Episode 14 - Legal Protections for Students with Disabilities

Episode Summary
Federal, state, and local education policy establish the rights of students with disabilities. In this episode, The Windward School’s Committee on Special Education liaisons, Peter Beardsley and Lara Damashek, explain the fundamentals and nuances of special education law. They discuss the responsibility of educational teams to ensure that students with disabilities receive equitable, appropriate services. This episode provides READ listeners with a deep dive in the key principles of special education policies and processes and how they impact the rights of students with the most common learning disabilities including dyslexia, speech and language impairment, and ADHD.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.” 

1. Federal policy such as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) enact basic principles for the special education process as well as establish the rights of students with disabilities and families such as:

  • Parent participation in multi-disciplinary teams
  • Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
  • Non-discriminatory evaluations
  • Individualized Education Plans (IEP)

“Parent participation in the decision making [process] makes parents a member [of the multidisciplinary team] … their views are to be considered and are valuable for developing education plans for students with disabilities.”

2. A diagnosis is a clinical term given by a medical professional. A classification is an educational label assigned by a multidisciplinary committee on special education after a consensus is reached about the main impairment or disability impacting the child’s education.

Did you know? Specific Learning Disability (SLD), Speech or Language Impairment (SLI), and Other Health Impairment (OHI) like ADHD are the most common disability categories outlined by the IDEA.

3. Specific Learning Disability (SLD), the most common disability category under IDEA, is noted by unexpected academic underachievement and includes dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, and a nonverbal learning disability.


National Center for Learning Disabilities   Understood's Federal Law v. State Law 
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.