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Individuals with Disabilities FAQ

What is IDEA?

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) is an Act that addresses the needs of children with disabilities. It provides funds and resources so children with disabilities are able to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). At public expense, each child will receive a free education in preschool, elementary school, or secondary school.

How does IDEA help children with disabilities?

This Act requires states develop a program that provides services for children with disabilities on the local level. Each disabled child will receive resources necessary for a public education. The LEA (Local Education Agency) will provide transportation, special books, interpreters, special equipment, etc. CART services are certainly an appropriate means of making education accessible to chldren and youth who are deaf or hard of hearing.

What is the definition of a disability under this law?

A disability is defined under CFR 34 § 300.7 as having "mental retardation, a hearing impairment including deafness, a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment including blindness, serious emotional disturbance (hereafter referred to as emotional disturbance), an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, an other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related services." After it has been determine that the child has a disability, the parent(s) and the LEA will set up an IEP (Individual Education Program).

How does an IEP work?

If a child is suspected of having a disability, he or she must be evaluated by a public agency in accordance with CFR 34 §300.530-300.536. After it has been determined that the child has a disability, the parent(s) and the LEA will set an IEP team. The team will include:

 

  1. parent(s),
  2. at least one regular education teacher of the child,
  3. a representative of the public agency,
  4. an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, and
  5. at the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel, and if appropriate the child.

This team will determine the child's:

 

  1. present levels of educational performance,
  2. measurable annual goals, including benchmarks,
  3. what services that are provided to the disabled child,
  4. the activities that the disabled will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class,
  5. the date in which the services will be provide along with frequency, location, and duration of the services, and
  6. the progress of the disabled child and how the parent(s) will be informed regularly.

When the team has determined that the child will receive Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), the IEP should include the following specifics regarding the provision of this service:

 

  1. Communication Access Realtime Translation (also known as Computer Assisted Realtime Transcription) will be provided by a realtime court reporter who can write at a minimum speed of 225 words per minute.
  2. An electronic copy of the notes will be given to the student immediately after each class so the student can make his or her own notes at home.
  3. Same-day substitutes will be provided when needed.
  4. The student will be allowed to follow the CART feed on a laptop computer on his or her desk.

Does each state provide the same services for disabled children?

According to the law, each state must provide services for publicly educated disabled children. The services for the individual children will be different. This Act does let each state administer their program differently as long as they provide disabled children with the services they need.

When does the state need informed parental consent?

Under CFR 34 §300.505, a LEA does not need informed parental consent before (a) "reviewing existing data as part of an evaluation or a reevaluation"; or (b) "administering a test or other evaluation that is administered to all children unless, before administration of that test or evaluation, consent is required of parents of all children." If the parent(s) refuse consent, then the state "may continue to pursue those evaluations by using the due process procedures under [CFR 34] §300.507-300.509, or the mediation procedures under [CFR 34] §300.506." Informed parental consent is not required for reevaluation if the public agency has taken reasonable measures to obtain consent. Parental consent is required before "conducting an initial evaluation or reevaluation; and initial provision of special education and related services to a child with a disability."

Are disabled student's records confidential?

Yes. Only people involved with the child's education has access to their records. "Each participating agency shall keep a record of parties obtaining access to education records… (except access by parents and authorized employees of the participating agency), including the name of the party, the date access was given, and the purpose for which the party is authorized to use the records" (CFR 34 §300.563).

If a parent enrolls a disabled child into a private school, can the child receive services from LEA?

The LEA is not required to provide a disabled child with an IEP and the child is not eligible for special education and related services, if the child is enrolled in a private school by the parent. Under CFR 34 §300.454 "(1) No private school child with a disability has an individual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services that the child would receive if enrolled in a public school." But LEA's are not prohibited from providing services to disabled children in parental placement private schools. CFR §300.453 "State and local educational agencies are not prohibited from providing services to private school children with disabilities… consistent with State law or local policy." Individual states can specify what services the LEA can provide to disabled children enrolled in parental placement private schools.

Who administers IDEA?

The Local Education Agency administers IDEA. The state and federal governments have basic requirements for the program, but the LEA have broad powers. State government provides 75% of the funding while the federal governments provides 25% of the funding.

If a parent(s) is not satisfied with their child's IEP, what recourse do they have?

Parent(s) can request an impartial mediator (CFR 34 §300.506). The state has a list of qualified mediators that are knowledgeable of the laws and regulations of special education. Mediation is confidential and can not be used in any process hearings or civil proceedings. If the parent(s) are not satisfied with the mediation, they can initiate process hearing (CFR 34 §300.507). The hearing officer may not have personal or professional interest in the case. If the hearing officer rules against the parent(s), then they may appeal the decision to the SEA (State Education Agency)(CFR 34 §300.510). A reviewing officer then makes the judgement. As a last resort, the parent(s) can bring a civil lawsuit against the LEA.