Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Protecting the Legal and Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities
|Protect Due Process Rights|
Quality Education for America’s Children with Disabilities: The Need to Protect Due Process Rights
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed by Congress to ensure that all children with disabilities are provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The IDEA confers rights and remedies designed to ensure that each child has an individualized program of services, modifications, accommodations and supports that enable them to learn and succeed. Parents’ right to be equal partners with the school system is a key feature of the law; safeguarded by the right to file for an impartial due process hearing. A due process hearing occurs when disputes regarding a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) cannot be resolved through mediation.
In early 2013, the School Superintendents Association (AASA) published a paper, Rethinking Special Education Due Process proposing to eliminate due process from IDEA. In response, COPAA issued a statement to rebut the shameful attack by our nation's school administrators for issuing an irresponsible, sweepingly generalized and unsubstantiated document that undermines and attacks the civil rights of students with disabilities and their parents. For over 40 years Congress has maintained the important role that parents play in their child's education. In 2004, Congress wisely added new language to the purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) strengthening the role and responsibility of parents to ensure that families of such children have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children. 20 U.S.C. §1400(c)(5)(B). (see full statement here)
COPAA rejects any assertion that due process should be eliminated in IDEA. Instead we urge that time and attention be focuses on the fidelity of implementation and fully funding of the IDEA. We also propose reforms to the existing due process system to protect parent participation and the right to due process and to make the hearing process more accessible and effective for protecting the rights of all children with disabilities.
Preserving and Strengthening the Due Process Protections:
Fostering Meaningful Parental Participation in the IEP Process:
1. Allow parents to observe their child’s education in progress;
While we know we can: improve the IEP meeting process; improve and strengthen the due process protections; and, provide both school personnel and parents better tools to make decisions in support of children with disabilities, COPAA asserts that we must look at the entire system in order to truly improve results for children. The entire due process system is essential to ensure that the civil and constitutional rights of children with disabilities are protected so that the promise of the IDEA can be fully realized and the country can benefit from the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and in society.
When the IDEA works as Congress intended, the results are transformative for students with disabilities. As a result of receiving an appropriate education, millions of students are able to graduate high school, access further education and employment, contribute to this country’s economic growth, and live independent, productive lives. But, without a direct mechanism to enforce it, the IDEA cannot work.
It is important for Congress to legislatively fix the following Supreme Court decisions in order to protect and strengthen due process hearing rights so parents are on an even playing field and children with disabilities may receive the free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to which they are entitled. Click on the links below to learn more:
6/1/2016 » 6/1/2017
Webinar Subscription for Organizations
6/1/2016 » 6/1/2017
Webinar Subscription for Individuals
7/14/2016 » 7/14/2017
2016 Webinar Series 1: IEP's and Their Components, What You Should Know
8/11/2016 » 10/1/2016
2016 Webinar Series 2: Access to FAPE
9/1/2016 » 12/1/2016
2016 New Attorney: Educational Rights Online Training