In Illinois, students between the age of three and 21 who meet the statutory definition of a child with disability are entitled to, among other rights, a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, and a specialized educational program to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living.
The Illinois State Board of Education reports that there will be over 300,00 such students being served in Illinois schools during the current school year.
The reality is that many low-income children do not receive the level of appropriate educational services provided under current law. Parents and caregivers are often not adequately informed of their rights, and may not be able to read or understand the numerous documents they are asked to review and provide informed consent to. When disputes arise concerning an educational issue, parents and caregivers often feel helpless.
On the side of the school district are attorneys and a long list of experts and professionals, while the low-income parent or caregiver stands alone. The parent must interpret complex statutes and regulations and be able to articulate their concerns by means of oral and written expression. Without the assistance of a legal representative, the parent is virtually powerless against the school system.
The SEAC is a free legal resource to help parents and caregivers navigate the red tape of special education law and be the best advocate possible for your child.