Special Education

Special Education and COVID-19

Federal and state civil rights laws, which require schools to offer a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities, remain in effect regardless of the pandemic.

Parents who have concerns about a child’s access to special education services can contact us to speak with an attorney free of charge.

Know Your Rights

Right to a Free Appropriate Public Education

 A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and New Hampshire law require school districts to provide special education and related services for children with certain types of disabilities who, due to their disability, need specialized instruction and related services to receive an appropriate education.  Under these laws, school districts must make a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) available to eligible children until they are awarded a regular high school diploma or turn twenty-one, whichever comes first. Children who are eligible under IDEA receive specialized instruction and related services that are outlined in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is developed by the student’s IEP Team.  Parents are critically important members of the IEP team, as are youth with disabilities.  It is very important to make sure children and youth with disabilities are getting the services from school districts they are legally entitled to receive.  Below are links to informational brochures and resources related to special education.

Issue Spotlight: Special Ed & Parental Consent

Throughout the special education process, there are times when the school district must ask for your consent in writing.  The school needs to give you a paper called a Written Prior Notice any time they want to make a change to your child’s IEP or placement, or if they refuse to make a change to the IEP or placement.  It is also required when determining your child’s eligibility for special education and when the school wants to evaluate your child.

A Written Prior Notice explains the decision made by the school and why they came to that decision.  There is a separate paper that gives you the chance to sign as agreeing or disagreeing with the proposal being made by the school in the Written Prior Notice. You have 14 days to make a decision on the proposal.  If you sign as agreeing, you are giving the school parental consent to move forward with what they have proposed.  If you sign as not agreeing, the school does not have parental consent to make the change and will not be able to start the proposed action.

More importantly, if you do not sign the document at all within the 14 days, the school gets to move forward with what they have proposed as if you provided consent.

In other words, not signing at all is treated as if you have agreed to the proposal.

There are a few limited exceptions to this rule.  If the proposal is for the initial IEP for your child, then the school cannot provide special education services to your child unless they have your express written consent.  Therefore, in that situation, not signing the document means that your child will not have an IEP.  Additionally, a school cannot evaluate your child without your express written consent. If you do not sign the consent forms for an evaluation, then the school cannot move forward with the evaluation.

Know Your Rights: Special Education & Parental Consent

Related Videos

Special Education and Discipline, Part III

This is the third of a six-part series exploring special education and discipline in our public schools. Our topic continues with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and our guests are Howard Muscott, Director, NH Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and Maria Agorastou, PBIS Facilitator, NH Institute on Disability. Learn about PBIS, and […]

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