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Special Education Law

Every child with a recognized disability, such as autism, emotional disturbance, hearing, speech/language, and/or visual impairments, developmental disability or intellectual disability, orthopedic (physical) impairments, other health needs, and specific learning disabilities, has the right to a free and appropriate public education equal in quality to that provided to their non-disabled peers. Regrettably, many students with special needs are denied this basic right.

For children with special needs, a local school district must provide an education – and related services – without cost to the student or the student’s family. If your child is among those whose needs are not being met by your local school district, an experienced education lawyer can provide the representation both you and your child need to achieve the necessary goals.

Should you be the parent of a child with special needs, Barger & Gaines has the experience needed to help guide you through the educational systems in New Jersey and New York. We will evaluate the school district’s conduct and pursue the legal actions necessary to obtain the educational services that your child deserves.

It Is Your Right: Free & Appropriate Public Education

pic-special_educationThe Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) ensures that all children with special needs receive an education that prepares them for further education, employment, and independent living. Children whose educational requirements are not being met require additional support and assistance from their local school district. Special education may include specially designed instruction in classrooms, at home, or in private or public institutions, and may be accompanied by related services such as speech therapy, occupational/physical therapy, psychological counseling, and medical services necessary to the child’s education.

Individual situations and facts leading to the need for an assessment and intervention are as unique as each child. However, there is a general set of conditions that may arise in special education law which may include school administrators failing to:

  • Notice and acknowledge a child’s special physical, emotional and/or learning needs and provide necessary assessments;
  • Develop an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) for the child, as required by law;
  • Allow the parent(s) and proper school personnel to participate in developing the child’s IEP;
  • Implement the IEP as developed, therefore failing to provide needed services for the child;
  • Train parents and school personnel to appropriately deal with the child’s and his/her disability; or
  • Allow a child with special needs to participate in and provide accommodations for extracurricular activities.

Barger & Gaines has both the knowledge and understanding of the New Jersey and New York school systems and Special Education Law to appropriately handle each and every matter, from attendance at your child’s IEP Meeting to representing both you and your child at Mediation and during Due Process.

Issues in Special Education

Eligibility for Special Education

To be found eligible for special education, your child must meet all three prongs of the following test:

  1. My child has one of more of the disabilities defined in the state’s governing code (in NJ, NJAC 6A:14-3.5);
  2. That disability adversely affects my child’s educational performance; and
  3. My child therefore is in need of special education and related services.

A disability alone without any adverse educational impact will not avail a student of special education programming or related services in school.

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“Stay Put

Parents of students eligible for special education and related services have several procedural protections available to them. One of the most important of these procedural protections is the ability to invoke “Stay Put” of the last agreed upon Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

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When contemplating whether a student is or remains eligible for special education and related services, school districts are required to assess students in all areas of suspected disability.

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Reimbursement for Unilateral Placements by Parents

If parents of a child with a disability believe that their school district has not made available to their child a FAPE, both federal and state law provides a procedural protection which allows parents to, at their own financial risk, make a unilateral placement of their child at a private/non-public school that they believe will afford their child the FAPE to which he is entitled.

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