Student’s Rights

Are you worried about your child’s school grades? Take an Active Role!

Like many parents/caregivers you want the best for your child and it is natural to worry when your child is not doing very well in school. Most importantly, parents do not want to see their children struggle academically as this can be stressful at home, can bring their self-esteem down and can jeopardize the ability for them to keep giving the best of them at school.

We all learned different. Some are quick to grasp content and others have to take the time to process and then learn the material. Some are visual learners while others are all about what and how they hear things. And some need both, to hear it and to see it in order to effectively learn.

If your child is struggling in school take an active role as a parent; build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher in order to effectively communicate the concerns you have but also for you, as a parent, to understand your child’s academic (and emotional) difficulties interfering with their learning.

Number 1

Talk to your child’s teacher about their overall performance and identify areas of difficulty: reading, writing, math, behavior? Do they have difficulty grasping math concepts? Or do they struggle with language arts? Do they struggle putting into words their ideas? Do they have difficulty understanding what they read?  It is very important to recognize areas of difficulty so proper steps can be taken.

Number 2

After talking to your child’s teacher discuss the problem with your pediatrician so they can asses for medical causes and/or other clinical symptoms that can be impacting academic performance. Some medical problems that can interfere with school include sleeping problems, poor diet, low iron, pain, thyroid problems, untreated asthma, emotional difficulties, ADHD symptoms, life changes, etc..

Number 3

Know your child’s rights. There are two federal civil rights laws that protect the educational rights of children with disabilities: Section 504, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These laws provide guidance for the education of all students with disabilities in public school that receive federal funds. Section 504 defines disability more broadly than IDEA, so it may be less difficult to qualify for and may get implemented faster. IDEA is best known for its main provision, the IEP, or Individualized Education Program. An IEP can be harder to qualify for and can take longer to get, though it may offer more comprehensive educational benefits. In summary, section 504 is for children whose educational needs can be addressed through changes in the general classroom and curriculum. Some examples of student accommodations under section 504 include a more structured learning environment, extra time during tests, option to test in a quieter area to minimize distractions, etc. An IEP provides a more comprehensive educational plan as compared to section 504.

Number 4

Once you have spoken to your child’s provider and have determined that your child may benefit from school support, request a formal evaluation in writing. The school has between 30 days and 6 weeks to answer your request and to complete an evaluation of your child’s need for educational services. To determine eligibility for services under Section 504, a school may consider several sources on your child, including grades over past years, teacher reports, information from parents or other agencies, discipline reports, health records, attendance records, and adaptive behavior information.

Number 5

Take an active role by participating in team meetings about your child’s accommodations, progress and additional concerns. Be prepared for meetings by obtaining information about the kind of support and accommodations your child can receive, don’t be afraid of asking questions, be open minded and cooperative, take notes and request a copy of any reports or paperwork discussed.