Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities. —IDEA 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) every child is entitled to a “free appropriate public education”. The IDEA is a law that ensures that children with disabilities get the services they require in school. According to the IDEA, a child with a disability refers to a child “(i) with mental retardation, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance (‘emotional disturbance’), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and (ii) who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services.” I(A)(3)(A)(i)(ii).
Importantly, the IDEA stresses placing children with disabilities in the “least restrictive environment.” This means that to “the maximum extent appropriate”, children with disabilities should be taught with other children who do not have disabilities. According to the law, it is only appropriate to put a child with disabilities in special classes or to remove them from the regular educational environment when the severity of a child’s disability is such that being in a regular class would prevent the child from receiving a satisfactory education. Conversely, there are many times where a student benefits from being in an educationally restrictive environment.
If your child is exhibiting signs that his/her school setting and/or services are inappropriate, Gina DeCrescenzo, P.C. is here to help. Some signs that your child’s educational plan may need to change:
- Little, inconsistent, or no progress academically, socially, emotionally, behaviorally, and/or physically
- Goals and objectives on IEP not met
- School phobia or refusal to attend school
- Changes in mood and/or behavior
- Grades slipping or academic skills remaining stagnant
- Frequent disciplinary problems
- Sub-par and/or inconsistent standardized testing scores
- No friends or loss of friends
- Homework refusal