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What is the remedy when a school fails to follow education laws?

Whether students across the United States realize it or not, they are afforded a number of protections including the right to equal education. Any school that receives federal funding, including some schools that do not, must adhere to federal and state education laws that provide every student with the education they deserve.

But as many of our more frequent blog readers know, sometimes these laws aren't always followed. A violation of state and federal education laws can create barriers for students with special educational needs. And failing to provide the best education possible can put them at a disadvantage, possibly for the rest of their life.

So what is the remedy when a school fails to follow education laws? In this week's blog post, we will look at two remedies that parents can seek if they suspect that a school has failed to implement state and federal education laws.

The first remedy we will look at this week is alternative dispute resolution which is a process that uses trained mediators to try to resolve a complaint alleged against a public education agency. Here in California, a complaint must be filed in writing and can be done so by anyone. According to our state's Department of Education, a complaint must be supported by information that not only describes the problem but provides supportive evidence for the claim as well.

But some special education issues are simply too complex to resolve with the help of a mediator though and require instead the specialized help of a knowledgeable lawyer. This is where we introduce the second remedy: civil litigation.

In cases where an individual believes that a student has been discriminated against, such as a child with disabilities, a complaint can be filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. A complaint can be filed in a number of ways, including online and through the mail, and can be done on behalf of someone else.

It's important to point out though that the laws that govern the education system are incredibly complex and may not be fully understood by someone who does not have the proper legal background. That's why, in order to give credence to your case, you may want to seek the help of a skilled education law attorney who can help you reach the justice and resolution you desire.

Source: The California Department of Education, "Special Education Dispute Resolution Process," Accessed Oct. 27, 2014

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