Parents of special needs students face many unique and difficult challenges. Unfortunately, this is no different when working to ensure their child receives a fair and adequate public education, as required by law.
Our special education attorneys in New York realize this fundamental right is often breached, as evidenced by the fact that the U.S. Department of Education several years ago gave New York one of the lowest ratings for special education services. School districts point to looming budget cuts and lack of qualified teachers. However, parents of special education students recognize this has become an excuse for districts to fail to meet their child’s educational needs.
Even if parents don’t have solid proof, a special education advocate can help sort through whether your child has an adequate Individual Education Plan (IEP), whether the school placement is appropriate and whether the district has been proactive in securing the necessary level of after-school tutoring and assistive technology that can help students with special needs.
The law grants parents a number of rights when they endeavor to secure the best special education for their child. Just as an example, parents are entitled to receive a procedural safeguard notice. This means that if your child has been referred for special education – or if you request an evaluation – the state Department of Education needs to provide you with procedural safeguards so you know exactly what to do to contest the decided outcome.
The school district is also required to send you prior written notice within a reasonable amount of time whenever the district sees fit to make changes to your child’s IEP. Same goes if there are alterations in the child’s school placement, evaluation or classification. Anytime you disagree with these findings or if you feel your child’s rights have been violated, you have the right to file for an impartial hearing on the matter. The school is required to keep the child in his or her current placement or under the previous plan until such time this hearing is completed.
If the outcome of that hearing is a finding the district did not provide adequate services to the child, the school may be required to correct the violation, provide the requested service or, in some cases, pay reimbursement. Other remedies include requirements that the school district cover alternative eduction, assistive technology, therapy and career training.
These complaints are typically resolved within two to three months.
It’s worth noting that such claims may be time-barred if they are older than two years. That is, if you disagree with your child’s placement or IEP alteration, you have two years in which to file a complaint. However, we generally urge parents to seek assistance much sooner, first for the preservation of the claim, but most importantly for the well-being of the child. The sooner the issue is resolved, the sooner the child is back on the path to a solid education.
While it’s unfathomable to some people that discrimination against those with special needs still exists in today’s world – especially within a school district – these cases are unfortunately quite common.
Some examples of complaints include a young teen with autism who is unfairly suspended after questioning why the IEP had suddenly changed from one school year to the next. Other cases involve special needs children who don’t receive adequate and safe transportation consideration. In other instances, we have seen examples of physical or verbal abuse by school employees directed at children with disabilities.
These kinds of actions not only hinder a student’s ability to learn in a safe environment, they run contrary to the law. Your child deserves to have an education that prepares him or her for a bright future. We can help.
The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment litigation representation in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or send us an e-mail.
Why the Gap? Special Education and New York City Charter Schools, September 2013, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Reinventing Public Education
More Blog Entries:
New York Bullying Lawsuit Aims to Effect Change in Education System, Sept. 25, 2013, New York City Special Education Lawyer Blog