Placement and Accommodations

Now that the first round of lottery selections have been completed in Durham County schools, some parents of children with special needs may be wondering whether they selected the proper school for their child and what accommodations will be needed.

Placement

All Exceptional Children (EC) students are entitled to the same education as other children in public, magnet and charter schools.  N.C.Gen.Stat. § 115C-107.1 provides that all children are entitled to a free appropriate education.  Inclusion should be the rule, not the exception.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination of children with special needs in education settings.  However, there is not an enforcement mechanism for a Section 504 plan.  You can only file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.  Twenty U.S.C. § 1401(9) provides that a Free Appropriate Education includes services that are “in conformity with the Individualized Education Program . . . “  The EC program, established as a result of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Article 9 of Chapter 115C of the North Carolina General Statutes prohibit discrimination and provide for enforcement of the anti-discrimination requirement through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations must be provided for children to participate in regular classroom settings.  The accommodations include, but are not limited to, one-on-one assistants, test taking accommodations (time extensions, alternative places for test taking, assistance with writing or typing, filling in bubble sheets), physical or occupational therapy, medication assistance and hearing/speech devices.

Unfortunately, some students are denied testing to see if they qualify for an IEP.  Others have an IEP, but are not given the proper accommodations and services needed to help them participate as much as possible in a regular classroom setting.  Some parents have told me they have an IEP for their child, but the school refuses to let their child into a regular classroom.  The child is placed in an EC classroom where the child may not receive adequate social interaction and attention they need.

Whether your child is in year-round school or traditional, now is the time to evaluate the services your child is receiving and see if they are adequate, especially if your child is changing schools this year.