The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) was formed to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents.
When your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the school system must obtain consent before changing the program. If you do not agree with the school’s changes, there are procedural safeguards that help with this.
These safeguards explain what the school system can and cannot do when evaluating and providing special education and related services to your son/daughter. There are 15 important procedural safeguards.
15 Important Procedural Safeguards;
1. Educational Records Access:
Parents or legal guardians have the right to see, make copies of and get an explanation of your son/daughter’s educational records. FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is the law that protects these rights.
2. Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE):
Parents/legal guardians have the right to request an IEE which is an evaluation of your son/daughter’s skills/needs by someone outside the school system. The IEE results have to be considered by the school system, but the school is not required to accept the findings.
3. Parent Participation:
Parents/legal guardians have the right to participate in meetings about your son/daughter’s education.
4. Prior Written Notice:
When something needs to be added, changed, or denied, the school system has to give the parent/legal guardian a written notice.
5. Procedural Safeguards Notice:
A written explanation of all procedural safeguards parents/guardians have under federal/state law must be provided by the school system.
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6. Understandable Language:
Notice and consent language must be understandable to the general public and must be provided in the family’s native language (including Braille).
7. Confidentiality of Information:
The school system must protect your son/daughter’s confidentiality. There are some exceptions that are noted in FERPA.
8. Informed Consent (or Parental Consent):
The school system has to inform the parent/legal guardian of the process when conducting an evaluation or providing special education services. Written permission has to be granted by the parent/guardian before the school system can proceed.
9. “Stay Put” Rights:
If a proposed change of your child’s placement is not agreed on, this provision allows your child to stay where they are until the school, and you go through the dispute resolution process.
10. Due Process:
This is a formal way of resolving disagreements between the parents and the school if there is a dispute about your child’s special education. This process starts when the parent files a written complaint.
11. Civil Action:
If the due process hearing results are not what the parents expected, they can file a civil lawsuit.
An alternative to a due process hearing. A mediator is a neutral third party that helps the parent/legal guardian and the school resolve the dispute.
13. Reimbursement of Attorneys Fees:
The school system has to pay for attorney fees if the parent/guardian wins the due process hearing/civil action if a judge orders it.
14. State-Level Appeal:
Parents/Guardians can appeal the due process hearing results to the state department of education. This is feasible in some states.
15. State Complaint:
The parent/legal guardian can make a written complaint to an official state agency if a school violates federal/state education laws.
Like anything in education; the more you know, the better prepared you can be to ensure advocacy for your child! There are plenty of additional Special Education Resources available to make sure you understand this very particular process and the rights you have as parents.
Have you had experience with these safeguards? If so, please share in the comment section. The more we all discuss our experiences, the better educated we can become!