All preschool and school-age children have the right to free education in a non-restrictive environment. This right extends to disabled students within the age bracket of three to twenty-one years. Various acts have been enacted in the United States to cater to exceptional children including the Education of All Handicapped Children of 1975, which was replaced by the Individuals with Disability in Education Act in 2004.
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All districts must adhere to legally binding documents that provide guidelines for children’s education. This essay discusses the role of the members of the Individualized Education Program team concerning the attainment of the students’ needs and ways to advocate for their rights if the district administration lacks sufficient funds. Besides, the essay will provide the legal recourse that parents can undertake when the district does not obey the stipulated Individualized education plan or fulfil the requirements of disabled children.
How to ensure that the Individualized Education Plan meets the students’ needs
Every public school must have an individualized education program that provides an opportunity for all the educational stakeholders including teachers, students, administrators, and other affiliated service personnel to work in collaboration (Smith, Polloway, Patton, Dowdy, & Doughty, 2015).
The individualized education program aims to improve the educational performance of disabled students. As a team member of the program, one must ensure that the evaluation process for the disabled students involves the deliberation of all parties through engagement meetings. Before the assessment happens, the school districts must inform the parents of the child through a written notice concerning the process (Landmark & Zhang, 2012). The students’ weaknesses and strengths are incorporated during the evaluation to establish the nature of the suitable individualized program for everyone.
A statement that highlights the present level of the child’s performance must be emphasized in detail. An analysis of the results that the students score in-class assignments and tests gives insights to the parents, related service providers, and staff members when determining the eligibility of such learners to receive educational services (Snell & Brown, 2014). The current performance of the child with a disability explains issues that influence his/her capability in the progress of the curriculum.
As a member of the individualized education program team, one has to ensure the inclusion of the child’s annual goals and other short-term instructional targets. The goals aim to achieve the multiple needs of exceptional students. Academic goals seek to help the disabled child to participate fully in the general learning activities. The individualized plan must incorporate realistic and measurable functional skills that the child is anticipated to achieve at the end of the year. For children with multiple disabilities, the program list must deploy benchmarks (Landmark & Zhang, 2012).
The representative of the individualized education program team must ensure the inclusion of specific education services for exceptional children and evaluate their ability to take part in general education programs. Special education services must be provided to such learners (Smith et al., 2015). The supplementary requirements and services are critical for exceptional children. In this regard, frequent modification of the individualized education program to suit the support and professional competencies required to assist such children is mandatory
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The individualized education program ought to highlight the transitional services that will be accorded to a particular exceptional child upon the attainment of sixteen years or after leaving high school. The course that an exceptional child ought to take to attain his or her post-school desires must be outlined in the specific individualized education program (Landmark & Zhang, 2012). Additionally, in meeting the needs of the students, the academic plan must ensure accommodations to allow the children to demonstrate what they have learned in class (Snell & Brown, 2014).
The legal recourse that parents can follow when the districts do not support the individualized education program
The individualized education program must be reviewed periodically. Annual revisions of the program ensure the needs of exceptional students are met continuously (Smith et al., 2015). When any changes are anticipated by the school districts, the parents must be notified in time. Under the new act, a member of the individualized education team should not avoid IEP meetings except if the discussions and amendments of the curriculum fail to focus on their areas of jurisdictions (Stefkovich, 2013). Parents are mandated to sue the IEP team members for failing to attend meetings that demand their presence. Parents can also sue the school districts for being isolated in the process of reviewing the individualized education programs for their children.
Children with exceptional needs must be provided with related services. The services can be either one or multiple depending on the specific requirements of the child with a disability. Related services include transportation, counseling, physical therapy, interpretation, medical, and speech pathology among others (Snell & Brown, 2014). Conflicts arise between the parents and the school districts concerning the responsibilities affiliated with the related services.
Where the school personnel denies disabled students the privilege of related services such as clean intermittent catheterization, parents can seek legal redress in a court of law. The school districts are mandated to undertake medical procedures alongside other services while providing special education (Stefkovich, 2013). However, the act does not include complicated medical procedures that are beyond the competencies of the school personnel.
Disabled students must be included in the education process. The school districts are obligated to express the required standards of care to students with special needs (Landmark & Zhang, 2012). Systematic training and effective policies should be enacted to enhance the interaction between the teachers and such learners. The teachers’ failure to uphold the inclusion of students with special needs may attract lawsuits from parents. The school districts can be liable for a both academic and physical injury that results from the lack of fidelity among the teachers when conducting their professional duties (Colker & Milani, 2015). Parents can sue the school districts that fail to meet academic needs and other associated services comprising colostomy, seizure monitoring, and sanctioning if students with exceptional needs attend regular classrooms.
Some of the school districts deny disabled students continuous schooling services. Most students with multiple disabilities are more susceptible to regression as compared to their able-bodied peers (Stefkovich, 2013). The courts have granted yearlong schooling for disabled students. Parents have the right to sue the school districts that deny summer programs to students with special needs. Furthermore, parents can seek legal redress when the school districts deny disabled students residential placement. The Individuals with Disability Education Act provides that the school district is responsible for providing residential facilities when they are deemed necessary in the dispensation of special education (Snell & Brown, 2014). The school districts also bear the financial obligations related to residential placement.
Ways to advocate for the students’ rights when the district administration lacks sufficient funds
When the school district does not have sufficient funds to meet the students’ expenditures, various financial sources can be sought. The secretary of education has the mandate that governs the approval, application, allocation, and expenditure of money for meeting the expenses of the special education program (Landmark & Zhang, 2012). The funds aim at providing extra state financial support to cater for the practical implementation of the Individualized Education Program.
In the quest to assist the district administration to provide for the increasing expenses of disabled students, the contingency fund provides alternative funding for such cases. The team member of the individualized education program must ensure that the students’ fund application is submitted by the charter school to cover the unique needs accrued in educating students with special needs (Smith et al., 2015). Unusual requirements include those that exceed the costs in the school district or absent in outstanding special education services.
The school districts may lack the required funds to purchase the necessary equipment needed by disabled students. The Individual with Disability Act provides for the provision of assistive technology devices for such students (Landmark & Zhang, 2012).
The technology services comprise purchasing or leasing devices on behalf of disabled students. The Special Equipment Amount provides the required funds for the acquisition of the equipment needed by students with special needs. The funds help in the purchase of computers and other related devices required to undertake special education. Additionally, the special equipment fund is used to procure the equipment required in sensory, vision, and hearing support that the school districts may not afford (Smith et al., 2015). The physical and personal care support tools are equally availed using the Special Equipment Amount.
The individualized education program members play critical roles in ensuring that the needs of the disabled students are met. The students’ current and annual performance, transition services, and specific education services must be incorporated into the Individualized Education Program. Legal remedies concerning issues such as the provision of education-related services, inclusion, and residential transition for disabled students can be provided to parents. Alternative funding for students with disabilities can be availed through the contingency fund and the Special Equipment Amount.
Colker, R., & Milani, A. (2015). Everyday law for individuals with disabilities. London, UK: Routledge. Web.
Landmark, J., & Zhang, D. (2012). Compliance and practices in transition planning: A review of individualized education program documents. Remedial and Special Education, 34 (2), 113-125. Web.
Smith, T., Polloway, A., Patton, R., Dowdy, A., & Doughty, T. (2015). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive settings. New York, NY: Pearson. Web.
Snell, E., & Brown, F. (2014). Instruction of students with severe disabilities. New York, NY: Pearson Higher Education. Web.
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Stefkovich, J. (2013). Best interests of the student: Applying ethical constructs to legal cases in education. London, UK: Routledge. Web.