Special Education Attorney in Guntersville, AL

Paul Seckel Aug. 31, 2016


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 has two main parts. Part C is the early intervention program for children from birth to 2 years of age, and Part B governs the laws related to children from 3 to 21 years of age.

IDEA 2004 Part C, is designed to be an early intervention program. There is an official government web site outlining IDEA Part C located here. However, Part C of IDEA is intended to be used by States to serve infants and toddlers through age 2 with developmental delays or those who have been diagnosed with a physical or a mental condition which results in a high probability of resulting developmental delays from the average child their age. Usually the infant or toddler’s pediatrician is the first to notice such a delay and they will refer your infant or toddler to a testing facility should a developmental delay be noted for evaluation and possible early intervention. The purpose of Part C of IDEA is to provide the infant or toddler the best chance at successful preparation for kindergarten.

Students from ages three to twenty-one are covered under Part B of IDEA. There is an official government web site outlining IDEA Part C located here. Part B of IDEA is designed to ensure states conform to the Federal IDEA regulations to ensure they continue to receive Federal funding. The main regulations of IDEA are contained in Title 20 of the United States Code sections 1411 and following. If you think your student’s school is in violation of IDEA, there are several steps you must follow before you can file a lawsuit under IDEA.

  1. Your child must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

  2. You must request an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting and if your concerns are not addressed in that meeting, you can go to step 3;

  3. File a Due Process Complaint and upon filing a Due Process Complaint, a resolution meeting addressing the parent’s and/or student’s concerns and evaluating the IEP once again will be scheduled and heard.

  4. If the resolution meeting does not sufficiently address the parent’s or student’s concerns, then a Due Process hearing is conducted.

  5. Once a due process hearing is conducted, depending on the outcome, you may be able to file a federal lawsuit and get a resolution from the Federal District Court, within the Northern District of Alabama, Middle District of Alabama, or the Southern District of Alabama.


WHAT IS 504?

A 504 plan falls under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is a civil rights law which prohibits discrimination based on a student’s disability to public and private programs and activities if those activities receive federal financial funds.


To be eligible a student must have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more life activities. Additionally, this physical or mental disability must be documented or the student must be regarded as having such impairment.

A Federal Government Web Site of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding 504 plans can be found here.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services located here the Rights and Responsibilities under the ADA are as follows:

Section 504 and the ADA protect qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of benefits and services. See the Facts Sheet and the Regulations for an explanation of who is a qualified individual with a disability and more detailed information about rights and responsibilities.

Covered entities must not, on the basis of disability:

  • Exclude a person with a disability from a program or activity;

  • Deny a person with a disability the benefits of a program or activity;

  • Afford a person with a disability an opportunity to participate in or benefit from a benefit or service that is not equal to what is afforded others;

  • Provide a benefit or service to a person with a disability that is not as effective as what is provided others;

  • Provide different or separate benefits or services to a person with a disability unless necessary to provide benefits or services that are as effective as what is provided others;

  • Apply eligibility criteria that tend to screen out persons with disabilities unless necessary for the provision of the service, program or activity.

Covered entities must:

  • Provide services and programs in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the qualified individual with a disability

  • Ensure that programs, services, activities, and facilities are accessible

  • Make reasonable modifications in their policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless it would result in a fundamental alteration of the program

  • Provide auxiliary aids to persons with disabilities, at no additional cost, where necessary to afford an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from a program or activity

  • Designate a responsible employee to coordinate their efforts to comply with Section 504 and the ADA

  • Adopt grievance procedures to handle complaints of disability discrimination in their programs and activities

  • Provide notice that indicates:

    • That the covered entity does not discriminate on the basis of disability

    • How to contact the employee who coordinates the covered entity’s efforts to comply with the law

    • Information about the grievance procedures


A free appropriate public education (FAPE) as it relates to 504 is an education which is comparable to the education provided to students without disabilities. To be provided a FAPE under 504, a student may receive regular or special education services. Under section 504 a plan must be developed, but there is no requirement for this plan to be memorialized in a written document. Usually the Individualized Education Program (IEP) provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is used to provide for the Section 504 written plan. However, this is not a requirement.

A free appropriate public education (FAPE) as it relates to IDEA is intended to provide special education and services to students with disabilities. Special education under IDEA is education that is provided at no cost to the parents to meet the child’s unique educational needs. To ensure FAPE under IDEA, and IEP is required and an IEP team is required. Additionally, any time a change is made to an IEP, a meeting is required which requires that the parents be notified of the meeting, in writing.


An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that specifies the academic support and related services that a student will receive from their local education agency (LEA). To qualify to have an IEP, a student must be evaluated and qualified to receive special educational services under the IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act) law.

Expert Witness

Do you need an expert witness in an IDEA violation case? Our expert witness, Emily Jolley, has been in the education industry for over 17 years where she has served as a district IEP coordinator, vice principal, principal, general education teacher and a special education teacher. She has recently attained her JD from Birmingham School of Law and is awaiting her BAR exam results from July of 2017.