Module Overview: Children with special needs include those with learning disabilities, emotional disorders, developmental disabilities, autism, hearing or visual impairment, speech or language impairment, and developmental delay. Schools are required to provide special services mandated by a Federal law called the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to students with these conditions and others.
- The primary Federal laws that provide the legal foundation for the education of children with disabilities are the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Title II, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
- IDEA provides a process for the screening and evaluation of children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs from birth through age 21.
- Evaluations of young children may lead to recommended Early Intervention services that can be remedial or preventive in nature.
- School-age children are usually evaluated to determine the presence of special needs when a parent of teacher suspects that a child is having difficulty in school.
- When the determination is made that a school-age child has special needs, schools are mandated under state and Federal regulations to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that contains services such as counseling or therapy.
- Parents have many rights under IDEA, including the right to choose whether or not to have their child evaluated and to repeal decisions about their child, among others.
- FERPA, which affords parents certain rights to access, amend, and prevent disclosure of their child’s education records, does not apply to DoDEA schools because they do not receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education; however, DoD follows similar guidelines to safeguard students’ rights.
- The primary role of the School Liaison is to empower parents to be advocates for their children.
- School Liaisons can help connect families of children with special needs to the academic support and resources that will enhance their success in the classroom.
- There exists a plethora of military and nonmilitary resources designed to assist families of children with special needs.
- Under a provision of IDEA known as “free appropriate public education” (FAPE), children with IEPs have the right to receive comparable services no matter the location of their school until the new school conducts a re-evaluation and changes the IEP.
- School Liaisons can remind families that have children with special needs to “hand carry” important documents to alleviate a delay in the provision of appropriate IEP-indicated services.
- School Liaisons must keep installation commanders updated about policies that affect children with special needs.
Looking Forward: Next, learn how School Liaisons can build and maintain relationships to support the success of military-connected children and their families.