Special Education

Ed. Dept. Releases Rules for Parents Under IDEA

By Christina A. Samuels — December 05, 2008 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education has released changes to regulations governing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that affect rules regarding parental consent, non-attorney representation, and compliance requirements.

The rules, published in the Federal Register on Dec. 1, state that parents have the right to revoke their consent for their children to receive special education services, after making a request in writing.

Before the change, the regulations were unclear about how parents could stop their child from receiving special education services if they chose to do so, the Education Department said.

In an explanation that accompanied the rules when they were released for public comment earlier this year, the department said its “long-standing interpretation” was that parents could not unilaterally decide to have special education services stopped if the school district believed the child still needed such services to receive a free, appropriate public education.

The change allowing parents’ revocation of consent is “consistent with the IDEA’s emphasis on the role of parents in protecting their child’s rights,” the department said. A district may ask why a parent is choosing to revoke consent, but an explanation is not necessary.

Changing Minds

The change means that students who are removed from special education services are to be treated like general education students in all ways, the department said, including losing some of the protections given to students in special education who have discipline problems related to their disabilities.

Parents are also allowed to change their minds and have their children re-evaluated for special education services, even if earlier they had revoked consent, the department said.

Another change in the regulations will allow state law to determine whether non-lawyers can represent parents in due-process hearings.

The IDEA says that either side in a due-process hearing may be accompanied by counsel, or by people with expertise in special education. The law does not say, however, whether those experts can actually represent parents if the experts are not lawyers.

The Education Department referred to a 2000 case in Delaware, where authorities initiated proceedings against Marilyn Arons, a lay special education advocate, for unauthorized practice of law.(“Court to Weigh Expert Fees in IDEA Cases,” Jan. 18, 2006.) The Delaware Supreme Court ultimately decided that the IDEA did not require the state to permit non-lawyers to represent parents.

The federal special education law should respect the interest that states have in regulating legal practice, the Education Department said. The new rule would also apply to districts, which could also not be represented by lay advocates, such as special education administrators, if state law forbade it.

The rule would not prevent parents from representing themselves in due-process hearings. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in a 2007 case that such representation was permissible. (“High Court Backs Parents’ Rights to Argue Cases Under IDEA,” May 25, 2007.)

A third change states that if a school district determines it is out of compliance with any of the provisions of the IDEA, the district has one year from the time the problem is noted to correct it.

The timeline is needed because problems weren’t being fixed quickly enough, the department said. Before the adoption of the rule, there was no timeline for correction in the IDEA.

Some commenters on the rules noted that some areas of noncompliance can be fixed quickly, such as those that may relate to a specific child. But larger, systemic problems might take a longer time to rectify.

However, a state or district can implement short-term correction plans while developing broader strategies, the department said.

A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2008 edition of Education Week as Ed. Dept. Releases Rules for Parents Under IDEA


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education 3 Reasons Why Being a Special Education Teacher Is Even Harder During the Pandemic
Special education teachers were often left to navigate the pandemic on their own, a new survey shows.
6 min read
Paraprofessional Jessica Wein helps Josh Nazzaro answer questions from his teacher while attending class virtually from his home in Wharton, N.J.
Paraprofessional Jessica Wein helps Josh Nazzaro answer questions from his teacher while attending class virtually from his home in Wharton, N.J.
Seth Wenig/AP
Special Education Opinion Inclusive Teachers Must Be 'Asset-Based Believers'
Four veteran educators share tips on supporting students with learning differences as they return to classrooms during this pandemic year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Special Education Opinion 20 Ways to Support Students With Learning Differences This Year
Embed student voices and perspectives into the classroom is one piece of advice educators offer in this third pandemic-affected school year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Special Education Schools Must Identify Students With Disabilities Despite Pandemic Hurdles, Ed. Dept. Says
Guidance stresses schools' responsibilities to those with disabilities, while noting that federal COVID aid can be used to address backlogs.
2 min read
School children in classroom with teacher, wearing face masks and raised hands
DigitalVision/Vectors/Getty