Understanding Special Education Law & Rights

Special education law is designed to protect children with special needs. Children with disabilities have legal rights concerning special education. Public schools are obligated to provide all children with appropriate education. Unfortunately, sometimes parents of children with special needs do not know about the choices they have regarding the education of their children. Understanding special education law and rights will help them feel secure for their children’s future.

You will ask what special education is. Well, special education is the one designed to help those children who have disabilities, developmental or emotional disorders to get education based on individual plans and methods that will ensure a child’s progress.

There are three laws that apply to children with disabilities and that help children get education:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Let us concentrate on the main law called Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or just IDEA. There are several categories of children with disabilities who qualify under this law. The categories include autism, deaf or blindness, mental retardation, emotional disorders, traumatic brain injuries, specific learning disabilities and so on.

The IDEA offers different rights to the parents. First of all it serves to ensure free appropriate public education for the children with special needs. Children with disabilities need a differentiated approach of teaching and learning; this means that each child may need an individual method of teaching. Thus, a child may need an Individualized Education Program or just IEP. Before choosing an Individual Education Program for a child with special needs, he/she must be evaluated and assessed by a professional. Only after this procedure the school and the parents should agree on a teaching program and methods appropriate for the child.

Special education law helps the parents to protect their children’s rights. If the school acts in a discriminatory way or if it refuses to provide the child with appropriate education then the parents may turn to an attorney to file a claim under the above mentioned laws protecting children with disabilities. Remember that it is crucial to turn to a special education lawyer at the right moment.


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