Special Education

Plain Talk on Rights Under the IDEA

By Christina A. Samuels — October 24, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In Connecticut, parents of children in special education receive a document that says when disagreements arise over their children’s education, “the parent or the school may ask, in writing, for a hearing to review what was decided.”

In Maryland, the same type of document uses more bureaucratic terms: “The parent or a public agency may request a due-process hearing regarding the public agency’s proposal or refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student.”

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that parents be notified of their rights under the special education law.

But too often, parents are told of their rights in language that is hard to understand, says a study published in the Summer 2006 edition of Exceptional Children, the journal of the Council for Exceptional Children in Arlington, Va.

Authors Julie L. FitzGerald and Marley W. Watkins of Pennsylvania State University examined notices throughout the country. They suggest that the states could add larger text, summaries, subheadings, and flowcharts to such documents to aid their readability.

“I hope this paper contributes by helping schools and departments of education understand what plain language means,” Ms. FitzGerald, a graduate student in school psychology, said in an interview.

“To be honest, we haven’t gotten any complaints,” said William Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education. However, the state will be revising its notices now that the U.S. Department of Education has issued final regulations for the 2004 reauthorization of the IDEA, and will do so with an eye toward comprehensibility, he said.

And for the first time, the federal Education Department has released a model document that states can adapt for their own use, said Alexa Posny, the director of the department’s office of special education programs. The model form focuses on making sure that all the parental-notice requirements of the law are met, Ms. Posny said, but “we did try to break it up and have it flow so that it makes sense.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 25, 2006 edition of Education Week


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 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