you would look under 300.101. Or Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) at 300.115.

2. Develop a working knowledge of your state regulations on special education (This is how the state is going to comply with IDEA). Some states regulations are actually better for children and parents, than federal law. By understanding these, you will be able to use them to ensure that your school district is complying with the educational law. You can get a copy of your state regulations from your state board of education.

3. Bring copies of the laws with you to any IEP meeting for your child, and place them on the table. You will be able to look up certain sections during the meeting, in case you need them.

By bringing up the special education laws that apply, you will make sure that you school district is following them. You also want to make sure, that the special education personnel in your district understand that you know the laws, and that you will be making sure that they follow them.

Also, when you write letters to school personnel, always quote IDEA or the state regulations, for special education when you can. This will help bolster your case, for whatever you are asking for.

For example: IDEA states, that my child has the right to a free appropriate public education, which I believe that she is not receiving at this time. In order for my child with a learning disability to receive FAPE, she must receive the appropriate amount of reading remediation, using simultaneous-multi sensory reading program such as Orton-Gillingham.

4. If your school district is in non compliance with the procedures of IDEA, consider filing a state complaint. The state complaint is filed with your state board of education; special education department.

The complaint should state the violation, the number in IDEA that is being violated, what your evidence is of the violation, and also the proposed resolution of the violation. Also, you can put more than one violation in a complaint, but number them for easier reading and tracking.

By doing these four things, you will be able to understand when special education personnel are not following special education law. It is sad that parents are the main enforcement arm of IDEA, but it is reality! Good luck, and stay focused, for the benefit of your child!

6 Parenting Tips on Special Education Law and Transportation

Are you the parent of a child with autism or a physical disability that needs transportation? Do you wonder what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states is the schools responsibility, to provide transportation for your child? This article will discuss what IDEA requires as far as transportation for your child with a disability. Also discussed are parenting tips that you can use, to help your child receive this important service.

Under IDEA transportation is considered a related service. A related service is transportation, developmental, corrective, and other services. . .as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. . .
What this means is that if your child requires transportation in order to benefit from their education, special education personnel are required to provide it.

Parenting Tips:

1. When advocating for your child, remember that; transportation not only means to and from school, but also in and around the school building, and any specialized equipment required by your child.

2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prevents discrimination on the basis of disability. The law reads: No qualified student shall on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any . . .transportation. . .or activity.

For Example: Your child with a physical disability is not allowed to go on a field trip, because the class cannot get the wheelchair bus. This would be a section 504 complaint, because your child is being discriminated against, on the basis of their disability. I have dealt with this situation, and the school district usually quickly fixes the transportation problem, if you tell them that you may file a Section 504 complaint. Section 504 is covered by the Office of Civil Rights in Washington, though each state has at least one office.

3. If your child requires an assistant in the classroom then you may be able to get a bus assistant, if your child’s disability requires it. The goal of transportation as a related service is to provide safe access to education. So if your child needs a bus assistant in order to get safely to school, school personnel are required to provide it.

4. If your school district is not providing needed transportation for your child, you can be reimbursed, for providing the transportation yourself. Make sure that your child’s IEP, states that they need transportation as a related service, and that you will be reimbursed.

A district may also be required to reimburse parents where:

A. Transportation is needed to provide FAPE and the district fails to meet its obligation.
B. The district doesn’t recognize the need for transportation.
C. The district makes inadequate provisions for transportation.

5. If your child’s extracurricular activity is related to their IEP goals and objectives, then transportation must be given. For Example: If your child has autism and needs to work on social skills, they can gain that from extra curricular activities. In that case transportation needs to be given by your school district.

6. School districts are not allowed to shorten your child’s school day due to transportation. Unfortunately it happens all the time, and you may have to stand up to special education personnel for the good of your child.

IDEA gives children with disabilities equal educational opportunity, which means a full school day. I have often said that if parents of children without disabilities found out there child was to leave school early for transportation, they would be outraged. But parents of special needs children are supposed to accept it. Do not accept it, stand up for your child.

This article has given you a lot of good information about transportation, that you can use to benefit your child’s education.