If your child has a learning or thinking difference, he may have a
right to services and supports at school through an
. Since navigating this process can be tricky, you might decide to consult with a lawyer at some point. And the lawyer may use terms you’ve never heard. This mini-glossary can help you understand the legal language you’re hearing.
504 plan is a blueprint or plan for how a child will have access to education at school. It typically includes
accommodations, and sometimes services as well.
Due process is a formal way to resolve special education disputes.
This process is spelled out in the
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the main federal law for K–12 general education. ESSA requires annual testing for students. Under the law, states hold schools accountable for student progress within a framework provided by the federal government. Read about the
difference between ESSA and No Child Left Behind, the law ESSA replaced.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. There are only
a few circumstances in which a school can share a child’s records without a parent’s 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
outside evaluation done by a professional who isn’t employed by the school district. In some cases, schools may pay for this outside evaluation.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures that public schools serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities. Find out
how IDEA protects you and your child.
Lau v. Nichols refers to a Supreme Court decision that school districts must treat all students equally. Under this ruling,
English language learners (ELLs) must get the support and resources they need. “Lau remedies” are guidelines to make sure schools follow civil rights requirements when teaching ELLs.
Least restrictive environment (LRE) is part of IDEA, which states that public schools must educate kids with disabilities in a general education setting as much as possible. Read
more about LRE.
Local education agency (LEA) is the board of education or other authority that controls the public school.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is a federal education law that no longer exists.
NCLB was replaced by ESSA.
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Education that investigates allegations of civil rights violations in schools. Parents can file a complaint with OCR about these violations.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal civil rights law that bars discrimination against students with disabilities in schools. This law provides for
504 plans for students with disabilities.
Special education advocate is someone who guides parents through the special education process. He can’t give legal advice or represent families in lawsuits. See a chart that shows the
difference between an advocate and an attorney.
State education agency (SEA) is the agency that supervises public schools in each state.
“Stay put” rights are legal protections in special education law. A school can’t change your child’s services or placement until it goes through the proper dispute resolution process. Learn
more about “stay put” rights.
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, along with