If your child has a learning disability and English is not their first language, going to school can seem like a significant challenge. However, you and your child still have rights, and you can ensure your child receives an education that meets their specific needs.
Special education rights remain the same in every language
Regardless of the language you speak at home, your child can still obtain special education services if necessary.
California and federal education laws both specifically address students’ rights and schools’ responsibilities in the cases of English learners. Schools must respect the students’ rights, but adapt the special education procedures to accommodate English learners at any level, including:
- During the evaluation process
- While creating the independent education program (IEP)
The most important thing to understand is that, according to federal law, schools must meet both the student’s disability-related and English-learning needs in these cases. That means your child’s IEP will address their special education needs, but they will also receive services or classes to increase their proficiency in English.
How will schools accommodate your family?
Your children may be receiving services to learn English, and obtaining accommodations for their learning disability. You may be learning English as well. How can you make sure your child is receiving the services they need?
There is one critical aspect of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that you should remember. As a parent, you have the right to obtain services and materials in your native language. This includes:
- Translation services at IEP meetings
- Translation services at any mediation meetings or hearings
- A copy of the IEP and other documents in your native language
It is important to remember this right. That way, you can better understand your children’s rights and help to protect them.