Protecting Student Rights

NCLD has an important mission:

Protect the rights of students with disabilities under the law. 

Right now, these rights are at stake

We know it is difficult to remain informed and not feel overwhelmed during this uncertain time. That is why NCLD created this ‘getting started’ guide to give you the knowledge you need to take action.

Getting Started Guide

IDEA entitles all public school students to a free appropriate public education. This law protects the rights of students with disabilities. These rights include: 

  1. Identification of a Disability: Students in K-12 public schools have the right to a free evaluation to determine if they have a disability. 
  2. Special Education and Services to Learn: Students in K-12 who are identified with a disability have the right to special education and related services–often referred to as an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This includes the right to specialized instruction as well as essential accommodations like extended time on tests, using a calculator, or using a screen reader. 
  3. Ability to Take Legal Action: Parents have the right to be involved in all educational decisions regarding their child. IDEA provides parents with a private right of action in the event that the school fails to provide a free and appropriate education. 

Read about other major laws affected by the CARES Act here.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the ‘‘CARES Act” will make many important improvements to help our nation during the COVID-19 crisis. It was signed into law at the end of March to help lessen some of the economic impacts during this health crisis. Read our blog to learn more about the CARES Act.

There are some education provisions in the CARES Act that threaten the rights of students with disabilities. The US Department of Education will submit a report to Congress requesting waivers for school districts and states under IDEA. 

This means that school districts and state education agencies won’t face legal consequences for not providing the accommodations and learning supports students are guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

You are impacted by this! We are all part of the movement to support students with learning and attention issues. 

  • If you are a current K-12 student, it affects you directly. These waivers could stop you from receiving the services and accommodations you need to learn.
  • If you’re in college, but you received special education services in school, imagine how difficult it would have been to learn without these services. That is a world our students could be facing.

Perhaps you had an IEP, or a 504 plan, or extra time, while in school. Those things were possible because people who came before you fought for your ability to learn. These waivers threaten the future of students all across the country. Giving the Secretary of Education the ability to waive the provisions of IDEA will make it difficult to identify and support every student who is eligible for accommodations. 

Under waivers, schools would not need to follow standard screening timelines for IEPs, involve parents in any changes they make, or provide students with disabilities a fair and equitable education.

Read this New York Times article about one parent’s story.

If we allow these rights to be taken away now, this sets a dangerous precedent for waiving rights in the future. 

We know teachers, parents, and students are facing a difficult time as everyone quickly adopts virtual learning. We also know there are innovative and incredible ways schools and districts can educate students with disabilities through online learning. 

NCLD is trying to lift up those promising practices and help educators through this difficult time.Learn more about what this means for teachers.

As we near the date in April when Secretary Betsy DeVos submits her report on IDEA waivers, NCLD will be working hard to protect civil rights. 

  1. Stay connected to NCLD, by signing up for our newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Tell your Members of Congress to not waive student rights under IDEA through NCLD’s Action Center

Join our students with learning and attention issues campaign focused on lifting up stories and experiences from young adults, parents, and educators about the importance of IDEA for students with LD. Tell us your stories!

Engaged And Empowered

Hear from other young adults with learning and attention issues.

Reservation, Risk, and Relief: Finding My Way to Advocacy

* A version of this blog was also posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services blog in recognition of LD Awareness Month in 2020. My self-advocacy is a choice. Not a choice I wanted to make, but one I had to make and continue to make every day. The journey was provoked […]

College Accommodations and COVID-19: How to Prepare for the Fall Semester

Virtual LD Day of Action – Policy Update

Policy Update – LD Day of Action Congress is set to vote on a provision that will waive school districts and states from their responsibility to educate students with learning and attention issues.  The law that protects them, IDEA, is an important and critical foundation of civil rights. Listen and follow along with our recording […]

Meet the NCLD Team

Carrying out the NCLD mission to improve outcomes for the 1 in 5 individuals with learning and attention issues.


Young Adult Initiatives

Help empower and advocate for young adults ages 18–26 with learning disabilities and attention issues.

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