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Special Education Law

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you know that navigating the world of special education can be difficult. There are so many acronyms (IEP, 504 Plan, ESA) and laws (IDEA, ADA, Section 504) to keep track of. It can be hard to know where to start. That’s where our legal firm comes in. We specialize in special education law. Lacey Lyons can help you understand your rights as a parent and advocate for your child. Contact us today.

The most important Florida and federal special education laws:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Legislation that provides free education to all students with disabilities.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): Legislation created to safeguard student education records and keep them private. This legislation also gives students the right to inspect their own records.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Protects disabled individuals from facing discrimination in all areas of life, including schools, jobs, and other public places.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: A disability-rights bill that ensures disabled individuals enjoy the same rights as non-disabled people. A person’s disability cannot justify discrimination in any program that receives federal money.

Special education law principles

Appropriate evaluation

One of the most important elements in determining a student’s degree of need is an individual evaluation. During this time, a group of instructors and administrators will observe and evaluate a kid’s skills, as well as determine whether any services are required (if any). Qualified experts, such as psychologists or speech-language pathologists, may sometimes perform these evaluations.

The two main ways children are marked as potentially needing special education and supplementary services come from the Child Find system (which every state has) or by referral from a parent or school employee.

Child Find is a process that states are required to do in order to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities who require special education and related services. This is done through Child Find activities. Parents can be asked for permission to evaluate their child if a Child Find investigator suspects that the student might have a disability and requires special education. Parents may also contact the Child Find office to have their child evaluated.

Referral or request for evaluation. A school employee may request that a student be assessed to determine if he or she has a disability. Parents may also contact their child’s teacher or another school professional to request an evaluation.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

All children in Florida are entitled to free education services from their local public school district if they have a disability.

Parent and student participation
Parents know their children best, so we encourage them to help us develop ESE services. We also ask for students’ input starting at age 14 (or earlier if they’re mature enough).

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Every reasonable effort must be made to ensure that exceptional pupils receive the same education as those who are not disabled. Though certain circumstances may call for a more secluded environment, schools and educators should aim to use the least restrictive measures feasible. This might necessitate the use of an assistant and other assistance devices.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, are comprehensive sets of instructions that cover all ESE services for special needs kids. These plans should include an explanation of the child’s requirements, detailed service instructions, and a list of objectives to track his or her development.

Procedural Safeguards

The laws above have several checkpoints to make sure everything is done correctly. If at any time parents believe something isn’t right, they can speak up.

Eligibility for Exceptional Student Education (ESE)

If you think your child might qualify for these types of services, or if you’re just curious about what Florida’s laws are, here is what you should know about the requirements to be considered eligible for ESE. Children in Florida who have any of the following disabilities or conditions are eligible to receive ESE services:

-Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
-Deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH)
-Speech impairment (SI)
-Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
-Orthopedic Impairment (OI)

Exceptional Student Education Delivery

The implementation process is the same for all children receiving ESE services. This is designed to guarantee that a student’s requirements are being met efficiently.

First, as mentioned in principle #1, the school system will evaluate to see if a child is eligible for ESE services. If they are eligible, administrators and teachers will start working on their first IEP. Parents must agree to let the school provide these services at this time.

ESE services are to be constantly reassessed and new plans put into place as children age since their needs frequently change. There must be annual reviews during which changes can occur to IEPs.

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