-Special Needs Trusts
-Letters of Intent
Special Education Advocacy
-Due Process Hearings
-Section 504 Hearings
Special Education Law and Disability Law Advocacy
When a school district denies a child a free, appropriate public education (FAPE), parents have a right to challenge the district in a due process hearing. These challenges relate to the evaluation, classification, program and placement and/or implementation of services. When a parent invokes a due process hearing an impartial hearing officer is appointed to hear each parties position and then decide the dispute.
The hearing process is much like a trial, with each side presenting evidence and sworn testimony. At the conclusion of the hearing, usually, both sides prepare written briefs arguing the facts and the law, before the hearing officer renders a decision. If either party disagrees with the decision, they can seek review in the Federal Court.
Section 504 Hearings
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is an federal statute that provides important rights for students with disabilities. Section 504 prohibits all recipients of federal funding from discriminating on the basis of an individuals disability. All public schools are recipients of some form of federal funding and therefore must comply with Section 504. A key difference between the IDEA and Section 504 is that Section 504 applies to any student with a disability, whether or not the student is classified under the IDEA as a student with a disability. A disability is a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, working and learning. More children qualifying under Section 504 than under the IDEA, as there is a broader standard of disability. Under Section 504, a child with a disability is entitled to a 504 Plan, or if classified under the IDEA, to an IEP. A 504 Plan accommodates the child's disability, and may also include services to address the child's needs. A child with a 504 Plan is entitled to a free, appropriate public education which can include both special education and related services. When a parent believes their child is not receiving appropriate services under Section 504, or if the 504 Plan is not being implemented, the parent has a right to a due process hearing. Parents who are not satisfied with the results of the hearing may bring an action in the United States District (Federal) Court.
Frequently Asked Questions About Special Education
What is a 504 Plan?
A “504 plan” with regard to students is a plan of accommodations and modifications required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended (ADAAA). Both of these federal statutes specify that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities. This specifically includes elementary, secondary or postsecondary schooling. The term disability in the context of a 504 Plan is different (and in many ways not as stringent) than definition applied for an IEP. In the context of a 504 plan, a disability refers to a “physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.” This can include any type of physical impairments; illnesses or injuries; communicable diseases; chronic conditions like asthma, allergies and diabetes; and learning problems.
A 504 plan spells out the modifications and accommodations that a child needs to have in order to have an opportunity perform at the same level as his or her peers. This can include such things as wheelchair ramps, blood sugar monitoring, an extra set of textbooks, a peanut-free lunch environment, home instruction, or a tape recorder, extended time on examinations, preferential seating, or a keyboard for taking notes or other assistive technology devices.
What is an IEP?
IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. An IEP is a legally binding document that defines what special education and related services your child will receive and why. The document includes your child’s classification, placement, services such as a one-on-one aide and therapies, academic and behavioral goals, a behavior plan if needed, percentage of time in regular education, and progress reports from teachers and therapists. The IEP is planned at an IEP Team Meeting.
When do I need to get a Lawyer involved in advocating for my child?
The answer to this question is always case specific. Some of the reasons to contact our firm are: When you suspect there are academic, social or emotional problems or delays that are impacting on any aspect of your child’s functioning. Some examples of this can include:
How can I obtain an independent evaluation of my child?
Can the school district suspend my child?