Access To Education: Getting Special Services For A Child

From Ohio Legal Rights Services. 
For more information visit their website at

All students are entitled to a free, appropriate public education.  Schools have a duty to identify and help any "child with a disability that affects learning."  This applies to persons from ages 3 to 22.  A parent, guardian or a school can request that a child be evaluated to determine if child has a disability that affects learning.

A "child with a disability" includes children with mental retardation, hearing impairments, speech or language impairments, visual impairments, emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments or specific learning disabilities.

If child qualifies for special services, the school and the parent or guardian must meet to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  An IEP sets out educational goals and services to help the child to meet those goals.

The school system must deliver the services in the ‘least restrictive environment.’ That could mean keeping the child in regular classes with assistance from the classroom teacher or other personnel.

A parent may disagree with the school system at any stage.  A parent may disagree about identification, testing, IEP development and special services delivery process.  The parent may seek to appeal the schools actions through a ‘due process’ hearing.  The parent may be represented at any stage of the process.  Attorney fees may be awarded if the parent prevails at the due process hearing.

Assistance may be available from the Ohio Legal Rights Service (OLRS).  The OLRS is an independent state agency which advocates for persons with disabilities.  OLRS can be reached at 8 East Long Street, Suite 500 Columbus, Ohio 43215-2999 telephone : 614-466-7264 or 1-800-282-9181 (toll free in Ohio) TTY: 614-728-2553 or 1-800-858-3542 (Toll free in Ohio) Fax: 614-644-1888 or on the internet at: 


This information is meant for your general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated April 2012.