Some students have trouble at school that includes learning, concentration, and perception to problems, language, and behavior. These difficulties usually arise due to various problems like behavioural problems, psychiatric disorders, emotional problems, physical disorders, and learning disorders. Children with such kind of disorders usually require additional services and accommodations with the least restrictive environment from their educational institute in order to support their ability to receive regular education in schools. Three Federal Laws have been applied in America related to education for disabled students. These include,
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1975
- The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990
It is important for the parents to know about these laws and related regulations, according to their particular region; since, states set different criterion of eligibility, services availability, and procedures in regard of implementation of these laws.
In recent times, rapid increase has been observed of the ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity in American schools. Large number of disabilities and developmental delay cases have also been counted. This diverse composition of students has brought great challenges as well as opportunities for educators. However, it requires support of families, colleagues, teachers, and administrators implement effective practices that could contribute in building classrooms responsive to the diverse needs of all students.
504 Educational Plans
Only those students can qualify for the 504 educational plans who have mental or physical impairments; one that affects the ability of students to walk, breathe, communicate, hear, see, stand, work, read, think, learn, or concentrate. In order to accommodate such students, schools provide different services and facilities, e.g. Preferential seating, visual, verbal or technology aids, adjusted class grading and schedules, physical or occupational therapy, audio-video materials, modified textbooks, and reduced classwork or homework.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a program that provides special educational services to public school disabled students. It is specially designed for each student and is truly an individualized document. It is derived from Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA). It provides an opportunity for parents, teachers, and school administrators to work together and improve the skills and educational results of disabled students. For creating an effective IEP document, students, parents, school teachers and staff members come together to analyse the unique needs of the student. First, the eligibility is decided and then the student is closely evaluated for the provision of specific services.
According to this law, it is necessary to include information related to child and the specific educational program that best meets the needs of the student. It mainly includes, annual goals, current performance, special education, related services, and participation in different tests, accommodation, required transition services, and measured progress.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were proposed in 1990, which requires that disabled people should be provided equal access to public services and programs. As per the civil rights law, none of the qualified student can be expelled or excluded from participation in programs or be denied to avail any specific services, solely on the basis of being disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures the implementation of Section 504 and extends them to communications, employment practices, and other related issues that can influence the treatment with disabled people.
It is the responsibility of any institute or school to ensure the accessibility of programs and services for the disabled students. For example, the school cannot deny providing an excess of educational program to a disabled student who uses wheelchair for the reason that, the school does not have an elevator. Similarly, disabled students have equal rights to take part in athletic programs, extracurricular offerings, and student services .
These programs and laws provide opportunities for disabled students to be educated up to the level of normal students by offering educational aids, services, and accommodations they may require. If students are unable to achieve expected results with any specific educational program, then alternative plan is considered. In comparison to 504 educational plans that are implemented in a regular classroom setting, IEP is applied in a special educational setting. For an IEP program, parental involvement and approval is required. However, in case of 504 plan full parental participation is required for the success of the student in his/ her academic career .
How to Control Minority or Disabled Students
A student may experience any disability or learning disorder that requires special services and programs to adjust in the regular educational environment. However, some students may clearly show up their physical disability, but in the case of psychiatric or other disability, it is important to evaluate the performance and behaviour of a student.
Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
In case of Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, the student usually creates, trouble in the class, and do not listen to the teacher. However, other students may also show up the similar kind of behaviour, but those with the ADHD disorder shows more frequently. As according to research, it was found that about 3-5% of the students at schools show up ADHD. It usually starts before the age of seven and continues until adulthood. Some common behaviours of ADHD students are,
- Trouble listening
- Easily distracted
- Trouble paying attention
- Blurts out answers
- Trouble finishing classwork and homework
- Wandering around the class
- Talks too much
Child with Autism
Children who experience autism usually do not interact with others. They remain in their own world; show up certain odd and peculiar behaviour, lack of social awareness, and interest in others. Autism is usually recognized by the time when the child is 30 months old. It is the age when the child should interact with the world, cuddle, talk, and avoid interaction with others. Autism severity varies from mild to severe. Students who experience autism usually find it difficult to adjust with the certain school environment. There is no such treatment of autism, but it is suggested to make an overall reduction in disruptive symptoms and behaviours.
As like ADHD, children with autism also need comprehensive evaluation and specialized educational and behavioural programs. Appropriate treatment plan is designed by teachers, administrators, and family. Such treatment plans are mainly focused on helping a child to cope with the stress and provide him with the positive environment so that he can develop the skills and abilities .
Children with Learning Disorders
Children with a learning disorder usually have the normal intelligence, but they are weak in specific learning. Even if such student puts up extra efforts to follow instructions, learn, be good at home and school, and concentrate, still they are unable to master in school tasks. A learning disorder is found in every one student out of ten students in the class. This disorder is usually caused due to problems with the nervous system or it may travel from one generation to another. It affects them in receiving, communicating, and processing information. Some students who are learning students show symptoms of hyperactivity. They can easily be distracted, unable to sit still, and have a short attention span. Moreover, such students also usually fail to distinguish between the right and left, or are unable to identify words or numbers with reverse letters like 25 with 52, on with no, and b with d. They usually misplace schoolbooks, homework, and other items. There are a number of such symptoms that are found students with learning disability.
It is important to treat such student early at an age, because if not identified or treated, the learning disorder can aggravate. It can show up snowballing effect. Moreover, if a student is unable to understand certain basic concepts at an early age, then he/she would not be able to learn advanced concepts in higher classes. In order to treat this disorder, psychiatrist and school professionals evaluate and takes educational testing to clarify learning disorder in the student. They talk to the child and his/her family and then evaluates the situation, reviews educational testing, and consult with the school. The psychiatrist then suggests the proper method to treat the student with learning disorders. Appropriate school placement is also recommended to the school. In addition, medication is also provided to deal with the distractibility and hyperactivity. However, the focus is on the school environment that could provide better opportunities and suitable conditions to learn.
Process of Treating Disabled Students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
After initial evaluation and formulation of cumulative file, a transition plan is proposed. This plan details, how a student will proceed in high school. This plan is based on cumulative reports and other progressive reports. Appropriate private placement and treatment is suggested for the student after close evaluation and analysis. Disabled students are provided with the least restrictive environment so that their skills and abilities can be polished and weaknesses can be controlled. However, this private placement is verified through different methods before implementation to ensure if the student actually needs the same treatment or else .
Federal regulation also added certain new rules and laws related to assistive technology in later years. According to the latest rules, school district was held responsible for providing the assistive technology services and devices to the disabled students. It must also describe in the individualized educational program (IEP) that, what specific technology devices and services are required and provided to the disabled students to bring them at the level of regular education. There are various other federal laws that support assistive technology. These include Social Security Act, Fair Housing Amendment of 1988, Mentally III Bill or Rights Act and the Developmentally Disabled Bill of Rights Act, and Architectural Barriers Act .
If School District does not follow Section 504 or IDEA?
Schools have various purposes, and each purpose has its own advocacy or constituency group. These advocacy groups also affect the organization and goals of the schools. Moreover, they also face certain dilemmas that further complicate organizational goals and structure. Since, federal and state laws force schools to provide solutions for the various problems that includes disability, poverty, fraying of civic culture, and illness of students. Schools and colleges are responsible to provide such students a positive environment and proper attention to ensure their academic success. However, if schools and colleges refuse to follow the laws related to disabled students then it would affect their reputation .
Children experiencing disorders have right to be treated uniquely at schools and colleges as per the federal and state laws of US. Therefore, parents can advocate for their child if they feel, he, /she is not being treated as per the laws. In order to ensure that the disabled child receives proper attention, services, and facilities, parents should evaluate their child and if they are not satisfied, they can request copies of school district’s Section 504 Plan. It is important to study and put up for evidence, if a school district refuses to follow services. If the district school does not provide Section 504 Plan, then one can contact the US Department of Education Office for assistance related to civil rights. If the school district does not follow or refuses services under Section 504 or IDEA then one can challenge this decision in court .
Other Acts and Laws Related to Disabled Students
There are a number of events that changed the policies and systems of education in schools. It was due to rights and laws for the disabled students that forced schools to implement new policies and plans for the diverse group of students. During 1962, Edward Roberts sued the University of California, Berkeley to get an admission. He won the case and became the first student who had severe disabilities and considered as one who cannot attend the school. In 1971, US District Court, decided that disabled individuals in residential state schools have the right to receive proper treatment and realistic opportunity to improve their mental condition. They are not to be locked away in the custodial institutions and must be given education and treatment. Similarly, in 1972, the US District Court Mills v. Board of Education passed the law that none of the child, whether disabled or from another race is entitled to have free public education. In 1976, Higher Education Act further added services for the physically disabled students who enter into the college. In 1979, the Disability Rights and Education Fund was founded in Berkeley, California. It was considered as the America’s leading disability rights and legal advocacy centre.
In 1982, the Board of Education v. Rowley found that individualized decisions related to the unique needs of every student were made obligatory under the federal law. Any school that does not follow the rules related to disability would be considered as one violating federal law. These laws proposed a big challenge for the schools to provide a positive environment for all students, despite being from different minority groups. These Acts and laws changed the environment of schools and colleges and forced institutes to consider the importance of disabled students as well.
In 2002, Help America Vote Act (HAVA) became US law. According to this law, voting systems were to be made accessible for disabled people too. It included, providing special assistance for blind and other visually impaired voters. Similarly, other laws were passed relating to education standard at schools and colleges for the disabled students. In 2003, Blair Hornstein, who was a senior high school student, sued the school district to be called as the sole valedictorian and won the case. There are many other cases observed by the people who sued the institute and won the case of violating the laws related to disabled students. This history of cases has raised legal challenges related to educational discrimination on the basis of disability and races for schools and institutes; thus forcing them to consider the rights of disabled students.
Access STEM. (2002). Legal Issues. Retrieved from washington.edu: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/rr_legal.html
Bachrach, S. J. (2013, April). 504 Education Plans. Retrieved from Kids Health: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/504-plans.html#
Collins, H. (1998). Your Child.
Deloney, P., & Tompkins, R. (1994). The Legal Mandate: What is the School's Responsibility? Retrieved from SEDL: http://www.sedl.org/rural/seeds/assistivetech/info.html
Facts for Families. (2008, May). Children Who Can't Pay Attention/ Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder. Washington.
Heubert, J. P. (1997). Schools Without Rules? Charter Schools, Federal Disability Law, and the Paradoxes of Deregulation.
Stone, D. (1996). The Impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Legal Education and Academic Modifications for Disabled Law Students: An Empirical Study.
Understanding Special Education. (n.d.). Special Education Law The Indivduals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Retrieved from Understanding Special Education: http://www.understandingspecialeducation.com/special-education-law.html
Yell, M., Katsiyannas, A., & Shiner, J. (2011). The No Child Left Behind Act, Adequate Yearly Progress, and Students with Disabilities . Teaching Exceptional Children.