The Duke Children’s Law Clinic has produced a comprehensive Guide for parents of children with special education needs. The Guide explains the special education law in clear terms so that parents can learn the vocabulary, navigate the special education system, and become an effective advocate for their children. The Guide is especially geared to assist North Carolina parents.
The Guide contains 10 chapters, beginning with the broad concepts of the special education law and the important terms, then moving to specific topics. Readers can access the Guide by clicking the desired chapter on the list below, or by downloading the entire Guide to their own computer. The Frequently Asked Questions are answered orally as well as in the text. See the videos below to hear answers to common questions.
- Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 – A Little Bit of History and a Big Idea
- Chapter 2 – The Basic Promise of the IDEA
- Chapter 3 – Special Education Terms and Concepts
- Chapter 4 – Understanding Evaluations and Educational Testing
- Chapter 5 – Approaching IEPs and IEP Meetings
- Chapter 6 – School Discipline
- Chapter 7 – IDEA Dispute Resolution
- Chapter 8 – Special Education and Private School
- Chapter 9 – Frequently Asked Questions
- Chapter 10 –Sample Letters to School
- Glossary and Acronyms
- Other Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Chapter 9 of the Guide provides answers to frequently asked questions about special education in North Carolina. The questions, which are divided into six groups, are also answered in the videos below. Click the play buttons to watch each grouping in its entirety, or use the links to jump to individual answers.
Eligibility for Special Education
- How do I know if my child is eligible for special education?
- How can I get special education for my child?
- Can my preschool age child be evaluated for and provided special education?
- Is my child entitled to special education if he attends a charter school?
- What are the basic requirements for a child to get special education?
- What does it mean for a disability to have an “adverse impact on the student’s education”?
- What does it mean that the student must require “specially designed instruction”?
- Do classroom interventions have to be finished before a child can be evaluated for special education?
- What does the term “discrepancy” refer to?
- What if I think the evaluation done by the school is wrong?
- Does my child’s disability label determine what special education services she is entitled to?
- Is my child limited to having only one category of eligibility listed on his IEP?
- Does a doctor’s diagnosis determine my child’s category for special education purposes?
- Does my child have to fail a grade or his classes to be eligible for special education?
- Can my child get special education to address only non-academic needs, such as behavior, organization, or daily living skills?
- Does my child’s condition have to be permanent for her to be eligible for an IEP?
- Once my child has qualified for special education, will he continue to get the services throughout his time in school?
- If my child remains disabled, how long can she continue to get special education?
Special Education Services and IEPs
- If my child is determined eligible for special education, what does she get?
- How are IEPs developed? Who are the required members of an IEP team?
- How do I know if my child has a good IEP?
- What if I don’t think the IEP is maximizing my child’s potential?
- How are annual goals measured?
- Are my views on my child’s progress taken into account?
- What should I do if my child comes home from school and says she is not getting a service on her IEP?
- What should I do when the school says that it does not have enough money to give my child the services that my child needs?
- What if the school has not hired enough trained special education teachers or aides and thus can’t meet my child’s needs?
- May my child lose a part of the school day due to special transportation needs?
- Why are there no special education teachers that provide inclusion or pull- out services for science and social studies?
Least Restrictive Environment and Placement Issues
- What is the “Least Restrictive Environment”?
- What does it mean for my child to be categorized as “regular,” “resource,” or “separate” on his IEP?
- Is the “resource classroom” available only to students who are below grade level?
- What is “homebound” (also called home/hospital) and when can my child be placed there?
- Can a “homebound” setting be used when my child is suspended from school?
- If my child is put in a “homebound” setting, how many hours of instruction should she get?
- Is it legal for the principal or the IEP Team to require that I pick up my child early every day?
- If my child’s school does not have an appropriate placement for him, can I ask to have him moved to another school in the district with an appropriate placement?
Accommodations, Modifications, Supplementary Aids and Services, and Related Services
- What does the term “accommodations” refer to?
- What accommodations are allowed on standardized tests?
- What does the term “modifications” refer to?
- What are alternate assessments?
- Who decides if a modified curriculum such as the Occupational Course of Study or the Extended Content Standards will be used?
- What are “supplementary aids and services”?
- What are “related services?”
- If the school can’t or won’t pay for extra services for my child, like the services of a personal aide, can I provide funding so that my child gets what he needs?
- Can I get a draft of the IEP before the actual IEP meeting?
- How many IEP meetings can I have in a year?
- Can I record my child’s IEP meetings?
- Can IEP meetings be limited to a certain amount of time?
- How much notice of an IEP meeting should I get?
- What if the IEP meeting is scheduled at a time that I cannot attend?
- May I call an IEP meeting when I think one is needed?
- Can someone else act for the parent if the parent is unable or unavailable to made education decisions?
- What happens when my child turns 18?
- If my child has an IEP, can she still be suspended?
- What happens if my special education child is recommended for a suspension of more than ten days?
- What is a “Manifestation Determination Review” or “MDR”?
- What happens if my child’s conduct is found to be a “manifestation” of his disability at an MDR?
- What happens if my child’s conduct is found not to be a “manifestation” of his disability?
- What is a “functional behavioral assessment” or “FBA”?
- When should a functional behavioral assessment be conducted?
- What is a “behavioral intervention plan” or “BIP” and when should it be used?
- What should I do if my child is repeatedly getting sent home early?
- Can my child be charged with a criminal offense for something he does at school?