Services and Support for Students With Disabilities
Welcome to FindLaw's Education Services and Disabilities section. Some students require education accommodations at school, and laws have been passed to ensure students get the access and assistance they need. Ensuring these laws are followed is the responsibility of school officials.
This section provides articles and resources to help you with a wide variety of accessibility and education topics, including:
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Eligibility for IDEA services
- Individualized education plans (IEP's)
- Summaries of state laws on education services and disability access
- Tips on how to prepare for IEP meetings
Overview of Public Education Support Laws
All education support and services laws are derived from the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which determines how state agencies provide individual education and other services to children with disabilities.
Central to this law is the concept of providing a "Free Appropriate Public Education" (FAPE) with the goal of preparing children with disabilities for employment and independent living. The law, applicable to children aged three to 21, provides individualized educational programs.
The parents of children with disabilities also have certain rights under IDEA, including the right to review all school records, to be an equal member of the IEP team, and to suggest an alternative to the IEP when necessary.
Children with the following conditions are entitled to rights under IDEA:
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Intellectual disability
- Multiple disabilities
- Speech-language impairment
- Visual impairment
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Orthopedic impairment
- Specific learning disability (SLD) (such as dyslexia)
- Other health impairments (subject to approval)
Individualized Education Plans (IEP)
Each child who qualifies for accommodations under the law is entitled to an IEP. This plan details the child's performance level, how their disability affects academic performance and any accommodations that must be provided for the student.
The IEP team is created to develop this plan and meets annually to discuss any changes that may need to be made. The IEP team must include at least one of the student's regular classroom teachers, a teacher focused on accessibility or disability education, a psychologist or someone who can determine the educational implications of the evaluation, an administrator, and a qualified representative of the local education agency. The student's parents also may be part of the team.
IDEA & ADA Violations
Any agency, such as a school district, that fails to provide FAPE support to eligible students risks losing their federal funding. Complaints by parents and students are heard by the state education authority, which must hold an impartial meeting about the complaint. Parents also may appeal the decision to another state agency if they are not satisfied with the outcome. If the complaint involves an alleged breach of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it should be addressed to the federal Department of Education.
Learn more about education services and disabilities by clicking on the links below.
- Special Education and Disability Access: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- Special Education and Disability Access: Additional Legislation
- How to Prepare for IEP Meetings
- Special Education and Disability Access: Alleging IDEA Violations
- Q&A on Disability Discrimination in Education Under Federal Law
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