Disabled and Regular Learners in Public and Private Schools

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is another legal provision that accords certain rights to students in regards to their education records. The law provides for the rights to inspect and review the education records, the authority to seek amendments of the records, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information contained in those records. [FERPA (1974), 20 U. S. C. 1232g] It gives special needs students’ protection against biasness in the preparation of their educational records and disclosure of information contained in those records.

Both the IDEA and NCLB provides for the federal funding of the public schools that partakes of accommodating learners with disabilities by providing Least Restrictive Environments (LRE). These funds are made available to all states that take part in the provision of minimum policies and procedures specified in the IDEA in regards to education of children with disabilities. The funds are given to the schools on condition that they will develop an Individualized Educational program (IEP) for every student with a disability that fits the federal or states disability standards.

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The IEP must be made in a manner that provides the students with the necessary educational experiences that meets his or her needs. Further, the schools must provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to each disabled student regardless of the severity of disability under no cost. To achieve this, the school districts rely on the IDEA funds. This means that public schools in states or school districts that do not subscribe to the IDEA provisions for minimum policies are not eligible for the federal funds, however, all states have opted for the subscription to the requirements.

Similarly, private schools may not be eligible to the federal funds making them to charge extra fees for children with disabilities a practice that is against IDEA provisions. Students with disabilities who attend schools (public or private) that do not subscribe to the IDEA provisions cannot enjoy the legal privileges enjoyed by those attending IDEA-compliant schools since they may be forced to pay extra funds. Moreover, the signing into law of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 by President Bush provided funding for all public schools on condition that they administer state-wide standardized tests to all the learners.

Under the law schools are required to post good results every end of the year (Adequate Yearly Progress- AYP) in order to continue enjoying the funding. For those schools who do not meet the adequate yearly progress they are published in the local paper as ‘failing schools’ and the parents given the opportunity to transfer their children. If a school fails to meet the adequate yearly requirement for a second year, then they are required to provide specialized tutoring to their learners. If the problem persists for years then the schools are subject to reconstruction or even closure.

[Public Law No. 107-110] Again, the NCLB is only applicable to public schools; therefore the law is only applicable to those learners (with disabilities or without) in public schools and not in private schools. On the other hand it can be argued that there is no variance in regards to the education of the disabled learners against those who are not disabled whether in public, private schools or even care homes since the law provides that they should all enjoy the same educational ‘privileges’ where possible.

This argument is underscored by the IDEA clauses on the LRE whereby children with disabilities should be placed together in regular classrooms alongside other non-disabled learners with special classes or special environment created only in situations whereby the nature or severity of the disability hinders learning in regular classes even with the use of additional learning aids.

The use of LRE on disabled children is similar to the non-disabled children environment which can enhance academic success for children with disabilities relative to the specific goals of a particular child’s IEP. [Daniel R. R. v. State Board of Education, 874 F. 2D 1036 (5th cir. 1989]


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