Under normal circumstances raising a child can be a roller coaster of emotions.  It is both rewarding and frustrating and every other emotion in between.  These emotions are all the more exasperated when the child the is being raised is a child of special needs.  When raising a special needs child, a person not only needs to learn how to be a parent but also an advocate to ensure their child gets the services they need. In this article, we will discuss the basics of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.

What are The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act?

The Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) is the set of laws that exist to assist parents with services for children with special needs. IDEA was passed in 1975 to give rights and protections to children with disabilities. IDEA requires school districts to offer evaluations for students suspected of having a disability. If a child has a disability, then the school district must provide the child with services to assist them with their disability.

Does IDEA Cover Every Disability?

Unfortunately, IDEA is not designed nor able to cover every single disability. The purpose of IDEA is to assist with the most common disabilities. For a child to receive assistance under IDEA, they must have a disability and that disability must be interfering with their learning ability.  Their disability must fall under one of thirteen categories:

  • Autism
  • Blindness
  • Deadness
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Speech Impairment
  • Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment

What Happens if a Child Qualifies For IDEA?

If a child qualifies under IDEA, then 10 procedural safeguards kick in.  They are as follows:

  1. Firstly, there are procedural safeguards notices. This requires the school district to provide a parent rights their child is entitled to under IDEA and applicable state laws.
  2.  Additionally, there must be parent participation. The school district cannot prevent the parents from participating in any decision that impacts the child’s learning or development.
  3. Then, the school must provide access to records. The school district must provide the parent access to all school records on the child and must correct any mistakes found in those records.
  4. In addition, the school must offer guaranteed confidentiality. The school district must guarantee the confidentiality of your child’s personal information.
  5. Parental consent. The school district must obtain parental consent before providing any evaluations or services.
  6. Prior written notice. The school district must provide a written notice to any changes in a child’s services.
  7. Laypersons language. The school district must communicate services or issues in terms that a layperson can easily understand.
  8. Right to seek an independent educational evaluation (IEE). If a parent disagrees with the school district evaluation, the parent has a right to seek an IEE by someone who is not employed by the school district. The school district must take into account the findings of an IEE, but it does not have to accept it over their evaluation.
  9. Schools must also provide “Stay put” protection. If the school district proposes a change to services that a parent disagrees with, then the “stay put” production keeps the services in place until a solution can be found.
  10. Finally, there must be access to dispute resolution options. If a disagreement occurs between the school district and the parent, the parent has the right to have the disagreement resolved through mediation.

In Conclusion

Sometimes a parent’s love is not enough to ensure a child gets what they need. There are times when a family might need the service of a professional to ensure that a special needs child gets every right they are entitled to. The attorneys at Thompson Law have years of experience in advocating for families of special needs and ensuring they get the rights and services entitled to them.