There are laws which stipulate that a child with special needs has the right to a fair and equal education at the nearest neighborhood school. Some school districts fail to provide and follow this law. If you are a parent of a special needs child, you need to become more familiar with what the law provides, and pursue and advocate for your child's rights and needs. Sometimes that means hiring a special education attorney to uphold the law.
What the Law Provides
As your child enters school, he or she is entitled to:
- A fair and equal education with that of his or her peers
- Inclusion into the regular classroom as much as possible
- Special Education supports in all areas of development
- The ability to attend the neighborhood school closest to home
- Free busing and transportation as needed, depending on the child's physical abilities
- An education free from abuse and/or neglect, including assistance with toileting and self-care needs
- An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, which details what your child's challenges are and how the school expects to meet them
If your child's intended school or the school system fails in any way to provide all of the above, you have a legal right to sue.
Choosing to Sue the School System
This is not an easy or inexpensive choice, since the school district is supported by your home state and will have its own lawyers to defend it. Additionally, if the school is willing to provide all of the above at no expense to you and your family, but at a different neighborhood school than the one you expected, the school system can argue that you are refusing to care for your child's education. However, when your special education attorney proves that the school district is inadequately equipped to provide for special needs children, you will have a case to pursue.
What You Can Hope to Gain or Want to Gain
Since the object of your lawsuit is the education of your child at the nearest school in the district, you cannot sue for money. The only time that money comes into play is when your child has clearly been abused or neglected, and then school districts may attempt to settle out of court. If you head into a lawsuit with your school district, be sure to have clearly defined goals for what you hope and want to gain for your child, and that is what your lawyer will pursue.
For more information, contact the Law Office of Mark W Voigt or a similar firm.