Some parents of children with special needs in the secondary schools wrongly assume that whatever services the child is getting under a Section 504 Plan or an IEP in high school is going to apply for them once they go to college. This is not the case. The college process is very different.
Secondary schools have an obligation to reach out to families with children with special needs. They have an obligation to try to help figure out what kind of services are needed, and they are required to provide all services that are needed. College system is very different.
In the college system, you have to contact the college’s Office of Disabilities. They may have different titles but they all have some sort of office that is related to students with disabilities. You have to be extremely proactive. You have to approach them; they will not seek you out. You have to prove to them what the disabilities are, and you have to make your arguments as to what services you believe are needed.
They don’t have to suggest services and they don’t have to help you with the process. It is up to you to be a strong advocate for your child, or for your child to become a strong advocate for him or herself. Approach these offices armed with your evaluations, armed with your history of the IEPs and 504s, which will be very helpful in convincing the college, but understanding that it really depends on your advocacy early in the process.
It’s important, if you think your child is going to need services in college, to approach the college very early, not wait until you have a problem in the class and then try to say that you should have got an accommodation. That’s not the school’s obligation and they won’t be liable for any failure to have provided something that you had not previously asked for.
It’s an important process. If you have questions, contact a lawyer who understands the law and can help guide you through the process in explaining how to approach the college.
The law firm of Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C., is composed of experienced education attorneys throughout the states of New Jersey and Delaware. Please contact the office for a free initial consultation and get any questions answered regarding your specific case.