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Serving the needs of the educationally challenged

The federal government requires that all children -- including those with cognitive deficits -- receive equal access to education. This means that, for children with special educational needs, the local school districts must provide special services to meet those needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governs how the needs of these children must be met.

One of the most important parts of IDEA involves the creation of free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for children. If a student who is between 3 and 21 years of age has a disability that could impact his or her learning capacity, educators must create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the student. The IEP will identify specific steps that must be carried out by teachers, the students and their parents for the purpose of achieving the identified educational goals of the child.

The IEP must be pursued and followed up with regular evaluations to determine if the educational goals have indeed been met. If adjustments are required in the face of challenges, then appropriate adjustments should be made.

Some Rhode Island parents might feel that the IEP created for their child is insufficient to meet his or her needs. Alternatively, parents might feel that their child has not received sufficient services required under IDEA. If your child is not receiving the level of education that he or she has a right to receive under federal law, you can challenge the way your local educators are handling your child's schooling. A special education attorney in Rhode Island can help you to appropriately assert your child's legal rights in court.

Source: American Psychological Association, "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)," accessed May 26, 2017

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