Special Education Law – Overview

Many of us, who went to school not that long ago, remember that being a special needs student meant riding to school in a separate bus and attending one class with other children of varying disabilities. These classes resembled more of a day care than school, and even the most advanced students had little hope of receiving a high school diploma, let alone attend college. Since that time, the term disability, and special needs student, has expanded to encompass much more than a person with an IQ below a certain arbitrary standard. What I have attempted to do in my first article is to give a little history of the evolution of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In 1954 the United States Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) which found that segregated schools were a violation of equal protection rights. It would be another twenty years before this concept was applied to children with handicaps, especially learning disabilities, trying to receive an education. In fact, shortly after Brown was decided the Illinois Supreme Court found that compulsory education did not apply to mentally impaired students, and as late as 1969, it was a crime to try to enroll a handicapped child in a public school if that child had ever been excluded.

Due to court challenges in Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia in the early 1970’s things started to change. In 1975 Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975. This was the first law that mandated that all handicapped students had a right to an education. Not only did it mandate that all handicapped students had a right to an education, it also mandated that local educational agencies could be held accountable for not doing so. Shortly thereafter, the term handicapped was replaced with “child with a disability”. Although revised in 1990 as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the most comprehensive changes came in 1997. This law required schools to identify children with disabilities to make sure that all children have available a “free appropriate public education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living” 20 U.S.C. ยง 1401 (d). Unfortunately, the most recent changes in 2004 made the law slightly more difficult to receive the benefits they deserve, which, depending upon the next administration and the make up of Congress may or may not be a trend that will be followed in the future.

Exactly what is a “free appropriate public education”? Under the law, it is defined as “special education and related services that (A) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge: (B) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (C) include an appropriate preschool, elementary or secondary school education in the State involved; and (D) are provided in conformity with the individualized education program required under [the law].” In other words, the school must provide services that meet the needs of a child with a disability that may affect their ability to learn. These “related services” can be services that are provided in the classroom, such as giving the child extra time to finish taking tests. They can also encompass services that can be provided outside of the classroom, such as tutoring, or having the child attend either a day or residential program outside of the school, along with transportation.

For the historical data, I relied on Wrightslaw: Special Education Law by Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright and Special Education Law in Massachusetts by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.

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.

Educational Law

Grace Victor is working as a law teacher at East Willow high school in Newborn, Georgia.

I love teaching law. I completed my degree in law, and preferred to work as a teacher rather than becoming a lawyer. Its not that I have anything against legal practice, but it’s just that I prefer teaching. My dad always wanted me to be a teacher. So it was always my dream to be a teacher. When I enrolled into Law College, I wanted to learn law- not to practice it, but to teach it.

Education law deals with laws regarding colleges, universities and schools. School systems vary from state to state. The department of education administers public school working. In the United States, education is offered by public sector. The financial resources are received from 3 levels: local level, state level, and federal level. It is compulsory for children to get educated. The school policies like teaching, funding etc are determined by school boards that are locally elected. You can teach your kids at private or public schools. Or if you want, you can teach them at an approved home school program.

Education in US is generally categorized in 3 levels: high school, middle school, and elementary school. After these levels, comes college education, or post secondary education. There is a powerful concern regarding equality of education. You cannot discriminate your students based on their national origin, sex, color, or race. This has been stated in the Equal Education Opportunities Act (1974).

Parents are given a right to choose the best school for their kids. If they want, they can send their kids to private schools. However, these private schools are also regulated by state laws. According to the Establishment clause, these schools operate on their own funding, and no government funding is provided to them.

Apart from these schools, there are special schools for kids with disabilities. First, the special needs of the child are assessed, and accordingly, based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, he or she is sent to a special school.

In case you do not want your child to attend schooling from outside, you can home school him or her, but it requires a lot of time and attention. If you want to home school your child, you need to register with the department of education.

Educating your children is very easy in United States, and government has made full provisions that each and every child is educated.