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When discussing what parents of children with learning and/or communications disorders should expect from their childrens’ teachers, there is both a moral and a legal response.
Any civilized society has a moral obligation to its children, and has a special moral obligation to its physically or mentally handicapped children. Consequently, parents of mentally disabled children, or those with communications disorders, should expect the school in which their children are enrolled to provide the special assistance those children require in order to have an opportunity of reaching their full potential as adults.
Legally, the question is less philosophical. Congress has repeatedly addressed that issue through the passage of laws intended to help disabled children attain an education, and to do so with dignity. In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act was signed into law, prohibiting discrimination against the handicapped, including students in public schools. Section 504 of that Act mandates that these schools provide the special education and other services disabled children need. The Rehabilitation Act’s definition of “disabled” is sufficiently broad to cover virtually all children with learning disorders and communications problems.
The 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was a major step forward in requiring public school systems to meet the needs of all of their students, including those with learning disabilities, communication disorders, and physical handicaps requiring the use of wheelchairs and other types of special equipment. IDEA was a follow-on to the earlier Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, which required schools to ensure that disabled students were afforded all the benefits provided no handicapped children, and that they were taught in an environment conducive to learning and socializing.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 went even further in requiring public schools to meet the special needs of disabled children. NCLB requires schools to factor in the scores of disabled students along with those of other students in its yearly annual assessments of progress (Adequate Yearly Progress), reflected in the statewide testing required of all public schools.
Basically, parents of children with learning disorders have a legal right for their children to receive whatever resources are necessary to ensure that those children receive an education.
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