• Special Education Legislation

    The more you learn about your rights, the stronger you will be as an advocate for your child with special needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) is a federal law that provides a free appropriate public education for eligible children with disabilities, regardless of severity. Some students may qualify under another law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to receive accommodations and modifications. The No Child Left Behind Act, while not specifically written for children with disabilities, expects that higher educational standards be met for all children.  

    The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's provides resources to help families find the special education programs and supports they need.

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), sometimes called IDEA 2004, is the landmark education legislation that provides services and supports for eligible children with disabilities. Infants and toddlers, birth up to age 3, can receive assistance through early intervention services. Children ages 3 through age 21, who qualify for special education services, must receive a free appropriate public education regardless of the severity of their disability. An individualized education program, called an IEP, is written to address each child's special education needs. 

    Only certain disabilities are covered under IDEA including autism, cognitive disability (mental retardation), deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment including blindness, other health impairment.

    • Sample letter requesting evaluation for special education services.
    • LD Online has a sample letter requesting special education services from your school district.
    • NICHCY has sample letters in their online publication, Communicating with Your Child's School through Letter Writing.

    Learn more about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

    Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination because of a disability. It covers a wider range of disabilities than IDEA, including children with mental illness, ADD, orthopedic conditions, epilepsy, diabetes and cancer. If the disability substantially limits one or more major life activities, then Section 504 can provide modifications and accommodations through the development of a 504 Plan. In addition to public schools, Section 504 covers programs that receive federal financial assistance and can include private schools and colleges. Because it is a civil rights law, it protects individuals with disabilities from birth through adulthood.

    • Download a sample letter to request school accommodations under Section 504

    Learn more about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

    No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a federal law that makes sure that all children receive a high quality education. It was designed to raise academic standards and improve achievement for all public school children. The law emphasizes the use of teaching methods that have been proven to work and highly qualified teachers who have strong academic backgrounds and training in the area they teach. There are high expectations for all children, including children with disabilities, to learn and achieve.

    Read more about the No Child Left Behind Act.

    For many parents and health care providers, special education and support services is a new world of legal rights, testing, eligibility requirements and planning. It has a language all its own of unique abbreviations, acronyms and phrases.

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