For students with disabilities, the traditional classroom setting doesn’t always work. To address this reality, the federal government established the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which ensures that disabled students have access to special educational programs tailored to their needs. Students in Florida, who qualify as a child with disabilities, after review by the school or school district, under IDEA, are entitled to have an Individualized Education Program completed. The IEP is then reviewed, and followed by the school.
To qualify for special education services, a student must have a disability that presents unreasonable challenges at school. To avoid
situations where too many children in need of special education are disqualified, the law provides a broad definition of disability. Though not an exhaustive list, children with disabilities such as autism, ADHD, emotional and cognitive disorders, hearing and speech impairments, and learning disabilities are eligible for special education services.
An IEP for a child with disabilities is mandated by Federal and Florida law to be put in place in every school district in the State of Florida. The overall purpose of the IEP is to meet the Special Needs of the child with disabilities.
Unfortunately, many schools and school districts fail to implement the IEP, fail to follow the IEP, or fail to address or provide for certain educational needs of the child within the IEP. Under any of these circumstances, it is helpful to have a Florida Special Education lawyer to represent the interests of your child before the school and school board. Sometimes, the attorney files an Administrative Action in a Due Process Hearing. In other instances, the issues are worked out more informally.
In a Due Process Hearing, you and the school district present written evidence about the disputed issue and have witnesses testify before a hearing officer. If you do not agree with the outcome of the hearing, you can appeal the decision all the way to state or federal court.
Usually, disputed issues revolve around parts of the IEP that that cannot be agree upon. If the school district has violated a legal rule, such as failing to hold an IEP meeting, conduct an evaluation, meet a time limit or implement the
IEP, you must file a complaint. IEP due process disputes are usually centered around disagreements over the following:
- A Child’s Evaluation
- A Child’s Eligibility
- A Child’s Placement
- The Methodology Used to Assess a Child
- Related Services like Aides and Specialists
- Changes to a Child’s IEP program
- Suspension or Expulsion of a Child
Filing a request for a hearing should be a last resort. Working in collaboration with your school district is always the best option. You can consult a Special Education attorney to advise you of your best course of action, for you and your child.