I am a parent of a child who has just been found
eligible for special education services. When I talk with other
parents of special education students and with school officials they
are always talking about the "law and rules". What laws and rules are
they referring to? How do I become familiar with them?
See Part II Below; also
see last week’s posting for PART I - OVERVIEW
- FEDERAL ROLE
Federal – the US Constitution
grants to all public students and staff (with some limitations) a
number of fundamental civil rights. Those rights are contained in the
first 10 Amendments to the Constitution (e.g. the Bill of Rights).
Such rights address free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of
association, freedom to free from illegal searches, a right to due
process of law, etc. In addition, as noted above, Congress creates
laws to spend taxpayer monies or to regulate public conduct.
Once passed by Congress (and signed by the President)
public laws are codified (organized) according to topic into one of
the sections of the United States Code (U.S.C.). For example,
IDEA, which is Public Law 105-37 (105th law – 37th
Congress) is “codified” and found at 20 U.S.C., Chapter 33 (Education)
starting at Section 1400 and continuing for some 50 sections. In
legal terms, the way of referencing where the exact language that
Congress passed can be found is called its “legal cite”. For example,
the section of IDEA that details the due process rights (procedural
safeguards) can be found at 20 U.S.C. 1415.
http://www.ideapractices.org/law/index.php. Once a law is
codified and placed in the United States Code, it is generally
referred to as a statute.
Once passed by Congress and signed into law, the
federal Department of Education is assigned the responsibility of
creating regulations (rules) to uniformly apply the new law in all
states. To do this, the Department drafts proposed regulations and
then holds public hearings to solicit public comments. Once the final
regulations are adopted, they have the force of law and all public
schools must follow them. Those explanatory regulations are found in
the Code of Federal Regulations (cited as C.F.R.). For
example, regulations interpreting IDEA are found at 34 CFR Part 300.
NOTE: I recommend that any parent of a disabled
student read Appendix A of the regulations as it contains a set of
commonly asked questions and answers that address some common issues
that frequently arise.
Hope this helps your understanding;
John Brower, JD
Education Law Center, PLLC
NOTE: Next week, Part III – State Role
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