10 Things Parents of Children With Disabilities Need To Know When They Enter The School System

1.9 min readPublished On: July 13, 2021Categories: FamilyTags:
  1. The district must provide your child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) FAPE means that all special education and related services must be free, meet the child’s unique needs, are at an appropriate setting, and provided in connection with the Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
  2. The district must educate your child in the most Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) that is possible.
  3. The district must assess your child in all areas of disability.
  4. The district must provide an assessment plan within 15 days of parents’ request for an assessment. District must conduct assessment and hold an IEP meeting within 60 days of receiving the signed assessment plan.
  5. The parents should request a copy of the assessments to be provided to them 5 days before the IEP. Parents should notify the school if they plan to bring an advocate or attorney to the IEP or if they need an interpreter or other accommodation within a reasonable amount of time prior to the IEP. Parents should notify the school 24 hours prior to the IEP if they wish to record the IEP.
  6. Eligibility does not drive services, needs and goals drive services.
  7. IEPs should happen at least once a year, within 30 days of parent’s request, after an assessment, or when a student is not making progress.
  8. Parents have a right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE), if the parents disagree with the district’s evaluation.
  9. The district only has two responses to a parents’ IEE request: either fund the IEE in a reasonable amount of time or file due process against the parents.
  10. If parents have a disagreement with the district, their main recourse is an administrative hearing called Due Process. If the student is successful, then the district pays the attorney’s fees. The vast majority (about 90%) are settled with a settlement agreement in which the district pays the student’s attorney’s fees.

Article written by Melissa (Meira) Amster, special education attorney and mother to five children, including a daughter with Down syndrome. After her daughter was born, Attorney Amster realized how difficult it is to advocate for a child with a disability.

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