“Juvenile Justice and Special Education”
By Dean M. Beer, Esquire
Parents are often unaware of the critical assistance that a lawyer well-versed in special education law can provide when a child is arrested. In the event that your child is facing juvenile charges you should first contact an attorney who practices criminal law. The next step should be to consult a special education attorney who will be able to determine whether federal laws regarding special education, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), apply. Many children charged with crimes are also doing poorly in school.
Under IDEA, a parent may request – and the school district is required to perform – an educational evaluation which will assess your child’s reading, writing, and math abilities as well as his or her overall cognitive abilities. The evaluation may also include behavioral, emotional, and social assessment of your child. Once these evaluations are completed, the evaluations will provide a greater understanding of how your child performs in school and why he or she is having difficulties in particular areas. Depending on the outcome of the educational evaluation, your child may be entitled to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan, available under the IDEA. In addition to helping your child address his or her educational difficulties, the information obtained from the evaluations may mitigate the circumstances which resulted in the criminal charges and provide a rationale for the juvenile court to impose a sentence of probation rather than incarceration.
If your child is identified, there is an array of services and programs that may be able to help your child in school. The types of services and programs that are available are unlimited and can be tailored to your child’s needs. Some examples are as follows:
A program and a plan that specifically deals with your child’s behaviors and how to address those behaviors when they occur both in and out of school;
Social skills training; and
Increased tutoring and specific educational programs designed to deal with your child’s individual educational needs.
The above strategies and ideas are just some of the support that can be provided for your child with the assistance of an experienced special education attorney. The goal of IDEA is to design and implement a program that is individualized to your child’s specific educational, behavioral, and social emotional needs. If your child has been arrested, you need to address their educational needs in the context of the criminal matter.
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