Education Law

Nationwide Cerebral Palsy Resource Network

Educators are legally responsible for providing every child with a meaningful education.  They are further required to consult with parents regarding educational planning for a child. If a parent feels a school district is not providing an appropriate education, or is not making reasonable accommodations, he or she may need an education attorney who concentrates in special education matters.

If you feel your child isn't receiving the education he or she is entitled to and your efforts to advocate on his/her behalf are encountering obstacles, you might need legal assistance. Please call (800)462-5772 to learn about legal resources at Stern Law, PLLC today.

About education law

The right to a free education irrespective of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, political preference, or religion is a recognized human right under Article 26 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. This right was enacted to promote the common standard of achievement for all people of all nations to develop human personality and knowledge, and strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, worldwide.

Education provides for, among other things, the mental, physical, and social development of an individual. The right to a free education is furthered in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), adopted by the United Nations on December 16, 1966.

In these multilateral treaties, governments are urged to pass social, cultural, spiritual, and philosophical values of the community along through education. Governments are urged to respect, protect, and fulfill an individual’s right to an education that is:

  • Available – Free, funded by the government and made available to all, including concepts of active recruitment, proper training, appropriate retention, qualified staff, and proper infrastructure and facilities;
  • Accessible – Equal access to all children for a publicly funded education with no forms of discrimination, segregation, or access denial. Access should be affordable and within a reasonable distance, otherwise transportation is to be provided;
  • Acceptable – Education that is non-discriminatory, relevant, culturally appropriate, objective, and unbiased, with health and safety standards in place;
  • Adaptable – Education is to be flexible to communal needs, adaptable to disabilities, and accommodating of special needs.

In the United States, parents play an important role in advocating for their child’s civil and educational rights. Awareness and familiarity with worldwide initiatives, federal legislation, and legal rights equips you with the ability to ensure that your child’s education needs are safeguarded.

In addition, federal regulations, legislation, and policy initiatives continually transform the educational rights of students with disabilities and special learning needs, which is critical to understand if you are the parent of a child with a birth injury that has resulted in an impairment or disability. The goal of education laws is to provide every child, regardless of gift, disability, or special learning needs, with an equal opportunity for a public education that optimizes his or her learning potential. For instance, the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, a revision of IDEA of 1997, helps define special education as “specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the needs of a child with a disability” and includes “instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals, in institutions, and in other settings.”

The federal government identified thirteen (13) special needs categories:

  • Autism;
  • Deaf-blindness;
  • Deafness;
  • Hearing impairment;
  • Mental retardation;
  • Multiple disabilities;
  • Orthopedic impairment;
  • Other health impairment;
  • Serious emotional disturbance;
  • Specific learning disability;
  • Speech or language impairment;
  • Traumatic brain injury;
  • Visual impairment.

Specific learning disabilities are further defined as impacting one or more “of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations,” including perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

Children identified as gifted in one of the following three areas, are also provided for under IDEA:

  • Cognitively gifted;
  • Athletically gifted;
  • Artistically gifted.

Parents work with the local school system to have their child evaluated through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP identifies additional services and devices that may be required in order to provide equal access to a publicly-funded education.

The school system will try to optimize the child’s learning experience in the least restrictive environment. This may require instruction in classrooms, at home, in institutions, at separate school facilities or in health care facilities. It may also involve adaptive equipment, assistive technologies, communication devices, and specialized services, as needed.

Through the years, laws have shaped understanding, awareness, and access to individual education rights and special education. Some significant legislation that helped to shape and protect children’s education rights, include:

  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
  • Education for the Handicapped Act;
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990;
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997;
  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001;
  • American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009;
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

A lawyer concentrating in education law may represent the government, the school system, the teachers, or the student in matters such as statutory compliance, civil rights, contract disputes, disciplinary proceedings, discrimination, due process, immunity protections, injury and liability, special education disputes, staff and student relations, employer relations and student/teacher conduct, and privacy.

Education law is often broken down into two distinct areas:

  • School law;
  • Special education law.

For more information regarding the legal protections your special child has and how an attorney can help, please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800)462-5772 for free.