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DOE: Less than half of states meeting special ed obligations

In an annual review this summer, the U.S. Department of Education found that only 22 states could be awarded the "meets requirements" designation for providing all services required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.

The IDEA is our nation's premier law guaranteeing special education. More specifically, it requires public schools to provide a free and appropriate education to every student, regardless of disability.

The other 28 states, including New York, were designated as needing assistance providing a free and appropriate education for children aged 3 to 21 who have disabilities. Luckily, no state received the labels "needs intervention" or "needs substantial intervention."

Unfortunately, this year's review indicated a drop in the number of states meeting all the requirements of the IDEA. Last year, 24 states received the designation of "meets requirements." New York was designated as a state that "needs assistance" last year, as well.

In performing this annual review, the Education Department considers both student performance and student outcomes, along with procedural requirements such as the completion of special education evaluations.

When states fail to achieve the "meets requirements" designation for two or more consecutive years, the IDEA requires the DOE to take an enforcement action. This can include withholding or redirecting school funds, the development of a corrective action plan, or requiring other changes.

Parents should know that if their school district is unable to provide the free and appropriate education to which their child is entitled, they can pursue a claim for tuition reimbursement or funding so that they can enroll their child in an appropriate school.

If your child has any type of disability and you are concerned about their education, we urge you to contact an education law attorney.

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