Just as schools are responsible for teaching math and writing, they are equally responsible for providing strategies and support for behavioral issues. Schools are there to help each student receive the quality education needed for them to go on to be better citizens, entrepreneurs, community members, and employees. This can only happen when the school district proactively addresses any behavioral barriers preventing students from accessing their optimal learning potential.
Problematic behavioral issues could be a significant reason a student is struggling in and out of school. If the school does not address the behavior and the student is not supported, it could lead to a downward spiral of their well-being and education.
Common examples of behavioral issues include:
- Learning disorders
- Anxiety or depression
- Antisocial behavior
- Self-injurious behavior
- Conduct disorders
It is the school district’s responsibility to react to such maladaptive behaviors by providing the kinds of intervention services the child needs to move beyond these behavioral issues. These support services should also function as a collaboration-based partnership with the families.
What Rights Do Students and Families Have?
The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that all children in the U.S. receive a “free and appropriate public education” provided by their local school district. It requires that children suspected of having delays receive a “timely, comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation.” The evaluation will determine their eligibility for speech and occupational therapy, psychological, vision and audiology services, and other support as needed. All of this should be at no charge to the student’s family. These services could be as little as meeting with the school psychologist once a week to as grand as switching to a specialized school. Learn more about IDEA and school placements for students in this blog post.
In the real world, this results in a “504 plan” or an “Individualized Education Plan (IEP).”
- A 504 Plan protects students from discrimination based on their disability status and provides accommodations. These plans are for students K-12 and college levels.
- An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) provides accommodations and specialized instruction for students in grades K-12.
When Should Someone Seek the Services of a Special Education Attorney?
Schools are required to notify parents or guardians of any plans to evaluate a child or modify a plan. Parents and guardians have the right to attend all planned 504 and IEP meetings and request meetings to discuss potential changes. If there is a disagreement in the course of action proposed by the school district, parents and guardians are entitled to an impartial hearing. This is a common reason why parents seek out a special education attorney.
Other reasons may include:
- The student is not making appropriate progress, but the school district disagrees.
- A parent is experiencing retaliation against their advocacy.
- The school district brings an attorney to meetings.
- A parent wishes to appeal a decision by the school district or file a complaint.
- A settlement is proposed.
Here’s How We Can Help
The Law Offices of Jennifer Chang believe in protecting students’ rights to a free and appropriate education under both federal and state laws. If your child is eligible to receive special education and is not getting the appropriate services, placement, or accommodations, our education rights attorneys will fight vigorously on your family’s behalf. Jennifer Chang has offices in California in Los Angeles, Buena Park and San Jose.