Education law concerns the collection of laws and rules that govern the operation of education systems in the United States. Education law also concerns the principles and government policy making in the realm of education.
Education: An Overview
Education, as a government function, is administered through the public school system by the Department of Education. States, however, have primary responsibility for the maintenance and operation of public schools. The Federal Government, having and interest in education, created The National Institute of Education to improve education in the United States.
State constitutions require each state to provide a school system where children may receive an education. State legislatures exercise power over schools, consistent with the state’s constitution, but usually delegate power to a state board of education.
Education Law: The Rules
- The Basics
o Parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children, including the right to choose for their children to go to a private school. However, states still have the power to regulate private schools.
o State’s powers are limited when private schools are religious institutions.
- U.S. Constitution
o Restricts public funding of private schools.
- The Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974
o Provides that no state shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin.
Special Education, How Does It Help?
Special education laws give children with disabilities, including their parents, important rights. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that gives families of special education children the right to:
- Have their children assessed or tested to determine special education eligibility and needs
- Inspect and review school records relating to their child
- Attend an annual “individualized education program” (IEP) meeting and develop a written IEP plan with representatives of the local school district
- Resolve disputes with the school district through an impartial administrative and legal process.
School districts are required to identify, locate, and evaluate children with disabilities. IDEA defines “children with disabilities” as individuals between the ages of three and 22 with one or more of the following conditions:
- Mental Retardation
- Hearing Impairment (deafness included)
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Visual Impairment (blindness included)
- Serious Emotional Disturbance
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Specific Learning Disability
- Other Health Impairment
In addition to a disability, there must also be evidence that the disability adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Do You Have A Question About Education Law?
It’s important to discuss questions pertaining to education law with a lawyer. Education law can be a very confusing and stressful field to navigate. This is understandable, as questions regarding education law usually deal with a family member. Still, everyone has a right to understand their rights in education law.