Every child in the United States is entitled to a quality education. This means that if your child is struggling in a traditional classroom, they are entitled to receive accommodations to meet their educational needs. When your child is not learning in the classroom, if they are constantly needing redirection, an evaluation needs to be conducted. The problem is, the resources available to do evaluations on students can run scarce. Students who are on the margins of success may be pushed along to the next grade, and services provided only for the most needy. If you believe your child needs to be evaluated for special education services and you are being told no, it's time to work with an attorney who can help you get the process started.
The Initial Evaluation
Each student that gets identified as potentially needing an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), starts with an evaluation. This is done by a professional, usually a teacher within the building, who will assess the needs of the student through a series of tests. Even when a student is academically gifted, they may have a number of emotional needs. Students with high levels of anxiety, for example, may need special accommodations in order to complete a test in secluded area, or for a longer period of time. If the evaluation shows that the student has needs that can be addressed, an IEP is developed.
The Individualized Educational Plan
This plan is developed with the teachers, any specialists, and the parents to meet the specific needs of the student. It can address the fact that a student needs a 1:1 in order to be safe in the traditional school setting, and it can also state that the student needs an alternative learning environment due to their special needs. For example, if a student is diagnosed with severe autism, an IEP will address their need to get an education in a school that can handle their behaviors and provide an education tailored to their learning style.
A school must make every effort to meet the goals set in an IEP. If they can't, a referral to a specialized school is often the next step. If your child needs a specialized school and the public school is refusing to make the referral, you may need a special education lawyer to help you move the process along. Your child has the right to an education, and the school system will have to pay to meet their educational needs.
I'll be up front: I have a criminal record. As someone who's spent lots--and lots--of time looking for a job in my life, I've gotten used to being up front with this fact. It's difficult to get hired with this on my record, and frankly, it never gets less scary to have to tell an interviewer about it. But that doesn't mean I'm unemployable. I'm a hard worker who can bring a lot to any company. And I also know what an employer needs to do for me. I know my rights. There's no federal law protecting me from discrimination due to my record, but there are plenty of state laws that make it a little easier for me. If you're looking for a job and you have a criminal record, read through this information. Protect yourself during a job search. Know your rights.