It can be frightening for any parent if their child is arrested or charged with a criminal offense. The juvenile justice system is complex and challenging to navigate, with cases developing based on individual circumstances and many variables including the type of offense, the child’s behavior, and their willful conduct. If your child with special needs faces criminal accusation, it is important for you to contact an experienced education rights attorney as soon as possible to ensure their rights are protected throughout all stages of the case.
Not only are criminal charges scary, but there are many repercussions that follow legal trouble. Students may face suspension, expulsion, as well as academic consequences, depending on the allegations brought against them, their history of behavior, and the specifics of the school’s Code of Conduct. Having an understanding education rights attorney by your side throughout the process will provide you and your child with the foundation for future success.
Should your child be held in a detention facility it is important to be an advocate for their educational needs.
What is Juvenile Delinquency?
Cases of juvenile delinquency involve criminal charges brought against a person under the age of 18 who has engaged in unlawful conduct. The goal of the juvenile court justice system is to provide treatment and rehabilitation to offenders rather than punish them.
Some common juvenile delinquency charges include:
- Property crimes
- Criminal mischief
- Domestic violence
- Drug-related offenses
Special Education in Juvenile Justice Programs
According to data from the Prison Policy Initiative over 43,000 children are incarcerated on any given day within the US justice system. A number of studies conducted in the last decade have found that there is a high rate of special education needs among adjudicated children. Research has identified that a disproportionate number of students in judicial education programs qualify for special education services when compared to children in a typical school population. A study by The Council for Exceptional Children found that on average 33% of children in juvenile justice programs are receiving special education services with a significant number being identified as having emotional or behavioral disorders and learning disabilities.
Children with disabilities and special needs are at an increased risk for delinquency and involvement in the justice system. All IDEA protections apply to students with disabilities in detention facilities. Students with disabilities charged with convictions still have rights under Section 504 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act. All too often, children with special needs do not receive the services they are entitled to by law.
As in any educational program in the US, schools within the court system are required to provide students with any and all required services, IEP meetings, and assessments. In California, students with disabilities in a detention center for longer than 20 school days must also be provided with a re-entry plan for their course of action upon returning to their traditional school setting.
Connecting with an experienced education rights attorney can help you identify the rights and services your child deserves and hold decision-makers accountable for keeping those rights intact.
The Role of an IEP in the Courtroom
An Individualized Education Plan is a written document that details the special education and related services a student with special needs will receive in the school setting and includes the child’s eligibility, educational performance, related services, accommodations, and goals.
Not only do IEPs serve as a tool in a child’s education, but they can offer insight into why a child exhibits certain behaviors, lacks decision-making skills, or cannot control himself, among many other scenarios. In criminal cases, an attorney who understands the child’s needs can use an IEP to help a judge decipher the child’s disability and differentiate which behaviors conform with a diagnosis and which behaviors do not in order to make an informed decision.
Here’s How We Can Help
Education rights attorney, Jennifer Chang believes in protecting students’ rights under both federal and California state laws. If your child is facing juvenile delinquency charges based on behaviors outlined in their IEP, or if you believe their behaviors indicate a need for assessment, the law offices of Jennifer Chang will fight vigorously on your child’s behalf to ensure they receive the legal services that are entitled to them.