Special Education – The Law is on Your Side

Help is available– and the law is on your side. Its promise is simple: Every child counts. Every child is entitled to an education. Every eligible child with a disability is entitled to a “special” education – one that confers “meaningful benefits.” That is what Congress has said. That is what the United States Supreme Court has said.

The law protects every child. The law protects you as your child’s parent.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – Every special-education student must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) developed by a team that includes parents, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals. An IEP establishes educational goals and describes the special services that will be provided to the student.

Due Process – Special-Education law provides many due-process hearing and appeal procedures.
“Section 504″Classroom accommodations are available to many students (K-12 and college) who have disabilities.

There are only five modes of communication that can lead to a disability; they are auditory, visual, verbal, nonverbal and tactical communication.

If your child’s disability is affecting their education, they may be eligible to receive services under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. The IDEA requires public schools to locate and identify children with disabilities who may need specialized education. These children must “have available” to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs” 20 U.S.C. sec. 140(d). Children with disabilities must “to the maximum extent appropriate [be] educated with children who are not disabled” 20 U.S. C. 1412 (e)(5).

Many parents find themselves in a situation where their child is either struggling academically or having discipline problems in school. Often times, there maybe an unidentified disability causing these problem. If they do have a disability that is negatively affecting their education, they would likely benefit from special education services.

Special Education services may include:
Occupational therapy
Speech and language therapy
Resource specialist programs
Modification of the regular education programs
Special day classes
Non-public schools
Residential treatment, and many more.

If you believe your child will benefit from special education services call a professional. Your child only goes through their education process once, so give your child the best chance for the future by making sure they have the type of education that helps them learn and succeed. Nothing is more important to their future.

No Child Left Behind Education Law to Be Revamped?

In 2002, when the “No Child Left Behind” education act was passed it was for educational reform targeted to change the use of Federal funds to close the achievement gap and improve the achievement levels of America’s students. The Federal funding required states to fund their own expenses in order to adhere to the law and gain the Federal monies.

Between 1965 and 2001, $120 billion a year in Federal dollars was allotted to close the achievement gap between rich and poor. Yet, today, we see this gap growing wider.

Now legislators are calling for a revamping of the law in order to make it more flexible and effective.

With 70% of inner city fourth graders unable to read at a basic level on national reading tests, concerns are being raised. Since our high school seniors trail students in Cyprus, China and South Africa on international math tests, educators are seeking ways to ameliorate those statistics for America. Nearly a third of students entering colleges and universities today are required to take remedial classes before they can even begin to participate in regular college courses.

So what is the hope of advocates of the “No Child Left Behind” law? The objective is the same as it was a decade ago. The methods, however, are now in question. How to make educators and school districts accountable for their performance is a mammoth undertaking. With states, like Texas, reducing state funds to schools, the problem of student achievement is increasingly frightening.

Teachers and schools are already burdened with the task of meeting high expectations for educators and more and more involved curricula. Frankly, teachers and schools need tons of assistance that is going to be missed when teachers, teacher assistants and whoever is considered “non-essential staff” are let go because of lack of funding.

One giant contribution which Americans can make toward improving the achievement of our students is by volunteering in the schools. Volunteerism, by its nature, is the giving of oneself, one’s talents and time. That is a service that cannot be legislated. Willing service from those who are equipped to offer it is the component that is embarrassingly missing in Elementary and Secondary Education in America today.

American adults have the ability to contribute and make a positive impact on children’s education. Teachers and Administrators need our help. Students who are “at risk” desperately need our help.

You’ve heard that old idealism ” If I can make a difference in the life of just one child…” Well, we can. It is not so difficult. In working with a Third Grader at a nearby Elementary School, I got a real kick out of his response to a simple suggestion aimed at reducing his obvious stress as he viewed a full page of text his teacher gave him to read. I just asked him to go the second page and read the questions first. Then I showed him how he could scan the passage for keywords that would lead him to the correct answers.

The passage was in the format used for the achievement test mandated by the state of Texas. He has to be able to manage that format in order to be successful. That little boy was thrilled and completed the assignment independently and with enthusiasm. We were both pleased. His teacher was relieved to know that he could work independently. After all, she has a lot of other students for whom she is accountable and she wants each of them to be successful.

Whether or not the “No Child Left Behind” education law remains a Federally funded initiative and is extended by the next school year, our help as educated adults may be crucial to students’ futures.

That tutoring session was just 45 minutes long. The student’s confidence in his abilities is growing exponentially. Volunteerism certainly is a “win-win” process! Try it. Help out in America’s mission to improve students’ achievement.

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.