There are specific services and supports available to children with disabilities and their families.
Children who are verified as eligible for special education services have the legal right under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Nebraska education Rule 51 to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is developed by the IEP team which includes all pertinent education professionals the child’s parents. Parents are considered an equal member of the team. The IEP provides specific educational guidance to promote the child’s access to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). In addition, it provides for related services necessary which allows the child to access FAPE. The IEP is developed based on data and observations regarding the child’s development as identified by the IEP team. The IEP is updated annually and for most, a six-month review is held. However, families can request an IEP at any time. In addition, the location of the school services is a component of the IEP given that children in special education have the right to services in the least restrictive setting.
Sometimes a child may have a disability but not be eligible for services under IDEA. In this case, the child would likely be eligible for a 504 Plan. The 504 is a document that identifies accommodations the child might need in order to be successful and receive FAPE. For example, students with disabilities might need more time to take a test or may require a service dog to help notify them of an upcoming seizure (epilepsy) or a low blood sugar (diabetes). Many children that have ADHD, Type I diabetes and epilepsy would likely be eligible for a 504 plan.
Parents Rights within special education
Parents have specific rights related to the education of their child with a disability. These rights include being a partner in the decisions of the IEP or 504 team, having appropriate prior notice, knowledge of a grievance process and alternative testing. The Nebraska Department of Education describes these rights in the document below.
- Parents rights within special education Parents have specific rights related to the education of their child with a disability. These rights include being a partner in the decisions of the IEP or 504 team, having appropriate prior notice, knowledge of a grievance process and alternative testing.
- ChildFind Nebraska ChildFind provides information to parents, school personnel, and service providers on child development and special education for children from birth (or date of diagnosis) to age 21. ChildFind also helps parents access information on rights and resources to help them advocate for an appropriate education for their child.
- Extended School Year Services Information about special education and related services provided for children with disabilities during periods when school is not in session.
- Nebraska’s guide for families who place children with disabilities in non-public schools Document provides information about the public school’s requirements of Childfind and the provisions of a FAPE in relation to students who are attending a non-public school.
Advocacy Information and Support
- PTI Nebraska Every state has a Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center that receives federal funding from the Office of Special Education Programs to help families who have children with disabilities understand their rights within schools. PTI-Nebraska is the state’s Parent Training and Information Center. Staff there are parents of children with disabilities who teach other families their rights within schools and also help to empower other families by increasing their knowledge and capacity to improve the education outcomes for their child or children.
- Native American Parent Training and Information Center
- Military Branch Parent Training and Information Center
- Concord Mediation Center Parents and school personnel have the opportunity to discuss matters related to the special education of a child with a trained mediator. Issues may be classification of the disability, transportation, methodology or placement. Referrals can come from either the parents or the school.
- Disability Rights Nebraska Disability Rights Nebraska's website provides special education fact sheets ranging from basic information to laying out the steps of how to file a complaint with the Nebraska Department of Education or Office of Civil Rights. Templates are available for specific requests to schools.
- Office of Civil Rights This federal office helps to protect the rights of all individuals with disabilities, including those in school. Individuals and families who feel that they have experienced discrimination can contact the Office of Civil Rights and file a complaint.
- Wrightslaw This is a clearinghouse of information related to special education law and advocacy information for children with disabilities and their families. It offers up-to-date information about special education cases, new regulations and rules.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) This provides an overview of the federal law (IDEA) that requires children with disabilities to have special rights in schools.
Nebraska Special Education Documents
- Nebraska Department of Education: Rules, Regulation and in Special Education
- Nebraska Rule 51 provides information about Nebraska’s special education program.
- Nebraska Rule 52 provides information about Nebraska’s birth-three early intervention program.
- Nebraska Rule 55 provides information about Nebraska’s rules and regulations regarding special education due-process hearings in contested cases.
- Nebraska Rule 59