SPECIAL EDUCATION: LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT AND THE LAW
Special Education: Least Restrictive Environment and Law
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In this research paper, I will take an in-depth look by comparing and analyzing appeals and legislation processes where discrimination and inclusion by the management of schools in our country. The Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA) was passed by the United States Congress in 1990. It was after changing it from what was previously known as Education for All Handicapped Children Act CITATION Sch14 l 1033 (Ellen, 2014). The main reason for this act is to provide all children with disabilities equal opportunities as children who do not have a disability. The Act comprises four parts with part A and B being the main parts.
General provisions of the law are comprised in part A while part B is where assistance to education for disabled children is found. Toddlers and infants with disabilities are covered in part C while part D contains programs for support provided by the federal government.
Previously before this Act was enacted in 1975, public schools in the U.S. admitted only 1 out of 5 children with disability. Most states had passed laws that children with disabilities were excluded from getting into public schools. Most of the children were found in states institutions where there were no education services CITATION Bar13 l 1033 (Brown, 2013). Others in these institutions were caged in facilities where there were no instructions. With the passing of the Act, more than 6 million children had access to special education that the institutions offered as required by law.
Historically, the formation of this Act was pushed by the declaration of the Supreme Court unconstitutional in dividing white and black students from separate schools CITATION Jam15 l 1033 (Anderson, 2015). This ruling caused unrests by the Civil Rights Movement. It caused education to be at the forefront of the many presidents and political activists. Hence, the Congress passage of it into law.
The Congress intention was to ensure there are exclusive rights to challenge the placement of disabled students. Most of the states had shown the unwillingness to give students education and protection that they needed CITATION And14 l 1033 (Lee, 2014). It was a remedy to those wronged by administrators and schools. However, this act was inadequate in addressing discipline to disabled children. It only addressed certain problems but not when disabled children needed discipline from misbehavior.
The Act is categorical on whom the law is applied. It says the child should be aged between three and twenty-one and disabled. The disability should be either emotional, learning, physical or cognitive impairment. Thus, these conditions should need special services as well as education. Even if the child does not meet the requirements of a child with a disability but has difficulty in school, he/she is still entitled to the benefits CITATION And14 l 1033 (Lee, 2014). This child is entitled to appropriate public education within the least restrictive environment. Therefore, the Act meets the needs of challenged children and also protects their rights together with that of the parents.
This act has however proven worrisome to school administrators. Appropriate education is interpreted to include several protections that are not afforded to non-disabled children. The protections include federal court remedies and parents complaints about their children’s placement in the due process of their hearings CITATION Jam15 l 1033 (Anderson, 2015). These procedures have woken up some other rules that confuse schools on how to discipline disabled students while not invoking some sections of the Act. Since enactment of this Act, litigation has occurred so many times causing ambiguities in schools and parents on how to apply the provisions of law. To have a clear understanding of this law, the history of its legislation and its case body while understanding issues relating to disciplining disabled children must be understood. However, it leaves significant room for debate.
Administrators of schools have argued that with the recent decisions by the Supreme Court, it has become difficult to have an order in schools while ensuring that they regulate their schools. However, parents and students argue the law is giving school administrators protection to prevent injustice CITATION Bar13 l 1033 (Brown, 2013). Many indiscipline cases were emanating from disabled students before this Act was passed. Therefore, this resulted in disciplining disabled students. Hence, rights on procedure and substantive process on the Fourth Amendment issues was raised. On enforcing the Act, the Supreme Court found that when a suspension is issued temporarily from a public school, it resulted in denying liberty and property. In another case in the same court which was between Lopez v. Goss, it found out the exception in denial of due process when this student is a danger to the education process, people or property. Another case, Nappi v. Stuart the court found that school officials should suspend only and not expel disabled students. These two cases were arguing on the on the issue of expression of rights.
Rights expansion was a major issue concerning students with a disability in the late 1980s. There was a disabled student who action against his school, San Francisco Unified School District. The student brought charges against his school due to violations of the Act. Honig was the jury in this case. This student was suspended indefinitely because he was emotionally disturbed and apparently had caused disruptive and violent act. On his pending proceedings of the suspension outcome, he was to stay put in school. But the difference arose when the school did not allow him in school that was against the provisions of the Act CITATION Jam15 l 1033 (Anderson, 2015). This court held that if a student is suspended for more than ten days, it contravened the Act which had the stay-put provision. The court had to abolish exception of being dangerous during this period of staying put in school. It further stated schools to include temporary suspensions for not more than ten days if the students are a serious threat to the present students. Even though this court settled the issue of placement, several other issues cropped up later. A good example is that there was unclarity if suspending a student for more than ten days would constitute in changing placement while still allowing suspending a student several times for a smaller period of days equaling the ten days. Also, there was this provision that talked about not suspending a student about his or her disability. It has become a hot issue that was debated and could not be easily overcome.
Emotional disability is a major problem the courts. This disability is seen as something that needs to be treated medically or something that needs to be punished CITATION Jam15 l 1033 (Anderson, 2015). It has led to shifting focus if there is need to issue placement to the affected children. Hence, this shifts focus on the reasons behind the behavior and not why the behavior is exhibited. Even though Honig put this issue to rest concerning disciplining disabled students, many questions are coming which seems impossible to answer anytime soon or near future. Litigation of education issues is far from over.
Another inherent problem is that disabled students are not supposed to pay for services in their schools. It is assumed that disabled children should participate fully in the public system of the school. The Act states that a disabled child should be provided with the appropriate free public education system. The use of the term appropriate is where the dispute now arises. The court has stated severally that getting an appropriate education is not necessarily having the best education. Schools should do a supplementary budget to meet the needs of disabled children. However, these schools are not supposed to supply every aid or terms of service to the child CITATION And14 l 1033 (Lee, 2014). This appropriate education might, therefore, be seen as a way to these public schools to ignore what the Act guarantees. However, these public schools do provide the necessary education facilities to disabled children. If a challenged child is in school and his or her academic prowess is progressing, the child is deemed to be getting the appropriate education. In this case, we have the Winkelman vs. Parma City School District case. This case was being heard at the court of appeal. This case was brought on issues concerning getting the appropriate education. Mr. Winkelman wanted to know if their child would get the necessary aid in Pleasant Valley Elementary School. Their child had autism. Since it is a disability, they wanted to know if the child would get the necessary support in his school CITATION Fra15 l 1033 (Fiore, 2015). However, there arose a problem concerning agreements on the administrative proceedings of the act. The disagreement arose from dissatisfaction with the parents on the outcome of the process hearing. They sought further review by the District Court. The question that arose is if an own parent can represent their child in court as their attorney. Whether they are either licensed as attorneys or are not trained. It required examining the Act to find out if it gives parents rights to represent their children during court proceedings.
They allegedly filed a complaint regarding the school for not availing an administrative review that is provided in the Act. They challenged this administrative decision saying that the school had failed in providing appropriate education to their child. Before the resolutions were made for this challenge at hand, they enrolled their child at private school at their expense. They also got a legal counsel who was to assist them on certain legal aspects of the case. In their case, they sought to reverse the administrative decision, reimbursing of the attorney’s fees and also what they incurred at the private school. The case was later ruled for the parents’ child that stated that children with disabilities should get an appropriate public education while the rights of the child together with that of the parents are protected CITATION Jam15 l 1033 (Anderson, 2015).
Conclusively, this law is revised every three years to make sure the parents together with school administrators have an agreement on them. More so revised requirements of the law are added to prevent disagreements that arise.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, J. (2015). Child Maltreatment. Administration for Children and Families, 104-256.
Brown, B. (2013). Education for Handicapped Children Act. The MIT Press.
Ellen, S. (2014). IDEA Implementation. Intervention Programmes for Children with Disabilities, 28-350.
Fiore, F. (2015). Legal Aspects for Special Education. Oxford Press.
Lee, A. (2014). How IDEA protects you and your child. IDEA Regulations, 47-99.
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