Law and Legal System in SPED

I believe teachers need to understand these concepts

1. Evaluation and Placement

Schools have to use the appropriate tests to evaluate a student in order to obtain the adequate placement. Tests have to be valid, reliable and accurate for the student to be receive the proper education.This procedure must be completed within 60 days after the parent authorization or within the timeline allowed by the Law. These procedures are protected by IDEA.

2. Least Restrictive Environment

All the students with disabilities have the right to receive an appropriate education with peers with no disabilities in the same regular classroom, with the support of aids and services if needed. Otherwise, if the severity of the disability requires the student to be placed in a separate class, has to be supported by the IEP.

3. Technology Related Assisstance

It has been passed by the Congress to provide Assistive technology to students with disabilities. This technology consists in any device or service that makes a difference in the student with disabilities, including adapted access to computers, alternatives to handwriting, augmenting or providing alternative forms of communication,specialized software/equipment for specific academic needs, assistive listening devices, equipment software for the visual impaired.

4. Infants and Toddlers with disabilities

It is important to provide early Intervention to students with disabilities. that's why the Congress had considered these individuals in Part C of the IDEA. It requires that states implement programs for early intervention services from birth to age 3. An early diagnosis and support for these children can ended having substantial developmental delays if the interventions are not provided at an early stage.

5. Early Intervening Services

School districts have designated funding to provide intervention to students from Kindergarten to grade 12. Lower grade level from K to 3, need to be emphasized, since this is the time when the disability is identified and the student receives early intervention, which can make a difference in his/her development.

6. The Manifestation of Determination

It is a review made by the IEP team of a students, and it says: "If school officials sought a change of placement, suspension, or expulsion in excess of 10 school days, a review of the relationship between a student's disability and his or her misconduct, had to be conducted within 10 days". Regular disciplinary procedures are made if the determination made no relationship between the disability and the behavior. (Yell (2012).

7. Highly Qualified Teachers

IDEA requires teachers to be highly qualified and certified to teach students having severe disabilities, according to the standards established by NCLB (No Child Left Behind). Some of these qualifications, include a Bachelors and the be certified by the state as a Special Education Teacher. Students with disabilities will be assessed using an alternative achievement measure to comply with this Law.

8. Discrimination under Section 504

Section 504 is a Civil Rights Law, and consider Discriminatory an unequal treatment to individuals with disabilities. These students cannot be excluded or receive an inferior treatment because of their disability,they must be allowed to participate in any school activity. School staff must provide adequate resources to involve everyone in these activities, since they receive Federal funds for this purpose.

9. Response to Intervention

Response to Intervention is a scientific research based program, that provides interventions by parents and a school team before to start a referral. By using the appropriate instruction, students can succeed, otherwise next step action needs to be taken.

10. Physical Impairement

A physical impairment is any physical condition that affects a person performance. Some of these have been considered under Section 504, such as asthma, deafness, blindness, diabetes,cerebral palsy epilepsy, kidney disease, paralysis, multiple sclerosis and cardiac problems

11. Mental Impairment

Under the umbrella of Section 504, a mental impairment is a psychological disorder that affects the normal development of an individual,some of these conditions are: mental retardation, emotional or mental illness, specific learning disabilities, including ADHD and depression.

12. Disability

A disability is considered under Section 504, a mental or physical limitation, that substantially limit one or more life activities to a person. and can;t take care for one's self in performing daily regular activities such as, walking, hearing, breathing, learning or working.

13. Free Appropriate Public Education

It is required that all students no matter how severe the disability is, they receive education in a public school in the same jurisdiction at no cost of the student's family. Schools provide the facilities and accommodations need it to provide appropriate education to students with disabilities.

14. Placement

When deciding the placement of a students with disabilities, the schools need to work together with professionals and people knowledgeable of the students, analyze the data, options available and take a decision based in the student individual needs.

15. Training of Teachers Responsabilities

As regular classroom teachers, sometimes we are not aware of the Law requirements of Section 504. In order to avoid any law violation it is very important that effective training is provide it about responsibilities working with students with disabilities.

16. How to know when a student needs to be evaluated

Sometimes it could be very confusing to know if a student should be evaluated to receive Related Services. especially if I don't see any physical or mental disabilities. This decision should be done when: serious behaviors are present, he/she has been considered for suspension, grade retention, the student is not obtaining any benefit from instruction or has been identified as at risk, potential dropout. or suspicion of using drugs.

17. ADA and Public Education

The Americans with Disabilities Act, is not limited to employment and public services, It also affects schools, considering a schools as a public facility or having employees with disabilities. Also as part of the students preparation to work after their school time, they would be receiving the same treatment and facilities according to their abilities.

18. ADA and Section 504

ADA also extents to the protection included in Section 504, its contractors and recipients, to make sure that all the persons with disabilities, have equal opportunities.

19. What is considered a Reasonable Accomodation under ADA

In order for an individual to perform a job, the work environment needs to be modified, and provide the facilities need it. This modifications are not only in construction, they also need to be done modifying schedules, materials, or any type of assistance for people with disabilities.

20. Schools Selfevaluation

Schools must conduct self evaluation to make sure all the ADA requirements are completed and ensure they comply with the law. Some aspect they need to consider are: staff training programs and facilities, accessibility or any modification required.

21. ADA Transition Plan

If a problem has been identified that does not comply with ADA requirements, the school need to correct it and completed, the school will develop a completion plan to make the necessary changes.

22. IEP Team

The Individualized Education Program team, includes the parents, the special education teacher, the general education teacher, a school representative and instructional specialist. These professional, who are involved in the student education, can take decision of what is the best instructional plan, accommodations, related services and placement for the student.

23. Three year IEP's

A pilot program was offered by IDEA for the states to apply to the US Department of Education for a 3-year IEP. IDEA approved 15 states to offer the parents the option to developing a comprehensive 3-year plan, that may be modified when transition points are reached.

24. Charter Schools

Charter schools are also required to offer services to students with disabilities. This amendment was passed in 1997, these schools also receive funds under IDEA to provide these services.

25. Changes after IDEA

IDEA had successfully provide access to millions of children with disabilities, high standards and scientific based research methods to provide appropriate education, making a difference in children's life.


As a teacher, I can see the difference in the students life, when right services and instruction is provided. Research is advancing in this field everyday, educators and researches keep working everyday finding new methods, systems, effective instructional tools to make a difference in the development and success of these kids. It is very important that all the teacher and school staff learn more about Special Education, not only for their students with disabilities, but many strategies are also applicable to all students.

Yell, M. L., (2012) The Law and Special Education, 82

Yell, M (2012). The Law and Special Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.