Disability Rights for Florida Students

Students with disabilities are welcomed at all schools and educational communities within Florida, and the department of education has created a system to provide any assistance students need to guarantee they get the best out of the their schooling. Since 2013, there have been extra measures put in place to ensure their rights are protected; this was named the Exceptional Student Education Law.

The Exceptional Student Education law was brought in four years ago to build on the already existing structure that safeguarded and promoted rights for all students with disabilities. It carried in it five tenants were designed to assist both families and students.

The Choice to Bring Support to Meetings

This section of the law allows the parent to bring another adult of their choosing to meetings at school about their child. It is completely their choice whom they decide to bring for support, and the school should not pressure the parents into coming alone. If the parent feels at all discouraged, they are asked to fill out a document stating this.

Decisions about your Child’s IEP

IEP stands for Individual Educational Plan; it is a unique document that every child with disabilities has to have and is reviewed regularly. It basically denotes how best a student learns and what areas they may need more assistance in. It informs decisions about the pupil’s education, the most important two being the following:

  • Whether the student will be taught a curriculum which is not a part of the regular diploma/testing system
  • Whether the student should be attending an ESE school that specializes in and is only attended by individuals with disabilities.

With the new law in place, these important decisions can only be made with the parent’s approval. The IEP team must provide the parent with information regarding the advantages/disadvantages of the above two options. If a parent contests the decision of the IEP team, a hearing will take place. This is an annual process, as the IEP has to be reviewed regularly.

A Right to Information

At the primary IEP meeting at the start of the year, parents will be informed of the amount of money each level of the ESE is receiving for their district.

Professional Collaboration

This means parents have the right to have their private professionals collaborate, work with and observe the child in a school setting. This could be a behavior analyst, social worker, speech therapist etc. The school and parents must agree upon the times beforehand, and this does not prevent the school in question from providing these services also. This law was put in place to ensure ease of collaboration between different parties, as it is best for the student’s development.

Exemption From Testing

A request may be put in to allow students to be exempt from certain testing.  This is if the testing is believed not to test ability, but assess disability. If a parent contests the decision, they may appeal at a hearing.

These five items are in addition to a larger system that is designed to ensure all disabled students have sufficient rights and opportunity based on their own individual needs.

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