Learn How to Stay On Top Of the Latest Issues In Special Education

If you have a child who needs special education accommodations in school, it’s helpful for you to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of special education, both locally and around the country. More often than not, the issues that surround this topic will be of the legal variety, so you’ll need find ways to keep track of legal cases and happenings that might pertain to you and your child.

Since the world of special education is a highly politicized and sometimes controversial topic, you need to educate yourself about the rule of law and how the topic is shifting and being shaped in our culture and political climate.

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As a parent, you might have already found yourself at odds with your local school district over the rights of your child. If that hasn’t happened already, it could very well happen in the future. When that time comes, you’ll want to be prepared and informed about the issues of special education in general.

To keep track of both national and local news related to this topic, here are a few strategies:

1. Blogs and Newsletters that pertain to special education and the law

There are a surprisingly high number of blogs online about this topic, most of which are geared to teachers, but some for parents as well. Even the information on the teacher’s blogs can be helpful to parents.

It’s just a good way to stay current and up to date on the world of special education, as the information included will be relevant to anyone interested in the topic.

Here’s a list of 50 different special education blogs that are designed for teachers, but can be helpful to parents as well.

2. Join local advocacy groups

Depending on where you live, you might find some local advocacy groups that you can join as a parent of a special needs child. Often times these can be associated with religious organizations, so check with some local churches to see if there’s a group that you could be a part of.

3. Talk to teachers

Since they’re the ones working directly with your children, they could be a great resource in finding out what you need to know and what’s happening in the world of special education. While they might not be able to answer every question, they can certainly point you in the right direction or provide you with the right materials.

4. Talk to a special education lawyer

In the event that you have some serious or pressing questions about you and your child’s rights, a special education lawyer is the most qualified person you could speak to. A lot of attorneys will often offer consultations to help you assess your situation, and whether you or not you have a case on your hands.

Staying Informed

However you choose to do it, just make sure that you consistently stay informed. There are plenty of resources out there for you to choose from, so pick the one that works best for you and use it for as long as your child is in school.

Do You Need to Hire a Special Education Attorney?

When you have a special needs child in the school system, there is always the potential for disagreement between you and your school district about how the needs of your child must be met and handled.

Because of the special education laws in our country, children with special needs must be accommodated for under the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA) and the Individualized Education Program (IEP). These two laws mean that the school system must take certain measures to make sure your child is in a situation where they’re able to get a quality education, which can often mean that certain changes and exceptions must be made on an individual basis.

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If you feel like those accommodations and exceptions aren’t being made for your child, it might be time to get a third party involved who can fight for the rights of your child.

A special education attorney can help you in a variety of ways, from being a simple behind the scenes consultant, up to representing you in court. Regardless of what level of involvement you might need, a special education attorney will know the ins and outs of these laws, as well as the rights of you and your child, and the rights of the school district.

But what are some other reasons or scenarios where an attorney could help you?

Assuming a dispute or disagreement between you and your school district, here are a few places where you may need some help.

Dealing with complexity: The complexities and specifics that you might face as parents of a special needs child can be daunting, even on a good day. IDEA and IEP, like any laws, are complex in the rights that they afford to both you and the school district, and understanding those complexities can take a lot of time.

What an attorney can do for you is provide you with a “readers digest” version, since they’ve already studied and understood the law more fully than you would ever have time to do.

Dealing with a loaded-for-bear school district:  If the school district that you disagree with brings their attorney into the picture, that might be your cue to do the same. Try not to worry about damaging your relationship with the district, as it’s already on thin ice if they have an attorney in the picture.

By making that move, they’ve lit the torch to start burning their side of the bridge, and when that happens, there’s no reason to leave yourself defenseless. At that point, your child’s rights take precedence over your relationship with the school.

If your case is strong: If you believe you have a strong case, and you’re confident about your own interpretation of the law, then hiring an attorney is more likely to pay off than if you’re unsure about your situation.

Often times special education attorneys will allow for a free consultation period where they can inform you as to whether or not you are on the right track. If so, hiring that attorney to represent you will be a much safer bet.

To save you time and energy: You probably already work a full time job and have a lot going on. The last thing you want to do is spend your evenings devoting time to reading the IDEA act and trying to filter the information given to you by the school district. If you don’t have the time to devote to that task, an attorney can do it in a more timely manner and can relay you the information, probably in a more clear way than you would be able to pick up on your own.

Making the Call

Hiring an attorney is a big decision, and there’s no easy answer as to when that’s right or necessary. However when you’re dealing with a special needs child and you’re paying taxes that fund the public school system, your child needs to be accommodated and taken care of.

A special education attorney will know exactly how to fight for your child, and make sure that they’re getting both a proper and lawful education.

Special Education Student Rights: What You Need to Know

The average school day for a special education student is evolving every year. The stigma for putting an in-need student into a special education class is practically gone. Children with learning disabilities, physical issues, psychiatric disorders, and behavioral problems are getting a better education than ever before. Educators are discovering the best ways to cater lessons to individuals that need extra help.

 As a parent with a special education student, it can be scary to trust somebody else to ensure that your child is getting what they need in class. If you begin the process by educating yourself on the rights of you and your student, you will feel better equipped to protect your family.

 

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

 In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was put into effect. As ideas and attitudes toward disabled children changed, so did the act. It was eventually transformed into IDEA as a way to provide public education for special needs students.

Children who fall under IDEA’s public education services must be under 21 with learning disabilities, autism, serious emotional disturbance, traumatic brain injury, visual and hearing impairment, or physical disabilities. If you child falls into one of those categories, the state is required to provide free appropriate public education.

 Section 504

 It’s your child’s civil right to a public education. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ensures that. Public schools can’t discriminate against any child with special needs under this statute.

It also covers your child’s rights to extra curricular activities. That means that the school can’t exclude a special needs child from playgrounds, band, assemblies, field trips, off site programs, clubs, after school programs, summer programs, or graduation. An educator or adult supervisor can’t exclude your child from an activity simply because he or she doesn’t want to deal with a child with disabilities.

 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

 ADA, which was first put into action in 1990, is a broad protection for people with special needs. It protects their employment, transportation, public accommodations, and more. Part of this act specifically pertains to school children with disabilities. By law, public schools may not deny your child the proper educational services. This also includes extra curricular activities and programs that other students are entitled to participate in.

What Your Child Needs

 It’s important to know exactly what sort of education your child needs. For special needs students, it’s not enough to just have one classroom. There is so much individual attention that your child needs to focus on their specific disability. You should feel comfortable keeping in contact with your child’s teacher and express your questions and concerns.

 You should also ensure that your child is evaluated by the school to see if they need occupational, physical, or speech therapy. It’s also possible that your child may need a classroom aide. If your child isn’t tested, some part of his or her development will get delayed.

 What You Need to Do

 Keep records of everything. Record every communication with your child’s teachers and the school. Also ask the school for copies of their school district’s Section 504 in case the school ends up deny your child any educational and extracurricular services.

 It’s essential that you be an advocate for your child’s rights in order to make sure they get the best education possible. But the intricacies of special needs education laws can make it hard to know and understand every right available to your child. If you need help or think that your special needs child’s rights have been violated, consider reaching out to a special needs lawyer.