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Rights & Regulations in Special Education

IDEA, Rule 51, 504 Plans and Child Find

courtesy NDE

Parents of a child with a disability have certain rights, which are guaranteed by federal and state laws.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that outlines rights and regulations for students with disabilities in the U.S.A.. who require special education. The law specifies how schools must provide or deny services, and how parents may press for these rights if necessary. Under IDEA, all children with disabilities are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least-Restrictive Environment (LRE), and some are entitled to Early Intervention (EI) and Extended School Year (ESY).

Rule 51 is the state law that governs rights and regulations. Generally, the law stipulates that the local board of education of every school district shall provide or contract for special education programs and transportation for all resident children with disabilities who would benefit from such programs.

Some children with disabilities who are not eligible for special education programs and related services under IDEA may be eligible for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This federal statute prohibits discrimination based upon a disability and applies to all programs and activities that receive federal money, including local schools districts and community-based programs like Head Start.

IDEA requires all states to have a "comprehensive Child Find system" to assure that all children who are in need of early intervention or special education services are located, identified, and referred. This requirement extends to children who are homeless, who are wards of the State or who are attending nonpublic schools -regardless of the severity of their disabilities.

Nebraska Child Find provides information to parents, school personnel, and service providers on child development and special education for children from birth (or date of diagnosis) to age 21.ChildFind also helps parents access information on rights and resources to help them advocate for an appropriate education for their child. NebraskaChildfind is part of the Early Development Network

ESU 2 has a team of services coordinators who work in schools and communities to assure that children who are in need of early intervention or special education services are identified and served appropriately. 

Additional helpful discussion may be found on the Nebraska Department of Education Office of Special Education website: http://www.education.ne.gov/sped

Nondiscrimination rights of disabled individuals are further explained in this Section 504 Fact Sheet , published by the U.S.. Department of Health and Human Services - Office for Civil Rights.