Do you represent special education clients in all counties throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Maryland?
Yes, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Keith L. Howard, PLLC travel through all four states, but is based primarily out of Charlotte, NC.
What are the relevant laws for special education and related services?
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.; 34 CFR PART 300
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
29 U.S.C. § 794
- Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act
20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR PART 99
- NC Education of Children with Disabilities
Article 9 of Chapter 115C
- NC Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities
The school has failed to follow my child’s IEP or 504 Plan, do I need an attorney?
It depends. We recommend you contact an education law attorney that represents families in special education and civil rights matters to review your case. Even the simplest violations may require the expertise of an education attorney.
Can my 3-year-old receive special education services from the local public school system?
Yes, an infant or toddler with a disability can receive special education services even before they begin kindergarten or public school.
My child has a disability, do I automatically qualify for special education?
No. Your child’s disability must fall within one of the categories under the IDEA, the disability must adversely impact your child’s education, and because of the disability, your child needs specially designed instruction. If all three are not met, your child will likely not receive special education services under the IDEA but may qualify for 504 Plan.
What do I need to do if I believe my child needs special education services?
You need to make a written request (email, written letter, etc.) to your school’s principal requesting your child be evaluated for special education. You want to either make a copy of the letter or receive some form of receipt that you submitted the letter requesting your child receive special education.
Do I have to pay for the evaluations that are used to determine if my child can receive special education?
No, you do not have to pay for the initial special education evaluations. The public school system has a responsibility to conduct the initial evaluations.
What are my rights to a free independent evaluation if I disagree with the results of the initial or any subsequent evaluations conducted by the public school system?
You have the right to request an independent evaluation that will be paid by the school system if you disagree with the results of the school’s evaluation. You have this right regardless of how long the evaluation was conducted. You also do not have to use the evaluators the school system recommends. You have the right to choose your own evaluator.
In North Carolina, how long does it take before I find out if my child can receive special education services if I make a written request for special education?
Once you submit the written request for special education, the school system has 90 days to conduct the evaluation, determine your child’s eligibility, and if the child is eligible for services, must determine placement.
What is the criteria for qualifying for special education?
The child must have a disability that falls within one of the disability categories under the IDEA, that disability must adversely impact the child’s education, and as a result of the disability, the child needs specially designed instruction.
What is an IEP?
An IEP is a written document outlining the related services and accommodations a disabled child is entitled to. An IEP is a contract that must be implemented and respected by school officials?
What are the different categories of disabilities that qualify for special education?
What rights do I have if my child has an IEP but is recommended for a long-term suspension or expulsion?
The school system can suspend your child for up to ten school days without holding a manifestation determination review meeting. However, if there is a recommendation for a suspension longer than ten days or if there is a pattern of suspensions that exceed ten days, the child is likely entitled to a manifestation determination review.
What is a manifestation determination review?
A child with an IEP will be entitled to a manifestation determination review (MDR) if he is suspended for more than ten days in a row or there is a pattern of suspensions that exceed ten school days. If a MDR is held, the school must determine if the behavior is caused by or is substantially and directly related to the child’s disability or a result of the school’s failure to implement the child’s IEP.
What is a 504 Plan?
504 Plans are for K–12 public school students with disabilities. Section 504 is a civil rights discrimination law. It prohibits public schools from discriminating against children with disabilities. A child can receive accommodations from a 504 Plan similar to what would receive with an IEP.
What should I do if my child is bullied by school employees or students?
You should write a letter to your school principal informing him/her that your child has been bullied. If there is a complaint form, you need to complete that form with as much information as possible. If your child is being bullied more than one or two times, you should contact a civil rights attorney to determine if you have a case.
What should I do if my child has been physically abused at school?
You should write a letter to your school principal informing him/her that your child has been physically injured. Directly after you write your letter, keep a copy of the letter and contact a civil rights attorney to determine if you may or may not have a case.
If my child has an IEP, do I have the right to attend any specific school?
No, you typically have to follow the same procedures as any other child seeking a transfer from one school to another school.
What are some of the most common special education violations?
- School fails to identify child that is struggling academically and/or behaviorally over an extended period of time.
- School is failing to implement services or accommodations in IEPs.
- Schools do not conduct evaluation and determine eligibility within 90 days after written request for special education from parent.
- Schools place children with disabilities in the most restrictive environment, such as a separate classroom with all disabled children when the child can be educated with non-disabled children in a general education classroom.
- Schools predetermine the IEP without the parent’s input.
- Schools fail to ensure teachers have access to IEPs.
- Students fail to make progress on their IEP goals because of inadequate annual and short-term goals.
- Schools deprived severely disabled children of special education services.
- School fails to provide non-English speaking parents with special education paperwork in their native language.
- Schools fail to provide toilet training for student with disability.
- Student has mental health diagnoses, has received multiple suspensions, and is failing most of his classes but school has never evaluated or provided interventions for the student.
- School is suspending the student with a disability from school by calling his parents to pick him up or sending him to the principal’s office without noting these removals as suspensions.
- Schools are not following the student’s behavior intervention plan.