Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"I want my child out of special ed!"

The Department of Education is proposing a major change in our special education regulations. If the proposed change is adopted, it would permit parents to pull their kids out of special education programs just by saying so. "I want my child removed from special ed." That would do it. No ARD meeting necessary. No third-party review.

This is a bad idea.

It is a bad idea because what the parent wants is not always what is best for the child. Our laws recognize this reality. Parental rights, when it comes to education, are limited. Parents have a constitutionally protected right to put their kids in private schools, but they do not have the legal right to dictate what their children learn, what they are exposed to in school, or how the teacher operates in the classroom. Educational decisions about what is best for kids are traditionally left to the teachers and administrators who are trained to make those decisions.

But this proposed regulation turns that on its head.

The regulations we have had in place for a long time provide a "checks and balances" system that serves kids well. If the parent wants the child removed from special education services, the parent would request an ARD meeting where the matter would be discussed. Many times--probably most of the time, in fact--the ARD Committee will accommodate this request. But there are times when removal from special education services is short sighted and harmful to the student. In those cases, the ARD Committee can refuse the request. The parent can then file a complaint with T.E.A., seek mediation or a due process hearing to deal with this issue.
That way a neutral third-party gets involved and the dispute can be resolved in the best interests of the student.

Those of you who are clients of the Walsh, Anderson law firm will soon receive an email alert with more information about this issue. For all interested readers, we encourage you to take a look at the changes proposed to 34 CFR 300.300, as set out in the Federal Register on May 13, 2008. Get involved in this important issue.