If your child has a learning or attention issue that meets the legal definition of disability, he has a legal right to special services at school. You might decide to consult with a lawyer at some point. And the lawyer will likely use terms you’ve never heard. This printable mini-glossary can help you understand the legal language you’re hearing.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that requires schools and employers to make reasonable accommodations. Accommodations allow people with disabilities (including learning disabilities) to fully participate at school and at work.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is another federal law. It ensures that most student education records are kept private. There are some circumstances when your child’s records can be shared without your consent.
Free and appropriate public education (FAPE) refers to the legal requirement that public schools provide eligible kids with disabilities the support and services they need (and in general education settings as much as possible).
Independent educational evaluation (IEE) is an evaluation done by a qualified examiner who isn’t employed by the school district. In some circumstances, schools may pay for this outside evaluation.
Individualized Education Program (IEP) outlines the special education and related services (such as speech therapy or counseling) the school will provide to meet a student’s individual needs.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures that public schools serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities.
Lau remedies are guidelines to make sure schools follow civil rights requirements when teaching English language learners (ELLs).
Lau v. Nichols is a Supreme Court ruling. It found that school districts must treat all students equally. Non–English speaking students must get support and resources so they can learn.
Least restrictive environment (LRE) is part of IDEA. It states that public schools must educate kids with disabilities in a general education setting as much as possible.
Local education agency (LEA) is the board of education or other authority that controls the public school.
Modifications for students with disabilities are changes in what a student is expected to learn and demonstrate. They may be written in a student’s IEP and can include things like a reduced number of assignments.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires annual testing of students to improve achievement. It holds schools and states accountable for student progress. (NCLB is the current name for the federal law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.)
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Education that investigates allegations of civil rights violations in schools.
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is part of the U.S. Department of Education. It oversees Parent Training Information Centers (PTIs) focused on special education and kids with disabilities. It also makes sure that children with disabilities receive the services listed on their IEPs.
Response to intervention (RTI) is a process in which schools provide tiers of intervention for struggling students. They document a student’s response to each level.
Special education (SPED) is a legal term that refers to instruction specially designed to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities.
State education agency (SEA) is the agency that supervises public schools in each state.
Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program provides federal grants to states and school districts for literacy programs for children (from birth through 12th grade).
Supplemental services are free educational services (like tutoring) offered to students from low-income families. Parents choose from a list of approved providers, and the school district pays.
It’s valuable to understand terms like these when speaking to a lawyer. You may also want to check out which laws do what. Studying up on terms educators use could also be a big help when it comes to advocating for your child.