Are you the parents of a child with autism or other type of disability who receives special education services? Do you currently have a dispute with your school district related to your child's education? Would you like to learn more about state special education laws and regulations to use in your advocacy? This article is for you and will discuss these laws and the information you need to know to strengthen your advocacy!
1. Each state is required by IDEA 2004 (Federal Law on Special Education) to have laws and regulations that will show how they will comply with the law.
2. State regulations cannot "make provisions that reduce parental rights or otherwise conflict with IDEA and federal regulations" requirements. Federal law "wins out" or is stronger than state law. State law can give more rights to a parent, but cannot take them away.
3. The laws of many states are not compatible with federal laws.
4. Some states have been advised that they need to change their national regulations to comply with federal law. For example: New Jersey has declared in its regulations that school districts have the right to test a child in an area they have not previously tested – if a parent requests an independent educational assessment at the expense of the child. State (IEE at state expense). The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has found this incompatible with IDEA 2004 (300.502). They asked NJ to revise their bylaws and until they do, make sure school districts don't assess kids in a previously unrated area before paying for one. EEI.
5. Other state regulations are also inconsistent with federal law, but the United States DOE has not been advised of the need to change their regulations. One example is New York which has a regulation that ESY eligibility is only for children with multiple disabilities and / or who show regression and slow recovery. This does not comply with Federal Special Education Law and may harm children by denying them needed services. Another example is in my state of Illinois, the parenting guide states that parents must "apply" for an IEE before testing is done. IDEA 2004 states that parents have the right to 'get' an IEE if they don't agree with the school assessment. A letter to the Illinois State Board of Education highlighting this inconsistency was responded to with this statement "The office plans to review the identified guidance document and make necessary revisions over the summer. 2012. Your information will be taken into account during this process. "It is now 2014 and I will not be holding my breath for the State of Illinois to revise their parenting guide.
6. OSEP policy letters often deal with inconsistent national laws and regulations! These are great advocacy tools and can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/index.html#topiclisting. I use them all the time to show special educators how the Office of Special Education Programs (US DOE) interprets IDEA 2004 and inconsistent state regulations.
By understanding these 6 things about the state special education law, your advocacy will be strengthened! Good luck!