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Special Education and Disability Access: Alleging IDEA Violations

Procedures for Alleging Violations of Statutes Protecting Disabled Children

Since IDEA is a funding statute, if a local agency fails to provide free appropriate public education to a disabled child, the remedy is that the agency loses its federal funding. Many parents of disabled children, however, seek judicial and other remedies when they feel the education being provided to their child is not sufficient. The initial body required under IDEA and other statutes to hear a complaint is the state education authority, which must hold an impartial hearing. Specific procedures that must be followed are set forth in IDEA regulations. Once the state education authority makes its decision, a parent may appeal to another state-level agency. Parents should consult their own state's laws to determine which is the appropriate agency for such an appeal.

Judicial bodies, including either a federal or a state court, can review administrative proceedings. Judicial action may not take place until the parties have exhausted each of their administrative remedies. The most typical remedy sought by parents in cases involving special education is injunctive or declaratory relief, although in some cases, monetary damages may be appropriate.

Complaints for infringement of the ADA in schools should be filed with the Department of Education. Once administrative remedies have been exhausted, parties may seek judicial review. Like the remedies under IDEA, most parents seek injunctive or declaratory relief, such as a court order requiring that a school provide the requested access.

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