Special Education Law
The Federal and State governments have passed some very important laws regarding Special Education. These laws strengthen the rights of exceptional students and their parents. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973)
This is an anti-discrimination statute that is intended to prevent or eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities by any federal program or activity receiving federal funds. Education of All Handicapped Children Act (1975)
Since 1975, the Act has been reauthorized five times, most recently in 1997 (see IDEA ’97). The purpose of the original act was to meet the educational needs of children with disabilities by providing them with access to a free appropriate, public education. It provided states and local school systems with supplemental resources to meet the educational needs of children with disabilities who meet the eligibility requirements of the Act. Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), Title II
The ADA reinforced and expanded the provisions of Section 504 by mandating the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workplace and public transportation services, as well as in education. It provides clear and enforceable federal standards for addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
IDEA ’97 encompasses six basic principles: (1) free appropriate public education; (2) appropriate evaluation; (3) individualized education program; (4) least restrictive environment; (5) parent and student participation in decision making; (6) procedural due process.The purpose of these laws is to ensure that all exceptional children, ages three through twenty-one have available to them a free, appropriate public education (FAPE).
The term “Free Appropriate Public Education” refers to providing special education and related services (specially designed instruction) at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of an exceptional child (child with a disability). These laws guarantee you and your child certain rights. These rights are summarized below. You will receive a copy of “Your Rights as the Parents of an Exceptional Child” at your first meeting at school to discuss a referral of your child. You may get an additional copy of this pamphlet at any time by calling your child’s school.
What are Your Rights? NOTICE – You have the right to be informed (receive notice) in writing any time the school plans or refuses to identify, evaluate (test) or change the placement of your child.
PERMISSION – You must give your permission before your child is tested and before your child is placed in a special education program for the first time.
EVALUATION – You have the right to a full evaluation of your child’s individual needs and an explanation of the results of the evaluation (testing).
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) – The written plan developed for your child, with your participation, designed to meet the needs identified in the evaluation.
EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR PROGRAM (ESYP) – The program that goes beyond the 185-day school year designed to serve students with disabilities who meet specific screening requirements.
LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (LRE) – You have the right to have your child educated with non-exceptional children to the maximum extent possible.
RECORDS – You have the right to see any educational records regarding your child and the right to know what the school will do to ensure the confidentiality of these records.
MEDIATION – The informal, voluntary process where parents and the local education agency (LEA) are given the opportunity, with the help of a trained mediator, to resolve their differences and find solutions to enhance the overall learning environment for the child.
DUE PROCESS – The formal process used when mediation is unsuccessful to resolve differences between parents and the local education agency.
ATTORNEY FEES – You have the right to be paid for reasonable attorney fees and costs if the Hearing Officer rules in your favor in a dispute against the school under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
– You may wish to contact the East Baton Rouge School System advocate at 929-8719 or an advocacy group for advice. Families Helping Families (225) 667-9861 (www.fhfla.org/fhfla/
) ; The Advocacy Center (225) 925-8884.
EXCEPTIONALITIES The exceptionalities listed below are identified in the Louisiana Pupil Appraisal Handbook. Exceptionalities and their definitions may vary from state state.
AUTISM – a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before the age of three that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
DEAF/BLINDNESS – a combination of hearing and vision impairments which
causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational
problems that such students may require specific educational services to meet
the needs resulting from both impairments.
DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY – an exceptionality in which children, ages 3 through 9 are identified as experiencing delays in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development or adaptive development.
EMOTIONAL/BEHAVIORAL DISORDER – a disability characterized by behavioral or
emotional responses so different from appropriate age, cultural or ethical norms that adversely affect performance. Performance includes academic, social, vocational and/or personal skills. Emotional/Behavioral Disorders can co-exist with other disabilities.
HEARING IMPAIRMENT – an auditory sensitivity (as measured by conventional behavioral audiological techniques or physiological measures) so deficient as to significantly interfere with educational performance.
LEARNING DISABILITIES – severe and unique learning problems as a result of significant difficulties in the acquisition, organization or expression of specific academic skills or concepts. These learning problems are typically manifested in school functioning as significantly poor performance in such areas as reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic reasoning and calculation, oral expression or comprehension, or the acquisition of basic concepts.
MULTIPLE DISABILITIES – a combination of disabilities which causes such severe educational problems that these pupils cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.
NON-CATEGORICAL PRESCHOOL – an exceptionality in which students three years through age five; but not enrolled in a state approved kindergarten, are identified as having a disabling condition which is described according to functional or developmental levels, as mild/moderate or severe/profound.
OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENTS – limited strength, vitality and alertness due to chronic or acute health problems. ORTHOPEDIC IMPAIRMENTS – a severe orthopedic disability which adversely affects a student’s educational performance.
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY – an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.