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IDEA Practices Aren't Available to All Families, Study Finds

IDEA Practices Aren't Available to All Families, Study Finds

A recent survey found that families earning more than $100,000 a year are more likely to pursue litigation for special education services compared to those with incomes half that level.

Family income is a major factor when it comes to "whether parents will seek mediation or due process in special education disputes with their child’s school district", according to an article on DisabilityScoop.com. The findings published in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders "may point to fundamental inequities in the special education process, researchers said."

“That’s a huge problem, to see that parents who come from low-income backgrounds have less access to these safeguards,” said Meghan Burke of the University of Illinois who conducted the research in the article. “Due process and mediation are definitely last resorts for parents and schools to resolve their differences, but you want it to be an equitable resort. The playing field needs to be leveled so that lower-income families have access to pro bono and sliding-scale attorneys who can help them file, if that’s something that they need to do.”

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, "parents can pursue mediation or due process if they believe that their child is not being provided an appropriate educational program by their school district," the article said. "However, both approaches can be complicated and costly, with an average due process hearing costing parents and schools an estimated $60,000, according to the study."

"More than a quarter of parents surveyed for the study said they had participated in mediation or due process," the article said. "Beyond income, the survey found that parents were nearly twice as likely to pursue litigation if they had a child who spent less than 20 percent of their time in mainstream classrooms."

According to the article, "families were also significantly more likely to resort to mediation or due process if they had an older child and in cases where kids were more withdrawn or anxious as opposed to those who displayed physical behaviors or verbal aggression, the study found."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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