Special Education Law

Overview of Special Education Law in Florida

What is IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)?

What is an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)?

Who is eligible under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)?  What are the requirements for my child / student?

Implementation and Enforcement of the Individualized Education Plan in Florida - The Role of the Special Education Lawyer

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The educational needs of children in public school in North Florida schools (including Duval County, Clay County, St. Johns County, Baker County, Nassau County, Bradford County, Flagler County, and Putnam County) are vital.   Every child especially those with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, Autism, Downs Syndrome, and other Special Needs is entitled to have his or her educational needs met.  Local schools and school boards cannot and should not just "throw up their arms" and claim that there is nothing more than can be done.   Weak excuses and lackluster efforts by teachers, administrators, and school boards may very well be violations of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).   If you believe that the rights of your child have been violated or you need assistance from an attorney who will advocate for the rights of your child in need of an education directed to your child's needs, contact Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. for a consultation and representation.   At Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., we are on your side at your side. 

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Overview: Special Education Law in Florida

Education is vital for all children.  Some children do very well with the overall problem and do not need any individualized attention to their educational needs.   The majority of the children do not have special needs that require a teacher, administrator, or school board to provide more detailed attention and planning.   The federal government and the State of Florida recognize the rights and needs of children with disabilities and Special Needs.

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What is IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)?

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) is a law that was passed to assist children and families in enforcing the rights of children with disabilities and Special Needs.   IDEA gives parents, caregivers, and guardians of children with disabilities and Special Needs the right to:

  • have assessments and testing completed in order to determine the eligibility and educational needs of the disabled / Special Needs student;

  • review and inspect the school records of the child;

  • attend the IEP (Individual Education Program) Meeting and participate in the development of a written IEP (Individual Education Plan) with representatives from the local school district / school board; and

resolve disputes and with the school district / school board through an administrative hearing (Due Process Hearing).

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What is an IEP (Individualized Education Program?

Once a child is deemed to meet the requirements of inclusion within the definition of "child with disabilities", the school must develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that meets the educational needs unique to the "child with disabilities".   Parents and caregivers with a child qualified under IDEA is entitled to the following:

an initial and timely meeting where the school / school district / school board determines if the child is eligible or qualifies for special education

yearly meetings between the parents / caregivers and the school to develop the specific educational plan for the child / student;

Written description of the IEP for the child. 

Federal law mandates certain information be placed in an IEP including the following

  • Current performance of the child

  • Annual goals

  • Special Education and Related Services

  • Participation with non-disabled children

  • Participation in state and district wide testing

  • Specified dates and places for various details and aspects of the program

  • Necessary transition services at certain ages

  • Age of majority issues; and

  • Measure the progress of the student within the IEP.
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Who is eligible under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)?  What are the requirements for my child / student?

Federal law (20 U.S.C. Section 1412 (a) (3)) requires each school district / school board to identify, locate and evaluate children with disabilities and Special Needs.  This should be done every school year.   Upon identifying these students / children, the district should provide specific educational and resource programs to address the disabilities and Special Needs of the children. 

Who is considered a "child with disabilities" under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)?  Under IDEA, the one or more of the following apply:

  • Autism
  • Hearing impairment (which includes deaf children)
  • Visual Impairment (which includes blind children)
  • Mental Retardation
  • Serious emotional disturbances
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Orthopedic and related physical impairment
  • Special learning disability
  • Other health impairment

If a child has one or more of the aforementioned conditions, the child may qualify under IDEA but does not automatically qualify.  There must be evidence that the disability has or will adversely affect the child's educational performance in the school system. 

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Implementation and Enforcement of the Individualized Education Plan in Florida - The Role of the Special Education Lawyer.

If a child / student in Florida after review by the school / school district qualifies as a "child with disabilities" under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), then that child / student is entitled to have an IEP (Individualized Education Program) completed, reviewed, and followed by the school. IEP for a "child with disabilities" is mandated by Federal and Florida law to be put in place in every school district in the State of Florida. The United States Department of Education provides a good summary of the process and requirements of putting in place and complying with the IEP for a "child with disabilities" - Guide to the Individualized Education Program. It is quite a detailed process. The overall purpose of the IEP is to meet the Special Needs of the "child with disabilities". Unfortunately, many schools and school districts fail to implement the IEP, fail to follow the IEP, and / or fail to put address or provide for certain educational needs of the child within the IEP. Under any of these circumstances, it is helpful to have a Florida Special Education lawyer / attorney represent the interests of your child before the school and school board. Sometimes, the attorney files an Administrative Action in a Due Process Hearing. In other instances, the issues are worked out more informally.

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You can read more articles about Special Education Laws, Autism, Special Needs, Education / School Safety, and other issues at www.floridachildinjurylawyerblog.com

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