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Parents Rights and Responsibilities

As a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in special education you have specific rights and responsibilities regarding access to information, providing information, and making decisions about your child's education.

Compliments of Diagnostic Center, Northern California, 39100 Gallaudet Drive, Fremont, Ca 94538, (510) 794-2500, Fax (510) 794-2513.

Your Child's Basic Rights

State and federal laws entitle students with special needs to a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.  

To Insure Your Child's Basic Rights

You have the right to receive notice:
  • in writing
  • in your native language, if you are limited or non-English speaking
  • in your principal mode of communication such as sign language
  • in language easily understood by the public.

Your school district must send you notice:

  • before proposed assessments are conducted
  • before all individual education program (IEP) meetings
  • before any action is recommended or taken that may change your child's special education program
  • if the school district plans to use the services of an attorney for a mediation conference or a state hearing.

Parents must observe same requirements.

If you have a complaint, contact the Quality Assurance Unit at (916) 445-4632, California Department of Education, Special Education Division.

You Have the Right to Have Your Child Placed in the Least Restrictive Environment

This means that you have the right:
  • to have the full continuum of alternative services provided by your school district so that the most appropriate environment will be available to your child
  • to participate in the development of the IEP which meets your child’s needs as identified by the assessment
  • to have your child educated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent appropriate to both, including non-academic extracurricular services and activities
  • to have your child removed from the regular educational environment only when supplemental aids and services have been tried and found unsatisfactory
  • to have your child placed in his/her regular school of attendance unless the IEP requires some other arrangement.

You Have the Right to Due Process

When you have an unresolved disagreement with the school district regarding any decision related to your child's identification, assessment, placement or the provision of a free appropriate public education, you have the right to request an impartial and fair hearing conducted by a person appointed by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. (Office of Administrative Law (916) 739-1053.)

You or the district may request that resolution of your disagreement be attempted through the mediation process. Your district or the California Department of Education maintains a list of qualified mediators. Results are confidential.

It is strongly recommended that you first try to resolve the issues at an informal meeting between you and the district. You may have an advocate or lawyer with you.

Process Hearing Procedures

Mediation Conference
As part of the fair hearing process a mediation conference is held within 15 calendar days of the written request. The conference is held before a state mediator who either resolves the disagreement or defines the issues for the administrative hearing officer.

Administrative Hearing
The administrative hearing is held within the next 30 calendar days before a state administrative hearing officer.

Within 45 days from the time your initial written request for a hearing is received by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction you must receive written findings of fact and decisions.

Where is Your Child During A Hearing?

Your child shall remain in his/her present educational placement during any due process proceeding unless you and the school agree otherwise.

You Have Rights Concerning Confidentiality

All information regarding all students is confidential by law. Your child's records can be made available only to: you, School staff, persons who have your written consent, student age 16 or who has completed the tenth grade, personnel of agencies specified by law.

You Have Rights Regarding Your Child's Records

You have the right:
  • to know where your child's records are kept
  • to review your child's records
  • to receive copies of your child's records on request (may be nominal charge)
  • to receive an explanation of their content
  • to be notified and give consent before any personally identifiable information in your child's file is destroyed or removed
  • to a hearing if you and your school district disagree on correction or removal of information from your child's record
  • to be informed on a regular basis (i.e. report card) of your child’s progress.

Your Informed Written Consent is Necessary

Your school district must have your informed written consent:
  • before any formal assessment (evaluation) of your child is attempted
  • before placement of your child in a special education program
  • before removal of your child from a special education program

"Informed" means that you must be given all information relevant to the action in question and be provided opportunity to have it explained.

You Have Rights Regarding Assessment Procedures

You have a right to a full and individual assessment (evaluation) of your child which:
  • does not discriminate against your child for any reason
  • considers the nature of your child's disability
  • uses the results of more than one test for determining the appropriate program
  • assesses all areas related to the suspected disability
  • is provided by a multi-disciplinary team.

Your district must re-evaluate your child at least every three (3) years. Upon request from you or school personnel, re-evaluation may take place more often if conditions have changed.

Before any formal assessment of your child may take place you must

  • be given all relevant information about why the district is requesting to assess your child
  • be informed of the proposed manner of the assessment
  • provide your written consent.

If you disagree with the findings:

If you disagree with district’s findings or when requested by a hearing officer an independent evaluation will be provided at district expense. You district will
  • inform you of where and how to obtain an independent assessment for your child
  • consider the information from the independent assessment in developing the IEP
  • pay for the independent assessment unless the school district initiates a fair hearing which determines that the district's assessment was appropriate

You Have Rights Regarding the IEP Process

You have the right:
  • to be part of the team that develops the IEP for your child
  • to receive all information regarding your child's program
  • to be told what information will be used as basis for deciding your child's program
  • to receive a full description and explanation of all possible placements
  • to be accompanied by another person (or persons) to all meetings.

The IEP must:

  • include present level of performance
  • describe how disability affects performance in general education
  • explain the extent to which the student will not participate in general education
  • explain any exclusion from state or district testing
  • address the support needed to succeed in general education
  • describe the method to measure student progress
  • describe the frequency and location of services
  • describe Transition services (students 14 year and older).

You Have Responsibilities as a Parent or Guardian

Along with your rights to be involved in the decisions concerning your child's education and with the legal safeguards to protect your child, you also have some basic responsibilities:
  • Become informed! Ask for clear, correct information about your child. Ask to have it written down in layman's terms. Bring it home to share with the family. Become involved!
  • Share specific information about your child to show his/her growth and experiences.
  • Keep a notebook or file of your child's history
  • Become your child's advocate; a champion for his/her needs.
  • Meet and talk with the school people who serve your child.
  • Ask teachers how you can use your knowledge to help your child and them.
  • When a meeting is scheduled be on time. If the time is not convenient for you request other arrangements.
  • Prepare your child to advocate for him/her self and transfer your rights to him/her when he/she reaches 18.

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