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Schools must educate all children between the ages 6 and 17 with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. The same laws for children without disabilities apply to those with disabilities. Each state’s education agency is responsible for locating, identifying, and evaluating all children, from birth to age 21, this requirement of IDEA is called the child find system.
Nondiscriminatory Evaluation
Schools must use nonbiased methods of evaluation to determine whether a child has a disability and, if so, whether the child needs specially designed instruction to benefit from education. Identification and placement decisions cannot be made on the basis of a single test score, this is known as protection in
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Parental consent must be obtained for initial and all subsequent evaluations and placement decisions regarding special education. Schools must maintain the confidentiality of all records pertaining to a child with disabilities and make those records available to the parents. When parents of a child with disabilities disagree with the results of an evaluation performed by the school, they can obtain an independent evaluation at public expense. When the school and parents disagree on the identification, evaluation, placement, or provision of a FAPE and related services for the child, the parents may request a due process hearing. States also must offer parents an opportunity to resolve the matter through mediation by a third party before holding a due process hearing. If parents prevail in due process or judicial proceedings under IDEA, the state must reimburse their attorneys’ fees. The law also allows the court to award reasonable attorneys’ fees to the prevailing school district against the attorney of a parent, or the parent who files a complaint that the court determines to be frivolous, unreasonable, without foundation, or filed for any improper purpose, such as to harass.
Parent Participation and Shared Decision Making Schools must collaborate with parents and students with disabilities in the planning and implementation of special education and related services. The parents’ (and, whenever appropriate, the student’s) input and wishes must be considered in determining IEP goals, related-service needs, and placement
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