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Special-Education Rights and Parochial Schools
Q: My child, as well as the children of several friends, are ADHD/LD and attend a parochial school. They're not covered by IDEA because of this. Many of the teachers don't believe that children need to go to the resource room teacher for help, as this is a "crutch." They also don't believe that the service plan (IEP) needs to be followed. Since I teach at this school, my daughter isn't having a difficult time now, but I'm anticipating trouble. How can I make sure that our children get the help they need? Can we take legal action, if necessary, under 504?
A: If your child has been evaluated and mandated for special-education services and has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), she should be receiving those services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) holds that this is true even though children attend private or parochial schools. The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child by Attorney Lawrence M. Siegel is an excellent guide book that you might find useful.
In order to assure that your child is getting appropriate services, I would also contact one of the many parent advocacy groups for ADHD and LD for advice and support. You can try:
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) at 1-800-233-4050
Learning Disabilities Association of America at 1-888-300-6710
National Center for Learning Disabilities at 1-800-575-7373
You can get more information from them about your legal rights as well as a referral for professional help if you choose to go that route.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.