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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Hello, I'm Karla Mitchell. Going through a legal case can be very expensive and challenging. I won't go into details, but I recently underwent my own legal battle that lasted several years. It is finally over and I successfully received a settlement, but I had to spend so much time studying law in order to play my role in my own court case. While I found a great attorney at one point, I felt completely lost initially and I don't want anyone else to experience the same thing. So I decided to create this blog for those who would like to know more about law.


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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

What You Need to Know If The School Resists Giving Your Child an Individualized Education Plan

by Andrew Martin

If your child has a disability that makes it challenging for him or her to learn in a general classroom, he or she may qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). However, due to budget restrictions, staff limitations or a range of other reasons, schools sometimes fail to provide students with the services they need to cope with their disabilities.

If your child has a disability -- such as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyxlexia or anything else that you believe should qualify him or her for an EIP or other special services, but the school is resistant or negligent in providing those services -- here's what you need to know:

1. Your child doesn't need to be failing to qualify for an IEP.

In some cases, parents approach school officials and ask to have their child tested for a learning disorder, but the school refuses the request, claiming that the student must be failing to qualify for testing.

In fact, this is not true. Students must have a gap between their abilities and their achievement level caused by their disability, but they don't necessarily need to be failing.

For example, a student with dyslexia may read more slowly than his or her peers, and as a result, he or she may not finish his or her tests. However, because he or she is very bright, he or she gets all of the finished questions correct, and as a result, he or she maintains a B- average. With the accommodation of untimed tests (a common IEP accommodation for kids with dyslexia), this student would be an A student. This student should not have to fail to become eligible for services.

If your school refuses to test unless your child is failing, remind them that the text of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act clearly states that children with disabilities must be able to receive necessary services "even though the child has not failed."

2. You receive more services with an IEP than a 504 plan.

Public schools offer two types of plans for children with qualifying disabilities -- IEPs and 504 plans. Under an IEP, your child gets more services, and in particular, he or she gets related services. For example, a child with a speech impairment receives speech therapy for free through the school. A 504 plan, in contrast, does not pay for related services or such individualized help.

If you believe that the school has given your child a 504 plan when he or she really needs an IEP plan, you may want to contest that ruling with the school board or administrators.

For example, if your child has bipolar disorder, it should fall under the emotional disturbance category of approved IEP disabilities, but if the school has denied your claim for an IEP, you may need to contest the ruling and make your point in another way.

3. You can hire private evaluators.

Remember, you don't have to rely on the diagnoses provided by your child's school. Rather, you can hire your own private evaluators. If you hire a private evaluator, have him or her evaluate and diagnose your child's condition.

Then, ask him or her to outline the educational services your child needs to thrive. Finally, ask the evaluator to outline what might happen if the school does not provide the services. For example, if your child has emotional disturbances, failure to receive necessary services could increase the chance that he or she may drop out of school and not receive an education.

Use the information from your private evaluator to contest your child's ruling.

4. Your local department of education has an obligation to you and your family.

Children, regardless of ability, are entitled to an education, and if you believe the school is failing to provide an education for your child or if you believe that the school is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  or any other laws, it may be time to contact a disability lawyer, such as Horn & Kelley, PC Attorneys at Law, to learn about your child's rights and your options.