Parents, guardians, and other family members of students with disabilities in Central New York have a lot to consider when it comes to their child's education. It is important to understand the laws, regulations, and policies that affect special education programs in the area. A regular educational intervention plan is suitable for a student who does not have a disability or is not suspected of having one, but may be facing challenges in school. School districts typically form teams to provide teachers in regular education classrooms with educational support and strategies to help students who need assistance.
If the school district believes that the student needs services to receive an adequate education, they may initiate a due process hearing under Section 504 to resolve the dispute. The school district must then determine if the student has a disability that substantially limits their ability to learn or other important life activity and, if so, individually determine the child's educational needs in terms of regular or special education or related aids or services. At the post-secondary level of education, a qualified student with a disability is one who meets the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the institution's educational program or activity. For example, a student who has a physical or mental disability would not be considered a student in need of services under Section 504 if the disability does not in any way limit the student's ability to learn or other important life activities, or only results in some minor limitation in that regard.
Section 504 requires receiving school districts to refer a student to be evaluated for possible special education or related aids and services or to modify regular education if the student, due to a disability, needs or is believed to need such services. Such education consists of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities in the same way that the needs of students without disabilities are met. In New York, guardianship cases under Article 17-A are considered in the Surrogate Court and are filed under section 17-A of the Surrogate Judicial Procedures Act. In public elementary and secondary schools, unless a student actually has a disability that substantially limits a major life activity, the mere fact that a student has a history of disability or is considered disabled is not sufficient, in and of itself, to activate the Section 504 protections that require the provision of free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Except in extraordinary circumstances, the OCR does not review the outcome of individual placement decisions or other educational decisions, as long as the school district complies with the procedural requirements of Section 504 related to the identification and location of students with disabilities, the evaluation of such students, and due process. It is essential for parents and guardians to understand their rights when it comes to special education for their children.
A fundamental provision of these special education laws is the right of parents to participate in the educational decision-making process. It is important for parents and guardians to be aware of all laws and regulations that affect their child's special education program so they can make informed decisions about their child's future.