“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
- Ignacio Estrada
Some Basic Steps in the
Special Education Process
• Child is identified as possibly needing special education.
• Child is properly evaluated within 60 school days.
• Response to Intervention (“RTI”) may not stall the process
• Eligibility for services is decided by school team and parents.
• Child is found eligible for services.
• IEP meeting takes place.
• Services are provided.
• Progress is continuously measured and reported under proper standards.
• IEP is reviewed annually and/ or as needed.
• Child may be reevaluated as needed by the request of either school or parent.
Manifestation Determination Review
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), when a student with a disability engages in behavior that results in school disciplinary action in the form of possible removal, the school must hold a meeting to determine whether the student’s behavior was a manifestation of his disability. This is a very important meeting wherein student’s rights must be protected. Schools should not discriminate by suspending a students for any behaviors that are a manifestation of their disabilities.
The John M. McKay Scholarships
The John McKay Scholarship (“McKay Scholarship”) is a Florida Department of Education program that allows eligible students with disabilities the option of attending a private school of their choice or another public school. If families are considering utilizing this school choice option, it is important to plan ahead and learn of certain eligibility and deadline requirements.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides certain rights to parents in order to resolve disputes with public schools. The options are Due Process Complaints, State Complaints and Mediation.
Due Process Complaint
A written complaint filed by a parent or a school district involving any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement or provision of a free appropriate public education to a student with a disability. It is important to remember that Due process complaints are required to be filled out within two years of the matter in dispute.
A mandatory meeting that the school district must convene within 15 days of receiving the parents’ due process complaint. The resolution session includes parents, members of the IEP team relevant to the complaint, and a representative of the school district who has decision-making authority.
Mediation is a free dispute resolution process. It may be requested by either the school district or the parent. It is a voluntary process by which a trained mediator assists the parties in resolving the conflict.
Office of Civil Rights Complaint (“OCR”)
The Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.
An online complaint may be filed for Section 504 and ADA complaints (among other Civil Rights Laws) related to education.
Due Process Hearing
A formal, legal procedure before an administrative law judge (or panel of judges) who is not an employee of the state education agency or school district. The parents and the school district present their arguments and evidence at the hearing.
Any alleged violation of Part B of the IDEA may be included in the state complaint. The complaint must be filed no later than one year from the date of occurrence of the alleged violation. The state education agency has 60 days to investigate and resolve the complaint. The state complaint process is a written process by which both parties may respond. It is typically a non-adversarial process.
Florida Anti Bullying Law
Florida Anti Bullying Law
The Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act (Florida Statute 1006.147), requires school districts to adopt an official policy prohibiting bullying and harassment of students and staff on school grounds, at school-sponsored events, and via school computer networks.
See more information about Bullying from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services
A Brief Review of Special Education Law
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975, mandates that children and young adults ages 3 through 22 with disabilities that adversely affects their education be provided a free and appropriate public school education.
The Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) is the cornerstone of an appropriate and quality education for students with disabilities.
To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, the student’s private therapists, other school staff and sometimes the student hold a formal meeting to determine the student's unique needs. These individuals make-up the IEP “team.” Based on certain evaluations and other information, the team designs an educational program that will allow the student to be involved in, and progress in, the general curriculum and make progress in all educational areas. The IEP guides the delivery of specialized instruction and or supports and services for the student with a disability. It also provides for the amount of time the student will be educated among non-disabled peers (placement).
The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA protects individuals with disabilities civil rights in employment, access to public transportation, access to public accommodations. It helps ensure that those who have disabilities have a life of freedom and equality. Public schools are covered under Title II of the ADA
The Assistive Technology Act
The Assistive Technology Act (“Tech Act”) is intended to increase disabled individual’s knowledge of, and access to, assistive technology devices and services. The purpose of the Act is to enable disabled individuals to more fully participate in education, employment, and daily activities on a level playing field with their communities.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
Section 504 is a civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities against discrimination.
Students with disabilities may be eligible for special services under Section 504. Section 504′s definition of disability is much broader than the IDEA’s definition. Often, students with disabilities are protected under both the IDEA and Section 504. To be protected under Section 504, a student must:
• have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
• have a record of such an impairment; or
• be regarded as having such an impairment.
Section 504 requires that school districts provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under this Section, a Free and Appropriate Education (‘FAPE”) means providing regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.(emphasis added)