The Legal Rights of Students with Disability

There are few laws that have been passed in U. S. State Congress preferably for disabled people.  According to American Academy of Pediatrics and National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (2000), they identified two (2) main laws that protect and grant the rights for disabled individuals; they are as follows: (1) Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA), and (2) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Basically, both of these laws share the same objective: give educational benefits in maximum level according to child’s status. There were some differences or unique features for each law.  Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act states the civil rights, whereas IDEA provides a special education law for disabled individuals.  Among the civil rights under the Section 504, this law protects the individual from discrimination and biased decision due to their impairment to any agencies who receive funds from the government, i.e. public schools, government offices, public hospital, etc. This law, Section 504,  also is indicated to individuals with mild disabilities or light impairments with no attention needs for special education.  Furthermore its plan is easier, uncomplicated and simple, yet faster in terms of their support needs and benefits.  On the other hand, IDEA provides broad and extensive evaluation for the needs of the individual as well as it sets specific and short term objectives. Additionally more services and benefits can be enjoyed by the eligible individuals in this law.  Hence, it somewhat clearly identifies and monitors the progress of these students.  As the discussion progresses, IDEA is further explain to this research below.

The U. S. Congress Law: Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) formerly known as the Education of the Handicapped Act (Public Law 94-142) was primarily launched in November of 1975 (Apling, 2003).  According to U. S. Department of Education (2006), this law order states that children (ages 3 to 21 years of age)  with disabilities, residing in United States of America, will be given a special education to the highest level in the same public schools as does the normal children without disabilities.  Furthermore these laws make sure that all children with disabilities will be given a special support, coaching or teaching from the schools to meet distinctive educational needs of these children with disabilities.  Thus, this program trains them for their future employment and self-regulating life.

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            There are main key components identified in the IDEA, and these are as follows: (1) free appropriate public education (FAPE), (2) parent involvement, (3) least restrictive environment (LRE), individualized educational program (IEP), due process and nondiscriminatory testing.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

FAPE is a major composition of the IDEA Law.  This gives a special education for the children who have disabilities.  The term “special” means these identified students are be given a special attention in the class and special methods in introducing the lessons.  The methods to be given to this eligible child must be individualized in order to meet the unique needs of the child.  The term “free appropriate public education” is providing an education to these identified children with disability at public expense and under the public supervision and direction, and without charge.  For the schools who will be offering this kind of education to those children, they must meet the standards and qualities that are set by the state educational agency in order to operate FAPE.  Schools who are currently candidates for the use of FAPE may incorporate an appropriate education for preschool, elementary or even secondary school to educate those children.

Parent Involvement

This means that in all actions that are to be done to his or her child, the presence of the parent or the guardian is important.  As part of the multi-disciplinary team, in assessing the child’s status, the parents may also feel that he or she is part of the child’s progress.  He or she also acts as an advocate to this child, because he or she knows more of the behavior and condition of the child than anyone.  These occurrences may help the team in identifying the right condition of the child.  He or she may also participate in all the works of the team such as setting objectives and planning, using specific tools that are appropriate to the child and carrying such interventions to his or her child.

Least Restrictive Environment

This gives a child with disability an opportunity to interact with the normal child in a public school, but then this school is provided with a specialized teacher who will observe for these identified children in the room.  This will be based on the specific needs and specific learning objectives.   The students are placed appropriately according to the needs of the students in order to meet the unique needs of the students.   The IEP members (including the parents, one regular and one special education teacher, a representative from Local Educational Agency or LEA (a person who interprets the evaluation), and the child if appropriate), identified these students correctly.  It is now for them to position the children appropriately and accordingly.  Its placement may classify into complete inclusion to the regular classroom to totally secluded from it or it can be placed to special private education program.  When the child transfers from one district to the other states, or in between states, a new LEA is now assigned. Her obligation is to study, to know and adopt the previous evaluation of the IEP, and implement new IEP for the disabled child.

Individual Education Program

As Section 614 of IDEA of 1975 states the written report can be reviewed, developed and changed for each child according to the Individual Education Program (IEP).  This simply means providing the child its educational benefits according to his or her situation.  Furthermore this program also outlines how the child receives a benefit from this program or “Free Appropriate Public Education” in a least restrictive environment (Boehner et al, 2005).  Included to these programs is counseling or the speech therapy, if the child is identified during the assessment and evaluation process.  The IEP should not be focused only on the type of the special teaching to the identified children, but also the teacher or the educational provider should also determine or classify the type and the needs of each child under his or her supervision.  Thus, it allows the teacher to determine what he or she is teaching to these children is unique and individualized.  Each of these IEP members or teachers has a responsibility to set goals for each individual student, formulate instructional objectives and use a special education or procedures related to the child’s status. Moreover he or she is obliged to determine the current educational level or performance level of the children under his or her supervision as identified in the Individual Education Plan (American Academy of Pediatrics and National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality, 2000).

Due process

This a process lent to parent to evaluate their daughters and sons with disability, if they are a candidate for the benefits of the law.  In this way also, this process allows the parent to know the progress and the current status of their child to the program.

Nondiscriminatory Testing

Frankly speaking IDEA experiences changes from meeting to meeting; it can be a major or minor addendum, or some objectives may be removed or added.  But the core or main objective of this law is still intact and it is to give educational benefits to those eligible students of U.S.A.  The occurrence of changes would make the law more beneficial to the identified clients.  Public Law 99-457 or Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments (1986) also known as the PL 92-142 states that all children (3 to 5 years of age) receive “Free and Appropriate Public Education” or FAPE. Section 619 is a program that is designed specifically for infants, child and its families, provided with unique service plan for them (Cutler, Barbara Coyne, 1993).  Under this reauthorization, it expands the law benefits making the rights and privileges and as well as the protection more beneficial to these identified child ages 5 – 21 with disabilities for more than 3-4 years and its family.  Under this law also is the launching of seeing an early intervention to the infants and toddlers with disabilities. The next major changes to this law is the reauthorization of Public Law 101-476 which states the expansion of the special education research and training programs to the individuals with disability.  Hence this reauthorization would increase the opportunities for the marginal individual. It also increases its services that would help the eligible individual to submit themselves from exceptional education and make themselves more productive and independent.  Aside from the changes above, the reauthorization also includes the special services in IDEA for those children who have Autism Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury (Aleman, Steven R., 1991).  Under the reauthorization of Public Law 105-17 of 1997, IDEA set in four elements under this law and includes the following:  (1) General Provisions, (2) Educational Support for all Disabled Children, (3) Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, and (4) National Activities to Improve the Education of Children with Disabilities (support programs). This preserves the foremost provisions of former national laws in U.S. including the assurance of FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE) (Knoblauch, Bernadette, 1998).  Lastly, on December 2004, reauthorization and revision of IDEA had been signed by U. S. President George W. Bush.  The basic entity of IDEA is still intact on the new law hence a highly qualified educational provider, its evaluation paperwork, its lawsuit and other issues had been addressed.  As these changes occurs to IDEA, this makes the children more beneficial in achieving higher educational learning through the use of extensive and exclusive procedures and instructional tools given by the highly qualified teachers or providers.  “No Child Left behind” created by U. S. President Bush, with the new IDEA, are those who are identified as disabled, will now learn and develop their skills to make them productive and independent with its new tools procedures and curricula for their special education.

               Given in early intervention, it gives information about the developmental needs of the child (including the physical, cognitive, communication, social, emotional and adaptive development).  After the child has been assessed, his teachers and other educational staff are now prepared for them to be introduced to a suitable method and instructions to the identified objective. Moreover, the child is provided FAPE as well as it provides educational and behavioral services, evaluation and supports.  These services included in the early intervention includes: family training (counseling), home visits, speech and language services, and medical services intentionally for diagnostic test and evaluation only.  Before the educator facility proceeds to these services, he or she must obtain a written consent and explained fully the rationale behind the programs.  If the parent fails to respond to the consent, the educator or the LEA must pursue for the initial intervention.  But when a parent refuses this intervention, the team shall not provide such special education and its related services.  Parents are always to be a member of multidisciplinary team, in this way the parents are informed about the condition of the child.  The educator always monitors the child’s progress as stated in Individual Education Program (IEP).  These records are useful in determining the child’s status and how the child responds to the interventions given.  If the child commits behavioral attitudes, a disciplinary action is awarded against the child.  All the statements, progress, and behavioral attitudes are shown in IEP. Criterion-Referenced Test is a test that is intentionally for a person to evaluate how well this person can learn or how well the person incorporates such knowledge and skills that are taught by his or her mentor.  In this test it is possible for a person to pass this test if he knows the information behind test or questions.  It also determines whether or not a child meets certain criteria.  On the other hand, Norm-Referenced Test it is a test made to compare the students work and the teachers work.  In this way the teacher can now see the changes in the academic level of the students or it will also observed if the student progresses or regresses from his original status. Pre-referral intervention is made by the teachers who know that these children need special attentions to the class.

                These are the steps in referring a child to IDEA.  The very first step in referral process is first identifying the child with disability who needs attention.  After identifying the child, the parents and teachers may asked for an initial evaluation for the child.  Before the child undergo on the mani proper assessment and evaluation, these identified child must first under to to a pre-referral intervention.  This procedure will determine if the child is still needs to evaluate further and an assessment now is introduced to the child.  The child may refer under IDEA to request an assessment and evaluation to determine if the child is eligible for the special education (FAPE) and related services.  If a child is candidate for this law, the child must undergo an evaluation and identification set by the multidisciplinary team, which includes the parent.  Under this assessment, the child is introduced to two sets of test to determine what kind of environment is beneficial to the child.  And also this test provides information for these educators to know the child’s educational process.  These identified two tests are mainly the Standardized tests and Criterion referenced test.  Standardized test is measuring what the child has already learned or know about.  On the other hand, Criterion test used to measure the skills, or task that the child is able to complete.  According to Peter E. Leone et. al (2003), Children who are qualified or a candidate for IDEA program includes specifically children with disabilities or impairments.  Under Section 602 of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975, a child is termed as disabled when he or she possess the following characteristics: (a) with mental retardation, (b) hearing impairments, (c) speech or language impairments, (d) visual impairments, (e) serious emotional disturbance, (f) orthopedic impairments, (g) autism, (h) traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments, or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD).  To enjoy this program, the child must possess to have: (1) one or more identified disabilities and (2) its disability badly influence his or her education (Leone et al., 2003).  After the child is done to the evaluation process, the parent of the child tohether with the multidisciplinary team, they will now determine if the child is eligible to the law. An IEP is now acted in a written form.  The participating schools and staff must contact the parents of the child and make an proper arrangement and set meeting.  The IEP, that is formulate by the staff, must be approved by the parents before this will put in action or before this incorporate to the identified child.  Before the public school authorities proceeds to these steps, they must inform the guardians or the parents of the child first that a certain assessment and tools are to be introduced to their daughters and sons with disabilities.  The assessment should take at least 60 days and be reassessed once every three years (Leone et al. 2003).  The IEP is reviewed annually and another investigation is done at least every three years, to determine the child if he or she is still eligible to the program.  If so happen, the child progress after a year, it doesn’t mean that the child is not any more evaluated.  The child must also undergo reevaluations to determine if the child is needed to re-administer to the program.  Parental consent is an important matter before an intervention will be done to his or her child.  After the consent has been given, the multi-disciplinary team evaluates and addresses the child’s difficulties, and what can be developed and what is his potential to learning in assessment plan.  The child is now to be given a comprehensive evaluation initiated by the multidisciplinary team of the school professional.  Following the evaluation, an IEP meeting is now held.  Included in this meeting is the child who is the center of the discussion; they will now identify and classify the child accordingly to the programs suited for his or her condition.  Furthermore they will talk about the plans, the rights, benefits and privileges of this child to the program.  After this meeting, they will decide if the child meets the eligibility criteria for special education.  If the child meets the criteria, a written plan (IEP) is established, and once the parent signs the consent, the plan is effective.  The IEP shows the performance of the child in response to the intervention, and also it indicates the specific plans and objectives, and instructional measures that can be used during the sessions.  With this the parent and the IEP team may monitor the student’s progress.

This law is very beneficial to children with disability.  As quote by the U. S. President, “No Child Left Alone” signifies that children with disabilities will gain the same right to learn, to and live independently as a normal student does.


Aleman, Steven R. (1991), education of the handicapped Act Amendments of 1990, P.L. 101 476:  A Summary. CRS Report fro Congress, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA, Congressional Research Services

American Academy of Pediatrics and National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality, 2000

Apling, R. N., & Jones, N. L, (2003). Individual with disabilities education Act (IDEA): Analysis of change made by P.L. 108-446. CRS report for congress.

Boehner, J., & Castle, M (2005) Guide To “Frequently Asked Questions” Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Committee on Education and the Workforce,

Cutler, & Coyne B (1993). You, Your Child, and “Special” Education: A Guide to Making the System Work. New Autism Consultants: Arlington, Massachusetts

Knoblauch, Bernadette, (1998). An Overview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (P.L. 105-17). Eric Publication

Leone, P.E., Meisel, S. M., & Drakeford, W. (2003). Special Education Programs for Youth with Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections, Journal of juvenile Court, Community and Alternative School Administrators of California Volume 16

U.S. Department of Education. (2006), Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, May 5, 2008



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