Special Education

Florida Law Enhances Special Education Rights

By Christina A. Samuels — July 02, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Florida enacted a new law this week intended to reiterate the rights of parents of special education students, including a provision that parents must agree to have their child placed on a track to earn a non-standard diploma, and that schools cannot discourage parents from bringing an adult of their choice to individualized education program meetings.

The text of the law, Senate Bill 1108, has been helpfully summarized by Disability Rights Florida, an advocacy group. The advocacy group supported the changes, said Ann Siegel, the managing attorney for the organization’s education team.

Many of the new provisions underline rights that were already a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but that parents nevertheless had a difficult time enforcing, Siegel said. Parents have always been a part of IEP team meetings, but Siegel said she has heard of cases where schools were shifting students onto special diploma tracks without giving parents an opportunity to object, or to even see the information that was prompting such a decision. The parents were then forced to shoulder the burden of proving that such a placement was inappropriate. Special, non-standard diplomas also cannot be used to enroll in college or the military, so a student with a special diploma can have limited options after graduation, she said.

The burden has now shifted to the school. Schools must also show why it is necessary for a student to be enrolled in a school that only students with disabilities attend.

Parents can also request an exemption from state testing for their children, in certain “extraordinary” circumstances. Such requests must come with a description of the student’s disability, a description of why he or she cannot take the test, written evidence that the student has had a chance to learn the material, and evidence of appropriate instructional accommodations, among other requirements. This piece of the law has the potential to run afoul of federal testing rules, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, though state lawmakers say they’re ready to defend the provision.

In addition to the enhanced rights for parents, the Florida law also defines the term inclusion, namely:

A school district shall use the term "inclusion" to mean that a student is receiving education in a general education regular class setting, reflecting natural proportions and age-appropriate heterogeneous groups in core academic and elective or special areas within the school community; a student with a disability is a valued member of the classroom and school community; the teachers and administrators support universal education and have knowledge and support available to enable them to effectively teach all children; and a student is provided access to technical assistance in best practices, instructional methods, and supports tailored to the student's needs based on current research.

The law requires that every three years, each school district and school shall complete a Best Practices in Inclusive Education evaluation, conducted by a facilitator with the Florida Inclusion Network.

On Special Education is on Twitter! Follow @OnSpecEd.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.


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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

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 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
Special Education Attention Deficit Rates Skyrocket in High School. Mentoring Could Prevent an Academic Freefall
Twice as many students are diagnosed with ADHD in high school as in elementary school, yet their supports are fewer, a study says.
4 min read
Image of a child writing the letters "ADHD" on a chalkboard.
Getty