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Know your child’s rights at school

Parents with children who have special needs sometimes have to fight to ensure that school remains a nurturing environment.

There are laws in place that serve to protect your child from being neglected or bullied in school. Knowing these rights is the first step in taking action against those who threaten your child’s success.

A meaningful education

All children have the right to a meaningful education. What makes an education “meaningful” may vary between children.

For example, education goals for those with an intellectual disability may focus more heavily on certain behavior skills. Similarly, children who face challenges presented by ADD or Dyslexia may require a teacher to adjust their techniques to accommodate a different learning style.

Federal law specifically protects each child’s right to be educated in a manner that helps the child improve their skills proportionately to the child’s situation. That means teachers should be helping your child achieve goals that are challenging, attainable and useful.

Safety at school

Because adversity often leads to bullying, children who have a disability can easily become a target. Harassment that denies a child with a disability an equal opportunity to a free appropriate education (FAPE) is against the law.

Specifically, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act provide legal protection against harassment for students with disabilities. Emotional, cyber or physical bullying cannot legally be tolerated and should be appropriately punished.

In addition, federally-funded California schools have standard procedures for bullying prevention that must be implemented.

Progress reports

In addition to making your child’s education meaningful, teachers must also record your child’s progress and communicate with you about it. Testing or monitoring mechanisms should be in place to help parents understand how their child has or has not progressed toward certain goals.

If a teacher has neglected to work with your child or communicating with you about your child’s progress because of his or her disability, it’s time to take action. An attorney with experience in special needs law can help you secure the education your child is entitled to.

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