Children with special needs should get the education to which they are entitled independent of the type of problem they have. This means that no school has got the right to refuse admitting these children or providing them with special services and help. There are several federal laws that provide protection to such children. Those laws are the following:
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990).
In different states the eligibility criteria, the availability of the services may vary. For a child to be eligible for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), he/she must be in one of the given conditions:
- Suffering from learning disabilities,
- Suffering from serious emotional troubles,
- Having mental retardation,
- Suffering from Autism,
- Suffering from hearing/vision problems,
- Having physical disabilities and so on.
As for the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it covers children with disabilities less severe that those covered by the IDEA. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990) requires that all educational institutions (except from those operated by religious organizations) provide educational services and programs to children with special needs.
Following is a short list of rights that your child may have in order to be eligible for special education and similar services:
- You can request in writing that the school carry an evaluation of your child’s disabilities. This is a multifaceted test that should reveal the needs of your child and will help the school when creating an individual learning program for your child.
- If the public school agrees that the child has got learning disabilities, the school should carry out the testing at no cost to the parents of the child.
- If the public school refuses to conduct the evaluation, the school should provide a written explanation for that.
- All the tests should be conducted in the mother tongue of your child. Limited English proficiency should not stand as hindrance for the child’s eligibility for special education.
These are some main facts about the laws that protect the rights of children with special needs. If you think you have been wrongfully denied special education services by a public school, you must contact a skilled lawyer to provide you with legal help. If you reside in the state of California, you can contact the Margarian Law Firm for legal assistance at (818) 553-1000.