Accommodations and Unequal Access Claims for Tennessee Children and Families

Tennessee education lawyers assert the rights of all children to a quality education in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson

Children with disabilities are entitled to a multitude of benefits to make learning easier. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted to ensure all children with disabilities get a public education that is free and that meets their unique needs. Other laws, such as the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), also help make sure children have access to the accommodations they need to get a good education.

At Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt, PLC, our Tennessee equal access attorneys explain the legal options are available for children with disabilities. We understand that parents want their child to get the best education possible, especially when their child has special needs. Public schools have a duty to properly address specialized needs so children have the best opportunity to learn. Our attorneys hold schools accountable.

The key provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The IDEA is the main law that protects children with special needs. Our Tennessee equal access lawyers are prepared to help you understand the various provisions of the Act and how the Act can help your child.

  • Part A. This section provides the general explanations and terms for the law. It also creates the Office of Special Education Programs, which helps to administer the law.
  • Part B. This section sets forth the requirements that school districts must meet in order to receive federal funding. The six main requirements are:
    • To provide a free and appropriate public education to every child between three and twenty-one, or a high school education if a disability is suspected. Each student is entitled to get an evaluation as to the impact of the disability on his or her ability to learn.
    • To form an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with specific action steps for all education participants to take on behalf of the child.
    • To provide the child with education services in the least restrictive setting. Where possible, disabled students should work with non-disabled students.
    • To solicit input from the child and parents.
    • To establish the right for parents to challenge the treatment of the child.
  • Part C. The provisions of part C establish guidelines for disabled children from birth through age two. The guidelines include early identification and intervention services. This includes creating an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and giving families the right to participate in forming the IFSP.
  • Part D. This section describes national planning, including grants, transitional services, and support programs.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

This law was enacted in 1990 to prevent discrimination against the disabled. Unlike the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it also mandates that employers provide suitable and reasonable accommodations to employees who are disabled and it requires that public places be made accessible to all. A disability does not need to be permanent to qualify for protection. Disabilities include deafness, blindness, diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, missing or incomplete limbs, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, and many other conditions.

The right to suitable and reasonable accommodations is not limited to children. A school district must offer reasonable accommodations for all employees with a known physical or mental disability – unless providing the accommodation would create an undue hardship. Public transportation to and from the school must also be accessible. Employees are required to work with their employer to determine what reasonable accommodations are necessary to the performance of the job.

Some examples of suitable accommodations include making entry and movement about the school accessible, modified work schedules, obtaining necessary equipment or devices, and job training.

Remedies for violation of the ADA include injunctive relief, ordering the school to comply, and legal fees. Schools that do not comply may be in danger of losing federal funding.

Passionate Tennessee attorneys protect your child’s right to access and reasonable accommodations

The Gilbert Firm fights for children, families, and employees of Tennessee school systems. To review your case with an experienced Tennessee equal access lawyer, please call 888.354.FIRM (3476) or complete our contact form. Our attorneys serve clients in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, and across Tennessee.