How does a child with a disability qualify for services from the school?

  • There are two primary statutes that outline legal requirements for a disabled child to qualify for special services from a public school: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Each has different requirements.
  • The IDEA contains an extensive list of disabilities that qualify, and your child’s disability must appear in this list. Further, the disability must cause the child to require special education services.
  • Section 504 does not list disabilities; rather, the child simply has to demonstrate that the disability has a substantial impact on a major life activity. This might include being unable to walk, or having a severe food allergy, or a serious case of ADHD.
  • If you believe that your disabled child requires special services, you must notify the school in writing that you want your child evaluated and considered for these services.
  • It may be very important to seek support from an attorney who fully understands the law.