Special Education Law Questions

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (or IDEA) is the federal law that guarantees a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities. It ensures that the provided special education and related services are designed to meet the unique needs of the individual child, preparing them for further education, employment, and independent living. The law aims to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents and to assist local and federal governments in providing for the education of all children with disabilities. (20 U.S. Code § 1400(d))

Yes. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (or IDEA) guarantees free special education services to all children with disabilities.

No, you can fight the school district by yourself, but a Texas special education lawyer can make a big difference. You may want to work with a lawyer because of the complex nature of special education law and the often emotionally charged nature of the process.

Under the IDEA, a child with a disability means a child having:

  • an intellectual disability,
  • a hearing impairment, including deafness,
  • a speech or language impairment,
  • a visual impairment, including blindness,
  • a serious emotional disturbance,
  • an orthopedic impairment,
  • autism,
  • traumatic brain injury,
  • an other health impairment,
  • a specific learning disability, including a perceptual disability, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia,
  • deaf-blindness,
  • or multiple disabilities,

And that child needs special education and related services because of that disability.

See 20 U.S. Code § 1400(3) and (30) C.F.R. § 300.8

Generally speaking, an “individualized education program” or “IEP” is a written statement for a child with a disability that includes the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, a statement of measurable annual goals and how those goals will be measured, the special education and related services to be provided to the child, an assessment plan and, depending on the child’s age, a transition plan.

Parents who disagree with a school district’s evaluation have the right to seek an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense. If a parent requests an IEE at public expense, the school district must, without unnecessary delay, either: (i) file a due process complaint to request a due process hearing under 34 CFR §300.507 to show that its evaluation is appropriate; or (ii) ensure that an IEE is provided at public expense, unless the school district demonstrates in a hearing that the evaluation obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria. (34 CFR §§300.507-300.513)

Due process mediation brings together the school district and parents in effort to resolve a special education dispute. The mediation process is confidential and facilitated by a qualified and impartial mediator. Mediation may not be used to deny or delay a parent’s right to a hearing on the parent’s due process complaint.