Who pays for special education services?
One of the issues I have encountered when speaking with parents is the guilt of having their child using so many services at school. Often, teachers, as kind as they are, will talk about how they have other children in the class and how difficult it might be to attend to your child's needs. Additionally, child study teams, principals, other administrators will talk about the sky-rocketing cost of special education. Worst of all, many parents hear their neighbors complain about high property taxes and the cost of education, even when the neighbor doesn't have children in the schools.
It is hard not to be sympathetic to those arguments, and it is easy to feel that your child is a burden on the system.
Here is the answer that I believe is both appropriate and most needed. To the teacher with the big class, your answer must be, "That's not my problem." To the principal your answer must be, "That's not my problem." To the administrators and child study members who try to brow beat you into accepting less than appropriate services your answer must be, "That's not my problem." To your neighbors and the people who don't understand the issues you deal with everyday as they themselves complain about their property taxes, your answer must be, "That's not my problem." A secondary retort should be, "Can I complain about the cost of maintaining the roads and bridges even though I own one car and you own three?"
Most issues that are thrown at you as a parent who is asking for services revolve around time, staffing, and money. And your answer must always be, "That's not my problem."
Your child has rights and if you don't advocate for those rights then who will? Although the Constitution does not speak directly about education, your rights as a special education parent are protected by the Equal Protection Clause The Equal Protection Clause is part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment is where your Civil Rights are protected. Equal Protection is part of the fabric of what makes this such an amazing country.
Each state must adhere to FAPE - Free and Appropriate Public Education. Each state also must follow the Federal laws of IDEA - the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Taken directly from the U.S. Department of Education : Office for Civil Rights
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, including federal funds. Section 504 provides that: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . .
Taken directly from the Federal IDEA website:
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.
Over the next few weeks we will be adding as much usable and plain spoken discussion about the issues that face our most vulnerable citizens - special education students.
I sincerely hope these words and links will assist you in advocating for your child. And if I may - we are here to help you navigate these difficult waters!
May 17, 2017 - Douglass Dresher / NJ Advocate