How the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Affects Your Special Needs Child

What you should know about IDEA and Section 504 regulations

The federal government has put into place a number of Acts and laws designed to protect people with special needs and/or disabilities, and to ensure that all children have a chance to be successful in school. Under some of these laws, educators, administrators and even the state of Tennessee must ensure that students can access the right resources to help them. If your child has been denied access to these resources, or if you are a teacher whose students cannot learn because administrators have made it difficult or impossible for you to uphold the law, the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC is ready to help. Attorney Craft has spent almost 40 years giving a voice to the voiceless in and around Nashville. When you need an education lawyer who stand up for you, you need Perry Craft.

How the laws differ

There are three separate laws which affect special needs students in Tennessee and around the country. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is usually the most well-known: it ensures that no person with a disability is denied access to public services. In this case, it means that a child with special needs has a right under the law to attend public school in Tennessee.

The other two laws generally work in tandem to ensure that all children get the kinds of help that they need, when they need it. They are, as defined by the Disability Rights, Education & Defense Fund:

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004: “An education act to provide federal financial assistance to State and local education agencies to guarantee special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities” and
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: “A civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities, public and private, that receive federal financial assistance.”

While the IDEA ensures that a child with special needs is given the right to an education, a 504 plan outlines how a particular educational institution will provide that access. For example: the IDEA requires that children with dyslexia be taught how to read; the 504 plan outlines which tools (such as software programs or reading specialists) will be utilized to ensure that the child has the best chance at learning how to read. While the IDEA is applicable only to students, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a civil rights issue, and can be applied outside of the realm of education. Both laws are executed on behalf of your children through the IEP.

Protecting the rights of special needs students

Once a child is found to have special needs, the school must meet those needs under federal law. At the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, we know that this can sometimes be the hardest part of the process. Attorney Craft advocates for your children to ensure that the school upholds the law. He often represents students in Section 504 meetings, and can create strategies designed to help your child in due process disputes over eligibility.

Attorney Craft also works with teachers who cannot access the resources they need for their special needs students, or who have been tasked with responsibilities that fall outside of the scope of their work and their contract. Thus a teacher who is told to make his or her classroom meet a 504 Plan, but cannot do so with the resources or materials granted by the Board of Education, has options for moving forward.

When you work with our firm, you work with a Nashville education law attorney who truly cares about your child’s future, and advocates tirelessly on behalf of special needs students throughout Tennessee.

Is your child being given every chance to succeed in school?

The Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC serves students, parents and teachers in and around Nashville when a school is in non-compliance with the IDEA or their Section 504 plans. We offer practical guidance and support and we never stop advocating on your behalf. To schedule a consultation with a skilled Nashville school law attorney, please call 615.239.1899 or fill out our contact form.