Do You Know Your Rights?


As a parent of a child with a disability, it is challenging and often frustrating when working with teachers and other school administrators.  Do you know that you and your child have many rights in the classroom?  We have listed some of the key rights below that you and your child have, of which you may be unaware.

Your Child’s Rights As A Student

  • Your child has the right to receive all special education services in the regular classroom no matter how severe his or her disability may be.
  • A child may not be placed in a segregated classroom merely because of his or her disability.
  • Students with disabilities may stay in regular classrooms with a full range of supports and services as long as they make progress on their individual goals in their IEP.  They need not complete the same work as all other students as long as they make progress.
  • The law lists some services that a child may receive through the school such as physical, occupational or speech therapies, but if your child needs something different, you have the right to ask for these services (e.g., play or music therapy).
  • Schools cannot require students to take medicine to attend school, such as Ritalin.
  • Schools cannot refuse supports and services because of cost or that it does not fit into their schedule.
  • Students whose behaviors interfere with their learning or of others must have a positive behavior support plan based on a Functional Behavior Assessment.
    • Physical restraints must be the technique of last resort.  The school must notify the parent whenever a restraint is used.  If a restraint is used, the school must give the option of meeting to determine if a new FBA, a reevaluation, a new positive behavior plan, or a change in placement is needed.
    • If restraints are included in an IEP, the IEP must also include specific PBS (positive Behavior Support) components; be used in conjunction with teaching of socially acceptable alternative skills; be used by authorized and trained staff; and there must be a plan in place to eliminate the use of restraints.
    • Prone restraints are prohibited.
  • Suspension for one school day for students with mental retardation (MR), and 15 school days in a school year for other students with disabilities, remains the standard for a “change in placement.”
  • A child who is receiving special education may be suspended or expelled from school.  During these suspensions or expulsions, students must continue receiving special education services.
  • Schools may transfer students receiving special education to alternative education settings without parental consent in cases of weapons, selling or buying drugs or severe harm to another or self.
  • If a child with MR is suspended for more than one day or a child with any other disability is suspended for more than fifteen days in a year, a manifestation determination hearing, (meeting to determine if behavior is the result of the disability), must be held.  If it is determined that a student’s behavior is not a result of their disability, then the school may punish the student in the same way as a student without a disability.
  • If the student’s behavior is a result of their disability, they may not be punished in the same way as other nondisabled students.

Your Parental Rights

  • You are allowed to take a friend, family member or advocate to any school meeting.  This other person can: assist you to take notes, remember what occurred at the meeting, and help you feel more confident.
  • Parents are an equal partner in the IEP process.  All together, school staff has only one vote, and the parents have the other vote when making decisions.
  • You have the right to say “NO” and “I do not agree” at any time, to results of evaluations, where your child is placed, what goals your child is working on, and what type of supports and services your child receives.
  • If the parent disagrees, he or she may use protections that are set in the law, such as facilitated IEPs, mediation, and due process hearings.
  • When a Parent disagrees with IEP team decisions, the parent may check “disagree” on the NOREP (Notice of Recommended Education Placement).  Then, the parent may request afacilitated IEP, mediation, resolution meeting, or due process hearing in writing.  The student will stay in his or her current placement while the disagreement is worked out.  This “stay put” rule can benefit parents and students if the school district is trying the “change placement” or other services and the parent does not agree with these changes.
  • You may open your child’s IEP at any time.  You may have monthly or weekly  meetings, if needed.
  • Parents may request an evaluation of their student at any time.  The same IQ test may only be given once a year so that the scores do not lose their value.
  • An evaluation of a child must be completed within 60 calendar days, except for the summer months.  A report called the ER (Evaluation Report) must be issued by this deadline of 60 days, which explains all parts of the evaluation process, in terms every one may understand.
  • After a parent has requested an evaluation in writing, the school district must give a Permission to Evaluate Consent form to the parent to be signed before testing may begin.
  • Parents may request an independent evaluation to be conducted at the school’s expense.  School districts may or may not agree to pay this independent evaluation.  The school is only required to pay the local rate that licensed school psychologists charge.  Schools do not have to agree with or use the results of this independent evaluation.
  • Parents have the right to visit and observe their child’s classroom.  The school may ask parents to notify the school when they plan on visiting.

Have you experienced an issue with your child’s teacher or school administration?  Or do you have questions regarding your rights? Please click here to contact us about your circumstance.