Education Law and Faith Schools

According to recent estimates, almost a third of all schools in England and Wales are faith schools, and almost a quarter of all children are educated in a faith school. These types of schools were a key plank in the labour government’s strategy for education, and the Coalition has indicated that it will continue to increase the amount of educational services which are provided by religious groups.

There are three types of faith schools: voluntary aided, voluntary controlled and independent religious schools, and different rules apply to each of these.

Voluntary Controlled Faith Schools
These are schools which are funded by the state and where the state is responsible for the day-to-day management and control of the school. The buildings and land are owned by a religious group, and that religious group has the right to appoint the governors and often the head teacher, but other teachers are employed by the local education authority. The appointment of these teachers is subject to the same conditions as teachers in regular state schools and there is no requirement that the teachers profess the same faith as the religious group which established the school.

In voluntary controlled faith schools, the admissions policy is set and administered by the local education authority. This means that these types of schools are usually open to all students and there is no requirement that the student has an attachment to the faith held by the religious group which established the school.

Voluntary Aided Faith Schools
These are schools which are funded by the state but are managed and controlled by a religious group. The religious group owns the land and buildings, appoints the governors of the school and selects and appoints teachers. All teachers are directly employed by the religious group, and it is lawful for the religious group to require teachers to profess the same faith and to discipline staff for breaching religious principles or acting in a way which is inconsistent with the schools ethos.

In voluntary aided faith schools, the admissions policy is determined and enforced by the governors of the school. This means that very often prospective students are required to demonstrate some adherence to the religious principles on which the school is founded.

Independent Faith Schools
These are schools which are entirely funded and controlled by a religious group. The religious group appoints the governors and employs all of the staff as well as setting the admissions policy. Independent faith schools often require both teachers and students to be professing members of a particular religious sect or denomination, and can discipline both staff and students if they act in a way which is inconsistent with the schools ethos and religious values.

Teaching in Faith and Religious Schools
Both voluntary aided and voluntary controlled faith schools are required to teach the national curriculum, and students will cover the same subjects as pupils in other state maintained schools. The only exception to this is in the case of religious education, where faith schools are allowed to set their own curriculum which will usually focus on the religious beliefs held by the charity or church which founded the school. Voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools are also entitled to insist that religious education is taught by a professing member of a particular faith or denomination.

There is no requirement for independent faith schools to teach the national curriculum and these schools will set their own subjects and studies.

For a variety or reasons, ranging from smaller class sizes to higher standards of discipline many faith schools have better league table results than other state run schools and this makes them highly desirable. Many parents will consider legal challenges to admission criteria to try and get their children a place.

Special Education Laws

Special education refers to the education of children with physical disorders or disabilities, psychiatric disorders, emotional distress, behavioral disorders, and learning disorders. Traditional educational techniques or school programs do not sufficiently meet the requirements of these children. Children with special education needs are guaranteed rights to services in schools under federal and state laws. These laws include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA 1997), and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). These laws guarantee special education programs and financial assistance for disabled children and youth in the United States.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 is a federal law that governs all special education services for children in the United States. The major objective of IDEA is to provide free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. The IDEA 2004 is a revision or reauthorization of IDEA 1997, which preserves the civil rights guarantees of IDEA 1997, but makes substantial changes regarding how schools determine whether a child has learning disability and needs special education services. Services to very young children, i.e., infants and toddlers, are also covered under the IDEA. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights legislative act, which proscribes discrimination against children with disabilities and provides them with reasonable accommodations. Under section 504, any person who has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity is considered disabled.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) commands all educational institutions to meet the needs of children with psychiatric problems. In the United States, procedures for the implementation of the Federal laws and procedural safeguards are different in different states and therefore parents should have a good knowledge of the rules and regulations in their particular area. For any assistance, parents can always contact the regional office of the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

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.