Special Education & Civil Rights

At first glance, it may not appear as if special education law issues fall under the traditional civil rights laws umbrella that most people are familiar with. But in taking a more in-depth look at our civil rights laws and how they impact the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it becomes easy to understand why the rights of students with disabilities are protected as part of our civil rights laws. Most people have a basic understanding that civil rights laws are in effect to protect against discrimination. The common core factor that brings the IDEA within the purview of our civil rights laws is the IDEA’s foundational protection against any discrimination aimed at disabled children and their right to receive an education. As San Diego civil rights attorneys, we are dedicated to using the protections granted by the IDEA to protect the civil rights of all children with disabilities.

Children in the United States are guaranteed a free and appropriate public education. Whether a child is disabled does not factor into their right to be correctly and appropriately educated. The law that protects the right of disabled children to be educated alongside their typical peers is based on preventing decimation against our special needs children within their educational environment. Therefore, our job as San Diego civil rights attorneys is to take the time to review how the special needs children in our community are educated.

The IDEA provides for various protections and accommodations so that children with disabilities can be included with their typical peers, to the greatest extent possible, during their school day. These protections have a disabled child’s equal right to a free and appropriate public education. If we take these words one at a time, we can see how these civil rights are imperative to all children, particularly our disabled children.

Every child is entitled to a free and appropriate education at the expense of the public.

The IDEA provides for various protections and accommodations so that children with disabilities can be included with their typical peers, to the greatest extent possible, during their school day.

Free Education

First, all children are entitled to a Free education. For children with disabilities, this means that parents cannot be charged for any special accommodation or service a child might need in order to fully participate in their education. This applies to services such as speech and language, occupational therapy, educationally related counseling, adaptive physical education, and behavioral services. In addition, a parent cannot be charged for any form of technology that will allow their disabled child to better participate in the classroom; be it for academic purposes or social needs. Finally, for those children who cannot be appropriately educated within their free public-school environment, a parent cannot be charged for a child’s placement in a non-public school setting, or any other special setting deemed necessary, for the child to be appropriately educated.

Appropriate Education

Second, all children are entitled to an appropriate education. This is the component that tends to cause the greatest level of contention when determining if a child’s civil rights are being violated. For example, is it appropriate for the child to be in a general education setting with supports, such as an aide? Or, is it more appropriate for a child to be in a separate educational setting and only participate in the general education setting in a limited manner? Does a child need specific accommodations to fully engage in their education? It is these questions that create the most complex issues and concerns when working as a San Diego civil rights attorney on behalf of special needs children.

Cost of Education

Third, our children are educated at the expense of the Public. Therefore, the education system is open to all children who live in the United States. Except for extenuating circumstances, no child residing in the United States can be denied access to a public education.

Entitled to Education

The last factor in the overall equation is that every child is entitled to an Education. Regardless of the talents or deficits of any child, every child is entitled to be educated. And while the pathway of each child’s education will vary, at the end of the road, all children are entitled to an education that will allow them to participate as a working productive members of society. As a San Diego civil rights attorney, it is our job to ensure that each child we represent has the opportunity, through their education, to become a productive member of our San Diego community.

When one of these areas of the IDEA is violated, a child’s civil rights are at stake.

Advocates for special education students play an important role and are better suited to help parents through the IEP process.

When one of these areas of the IDEA is violated, a child’s civil rights are at stake. As a parent, it can be difficult to make a legal determination that your special needs child’s civil rights are being violated. However, there are certain signs that you can be watchful for that will help you know that your special needs child might not be getting the free and appropriate public education they are entitled to. These signs include:

  • Has your child exhibited a lack of academic progress in school and in conjunction with their IEP goals?
  • Does your child’s behavior appear to be impacting their abilities in the classroom?
  • Do you notice that your child needs more time to complete assignments, or requires frequent prompting to stay on task?
  • Is your child meeting their goals in their related service areas such as speech and language and occupational therapy?
  • Is your child actively engaging and benefiting from the classroom setting they are placed in?

These are just a few of the clues a parent can watch for to determine if their child might not be receiving a free and appropriate public education. Therefore, it is important for parents to be watchful for other indications that your special needs child’s civil rights are in jeopardy of being violated.

As San Diego civil rights attorneys, we welcome the opportunity to speak with you regarding any concerns you may have about your special needs child’s civil right to a free and appropriate public education. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our offices and schedule a free one-hour consultation to discuss your questions about your child’s special education program.