with offices in Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, & Lancaster (610) 922-4200
"For far too long handicapped children have been denied access to the regular school system because of an inability to climb the steps to the schoolhouse door, and not for any other reason. This has led to segregated classes for those children with physical handicaps. This is an isolation that is in many cases unnecessary. It is an isolation for the handicapped child and for the "normal" child as well. The sooner we are able to bring the two together, the more likely that the attitudes of each toward one another will change for the better. I firmly believe that If we are to teach all of our children to love and understand each other, we must give them every opportunity to see what "different" children are like. If we allow and, indeed, encourage handicapped children and nonhandicapped children to be educated together as early as possible, their attitudes toward each other in later life will not be such obstacles to overcome. A child who goes to school everyday with another child who is confined to a wheelchair will understand far better in later life the limitations and abilities of such an individual when he or she is asked to work with, or is in a position to hire, such an individual." Senator Robert Stafford (R. Vt.), June 18, 1975, introducing the Education for All Handicapped Children Act on the Senate floor. 121 Cong. Rec. 19478 (1975).
"Predetermination of an IEP can be grounds for finding a violation of the IDEA, in particular because predetermination can serve to exclude parents from meaningfully participating in the decision making process." D.B. v. Gloucester Twp. Sch. Dist., 751 F. Supp. 2d 764, 771 (D.N.J. 2010)
Your child and you have rights.
You probably already know about the Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Your child has a right to an IEP - a roadmap to a program and related services that provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
Just as importantly, you have rights to participate meaningfully in that program. No one knows your son or daughter as well as you do, which makes you the IEP Team's most valuable member. Unfortunately, the school district may take you for granted as a member of the team, and either disregard your valuable input, or fail to inform you that you have legal rights to participate.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") is the legal cornerstone of your child's rights and to your right to participate in his or her education. The IDEA forbids IEP teams from "predetermining" the program and services that go into your child's IEP. In other words, the team cannot make up its mind about your child's IEP before it meets with you. The IDEA also forbids the school from rushing you to make decisions, from making decisions without adequate information, and from making decisions without you.
Your school probably has a lot of work to do.
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