The Special-Ed Maze
Parents do have rights when navigating Special Education.
If your child is being evaluated for a special-education program, you have a host of rights to ensure that your views are considered and your child’s educational well–being is protected.
You have the right, as embodied in both New Jersey and federal law:
- to request an evaluation by the school if you believe your child has an educational disability.
- to have your child evaluated by professionals unconnected with the school and have the results considered by the school district.
- to request an evaluation of your child at school expense by an independent team of professionals.
- to disagree with the district’s request to evaluate your child. (The school cannot conduct a first-time evaluation without your written consent.)
- to examine the results of the evaluation, and to have the evaluation results explained in your native language.
- to examine all school records relating to your child; to have the results explained to you; to obtain copies of those records; to request that records you believe are inaccurate be changed.
- to expect that your child’s records will not be released to anyone outside of the school without your consent.
- to have someone you choose accompany you to school meetings about your child.
- to participate in the development of the special-education program for your child. (This is called the Individualized Education Program or IEP.)
- to have your child receive a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment if he qualifies for special education.
- to refuse or withdraw your consent to the special-education placement of your child. He cannot be placed in a special-ed program for the first time without your written consent.
- to observe the special-education placement proposed for your child.
- to participate in the annual review of your child’s special-education program.
- to be informed in writing before the school changes your child’s special-education program.
- to be informed in writing of the school’s reasons for not granting your request to change your child’s special-education program.
- to initiate a due-process hearing to challenge the school’s decision about the special education of your child.
Dr. Kenneth Shore, a psychologist, teaches part-time at Rutgers.
Read more about Special Needs on NJ Family: