What Special Education Laws Protect Vulnerable Children at School?

Roughly 14% (seven million) children receive special education services each year. If you have a child enrolled in one of these services, then it’s vital to understand the special education laws that protect children with disabilities.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

While the Americans with Disabilities Act provides important civil rights for people with disabilities, it’s Title II of the act that contains important special education information.

Title II protects people from discrimination in participating in any public program or service provided by the local or State government due to their disability.

For special needs children, this ensures that they will not be excluded from any benefits or activities throughout their public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education.

Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act expands upon the ADA with more concrete guidelines for public schools that must provide an education for disabled kids.

Under IDEA schools must provide free evaluations, individualized education, less restrictive environments, install safeguards and provide meaningful opportunities for the child.

IDEA can sometimes offer preventative services before a child even gets into school. However, qualifying for the IDEA is much harder than the ADA. Mainly because it requires an individualized education program.

You can learn more about IDEA through this link here.

Section 504

If your child receives federal financial assistance, then Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects their rights to programs paid for by the assistance.

Section 504 also deals with common discriminatory practices that often take place against disabled students.

What is a disabled student?

Section 504 classifies it one as a student who has, “(i) has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity; (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment”.

Because of this broader definition, Section 504 helps a broader range of children than IDEA.

However, it doesn’t provide individualized programs like IDEA does, but it does require schools, especially higher education learning, to provide accommodation.

Erin’s Law

Children with disabilities are 1.7 times more likely to be maltreated than other children.

As such, it’s crucial to understand the laws that protect special needs children who have been abused. Erin’s Law is one such offer preventative and education programs.

The law started in New York but has spread to over 36 different states. Erin’s Law teaches parents and teachers some of the warning signs that sexual abuse takes place.

It also offers safe places for the child to bring abuse to light and recover. The law is a sad, but necessary change for special education children.

If Your Child Has a Disability, Then See If They’re Covered By Special Education Laws

You must make sure your disabled child gets all the help they can before and during their education. Special education laws help protect these rights.

Your child may not qualify for the programs offered by the acts, but it’s important to check nonetheless.

Especially because programs like IDEA can help them before they even get to school. If you want to contact the Office of Special Education Programs, then you can reach them at this page here.