U.S. Federal and state law mandate every child receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE).
When a child receives a special education, it means the child has been determined to have a disability that requires they must receive “special educational services” to take full advantage of their right to a FAPE.
1. What Disabilities Qualify a Child for Special Education?
The list of disabilities that qualify a child for special education services is extensive and includes the following:
- Specific learning disability, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, or nonverbal
- Impairments, such as speech, language, visual (including blindness), hearing, and orthopedic
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Emotional disturbance
- Intellectual disability
- Traumatic brain injury
- Multiple disabilities
However, a disability is almost any problem a child may have that impacts their ability to maintain normal academic progress.
2. What Should I Do if I Think My Child Might Have a Learning Disability?
If you believe your child has a disability that is affecting their ability to learn in school, you should submit a written request to your child’s school for an assessment and an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).
An IEP is a program created for children with disabilities who need specialized help to participate in a FAPE.
Under this program, an IEP is designed to help a student with their individual needs, which may include instruction, supports, and services the student needs to be successful in the educational program.
An IEP will focus on developing specific skills and behaviors and may include the use of assistive technologies.
You should write your request for an IEP to the school’s special education director, along with copies for the school principal and your child’s teacher.
This letter should specify:
- Your concerns.
- That it acts as a referral for an assessment.
- That you want to see an assessment plan within 15 days.
If your child has a current IEP and you wish to review or change it, you should submit a written request for an IEP meeting to your child’s teacher, principal, and special education coordinator.
Remember, this meeting should be held within 30 days from when your letter was received.
3. What if I Don’t Agree with the School’s Assessment or IEP?
If you do not agree with the school’s assessment, you can request an Independent Educational Evaluation in writing. This independent evaluation will be paid for by the school district at an outside facility chosen by the district.
Furthermore, a Due Process Hearing may be necessary if the district is unwilling to provide an independent assessment.
If you do not agree with the proposed IEP, discuss your concerns with the IEP team to try to reach a consensus. Above all, DO NOT SIGN IT if you cannot reach an agreement on the IEP plan!
Present your case in a written letter to the IEP team. And if you cannot agree, you can ask for a Due Process Hearing.
Either party can ask for a Due Process Hearing. At these hearings, a judge specializing in special education law will make an impartial decision to resolve the agreement.
Things to Remember
Please keep in mind individual’s circumstances vary. We wrote this blog post as a general guideline. Your life circumstances are unique.
For personal answers that address your unique circumstances, contact my office today and make an appointment to speak to one of our attorneys.
Mention this blog post, and you’ll receive a special education consultation for only $50 (normally $100)!