What are your rights as a student or a parent? What recourse do you have if those rights are violated or ignored?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees certain rights to students and parents. Students with disabilities must have individualized education plans (IEP) that include offers of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and these students are entitled to receive their education within the least restrictive environment (LRE).
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
If a student has a disability the school district must write an IEP for him or her, which includes its offer of FAPE. This offer of FAPE is a binding contract for services between the school district and the parent. As such, if the school does not provide the services agreed upon within the IEP it is in violation of the law. This does not mean that school district officials will go to jail. Rather, it means that the school district will likely be found to be out of compliance with the law.
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
The words “free” and “appropriate” mean that every student is entitled to an education that is based upon the student's unique needs. It also means that under no circumstances should a parent be asked to pay for any or all of it. As a parent, you can certainly choose to supplement your child’s education with private tutors or service providers, but the school district cannot ask you to pay for the services it outlines within its offer of FAPE. It is also important to note that an “appropriate” education does not mean the “best” education. As such, supplementary services may be necessary.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The law also requires that students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment. This means that the school district must show that it has attempted to provide services to the student in a classroom setting that is as close to the general education setting as possible. Unless your student has severe medical or physical impairments that require specialized staff, school districts should try to include him or her in the general education classroom as much as possible. If the school district would like to offer services in a more exclusive environment, such as a special education classroom, it must prove that the student cannot be successful in a less restrictive environment.
If you have questions regarding IEPs, FAPE, or LRE contact S.Council Law Firm, LLC for an initial consultation.