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.
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.