Have you ever wondered why special education laws and procedures exist? Are you concerned that there could be laws you don’t even know about, yet should be following? The provision of special education to students with disabilities is not only a complex and individualized process involving many stakeholders, but it is also a practice that is governed by federal and state laws.
A national survey found that because the vast majority of American teachers have not taken a course in school law, teachers are uninformed or misinformed about their basic legal rights and responsibilities and those of their students. Because of the confusion around special education law, educators may unintentionally violate students’ rights or otherwise fail to carry out legal responsibilities (Schimmel & Militello, 2007).
This year, my series of articles in the Earlywood Special Edition will be written to build your legal literacy. Building the legal literacy of school personnel was one of my research findings related to proactive actions taken to prevent special education litigation (Balsley, 2018). I will draw heavily from the work of Dr. Janet Decker, J.D., IU Education Law Professor and co-author of How To Prevent Special Education Litigation: Eight Legal Lesson Plans (Umpstead, Decker, Brady, Schimmel, & Militello, 2015). Stay tuned and feel free to reach out to me with follow-up questions!