Indianapolis Education Law Attorneys
The area of Education Law covers a vast array of issues that may impact your child during the course of their education, including but not limited to locating and evaluating children with special needs; appropriateness of the educational evaluation, level of services provided, and classroom placement (LRE); Individualized Education Plan (IEP) disputes, Functional Behavioral Analysis (FBA) and Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) disputes, wrongful suspensions or expulsions, modifications to children’s education record, searches of students, the separation of church and state, bullying, affirmative action, sexual harassment and the abuse of students.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The nation and specifically Indiana’s special education laws are found under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. Schools that receive federal funding are charged with providing free and appropriate education (FAPE) for all children, regardless of ability. IDEA guides how this state defines children with a disability and who is eligible for special needs services through the school.
While IDEA does require certain eligibility requirements be met in order for a child to receive special education services, schools that receive federal funding are required to identify children with disabilities, and to create an educational plan the considers the child’s unique needs in a way that is reasonably calculated to confer a meaningful education benefit regardless of school staffing limitations or budget issues. The education plan should include a current assessment of the child’s developmental and educational level along with goals for future learning. Parents should be included in the process of developing the education plan.
Children with autism, developmental delays, speech impairments, emotional disturbances, brain injuries, hearing impairments and other special needs may qualify under IDEA. Children who do not qualify under IDEA may qualify for services under a 504 (Other Health Impairment) plan.
Some common examples of violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act include:
- Failure to find child eligible for services despite evidence that the child was struggling academically and/or behaviorally.
- Failure to develop an appropriate IEP based on the child’s individual needs.
- Failure to implement the IEP as written.
- Failure to involve the parents to meaningfully participate in the IEP development process.
- Failure of proper personnel to be present during the case conference committee meetings.
- Failure to give notice of rights.
- Failure of the school to prevent punishment of the child for actions or inactions that are manifestations of the child’s disability (caused by the child’s disability).
- Failure to train staff and aides in the child’s areas of disability.
- Failure to train parents in the child’s areas of disability.
- Failure to maintain proper records.
- Predetermining placement and serves before the case conference committee meeting.
- Failure to conduct necessary evaluations of the child.
- Failure to provide education and services to the child, resulting in regression of skills during the summer vacation that cannot be recouped quickly.
- Failure to convene a case conference committee meeting, or to do so during the appropriate timeline.
- Failure to provide records within 45 days when requested by parents.
- Failure to allow the special needs child to participate in extracurricular activities to the same extent as his non-disabled peers when the child could participate with accommodations provided by the school.
This is not an exhaustive list of the types of IDEA violations that could occur.
We Can Help
The bottom line is that federally funded schools are required to comply with federal and state protections afforded to children with special needs.
Too often, parents do not know what their children’s rights are in terms of education, wrongful discipline or expulsions, or injuries that occur to a child while in school. Parents frequently feel intimidated by school personnel or trust that the school is acting in compliance with state and federal laws. However, this lack of knowledge or resistance to take action on behalf of a child by parents can have a serious impact on a child’s educational progress.
Your child’s rights in school deserve to be protected. We are dedicated to assisting parents in advocating for their children’s education. In some situations parents may be able to recover attorney fees and reimbursement of other expenses related to the case. If you have questions about your child’s rights in school, contact us. The attorneys at Cohen & Malad have experience handling disputes related to education law. We can provide you with a free case evaluation.