Skip to Content

Special Education

IDEA stands for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and is a federal statute that all states must follow. The purpose of IDEA is to “ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes a special education and related services designated to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living,” 20 U.S.C. §1400(d)(1)(A).

The Child Find Mandate

Inherent within the IDEA is the Child Find mandate. This federal mandate requires all school districts to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth to age 21, and applies to all students who reside within a state, including students who attend private school. This includes any child that is suspected of a having a disability, including children with passing grades who are “advancing from grade to grade,” 34 CFR §300.11(c), 20 USC §1414(a)(b) and (c), 34 CFR Part 300.

An initial evaluation to determine whether or not a child has a disability can be initiated by a parent, a state educational agency, or a local education agency. Parents should make their request for an evaluation in writing and should state all areas of suspected disability. The school district must fully evaluate all areas of the suspected disability.

Below are some of the primary categories of disability that are covered by the IDEA:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Speech and language impairment
  • Visual impairment (including blindness)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Hearing impairment (including deafness)
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability

IEP Plans

It is important for parents to be aware that the mere fact that your child has one of the above impairments is not enough to fall under the protection of the IDEA. It must be demonstrated that your child requires an individualized education program or plan that is designed to meet your child’s unique needs to provide them with an educational benefit. Related services are provided for students with IEPs and our services help enable your child to benefit from special education. These services include speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, parent training, counseling, transportation, and therapeutic recreation.

IEPs contain goals and objectives based on your child’s present levels of performance. The goals and objectives must be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and timebound. IEP progress reports are sent home at the same time grade reports are sent home and are important to measure your child’s progress. The IDEA has procedural and substantive safeguards for students and parents that you should familiarize yourself with to best advocate for your child’s educational rights. The IEP must be reviewed annually and updated. A parent/legal guardian can request a meeting — called a PPT in Connecticut and a CSE in New York — at any time and discuss the IEP to address concerns regarding your child. It is very important to be involved in your child’s education and to know and understand your child’s rights. Piper Paul Law is here to help guide you through this process.

Unilateral Placement

If you believe your child is failing in the public school or not receiving a free appropriate public education, your child may have the option of a private school placement paid for at district expense. There are many variables involved before a district is responsible for either a private day school or private residential school. Procedural and substantive violations of IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA are factors that must be considered in weighing your financial risk in an outplacement. Our firm is experienced in working with families who are considering outplacements and we welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your options.

We understand that you are trusting Piper Paul Law to handle your case and we take that trust to heart. Attorney Paul has extensive experience in helping parents with the development of IEP plans, securing unilateral placements, and addressing school district procedural and substantive violations of the IDEA. Piper Paul Law has assisted countless Connecticut families in achieving the best possible outcomes in securing a free and appropriate public education for their special needs child. Let us advocate for you and your family.


Piper Paul Law Firm Logo

500 Post Road East, Suite #239
Westport, CT 06880

Phone: (203) 280-1885 - Fax: (203) 285-3186
View Map for Directions

Twitter LinkedIn

    Information sent to Piper Paul Law through this website is not encrypted or secure. Communication sent through internet email does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between the sender and Piper Paul Law.