Halt Action Group Blog Special Education – How to Get Help For Kids With Disabilities

Special Education – How to Get Help For Kids With Disabilities

In the US, kids who have physical, cognitive, behavioral or emotional disabilities are eligible for special education. The sooner they can get help, the better they will do in school. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990—better known as IDEA—public schools are required to provide students with disabilities an education tailored to their needs. That’s not always easy.

School systems are required by law to do a process called “child find” to identify kids who may need special ed services. A teacher or parent can make a referral at any time of the year, and kids can be referred for evaluation even before they start school. Federal law says that kids must be put in a special education class if they’re found to have a disability that affects their learning. They can be placed in a self-contained classroom with a credentialed special education teacher, or in a resource (RSP) class that meets only certain times and days a week.

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The law requires that kids be reevaluated every three years to see if they still qualify for special education. But many parents say they have difficulty getting their children reevaluated, and the process often takes too long.

A recent lawsuit filed by the advocacy group Advocates for Children with law firm Milbank against the NYC Department of Education revealed that the department is frequently missing its deadlines to complete special education evaluations and IEP meetings. This is making the system burdensome for parents and harming kids, said the litigation director at Advocates.

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