Legal Issues and the Gifted
How do I get information about the legal rights of my gifted child?
The best way to get information is to contact the state consultant for gifted education in your state. Request copies of the laws and rules and regulations in your state pertaining to the gifted and also related areas such as early admission to public schools, dual enrollment, graduation requirements, which are usually separate laws. Most of the laws can also be found on the legislative web site. The state association for the gifted should also be helpful in responding to requests for such information.
Other ideas for getting information include asking the local, county, or parish contact person for gifted education for local and state policies. The superintendents' office could be helpful in directing you to the person in charge of the program.
How can disputes be resolved?
Negotiation --When disputes arise within a school district over screening and identification, programming options, or other areas, the parties involved should know the steps to resolve an issue within that jurisdiction. Typically, the negotiation begins at the level at which the dispute arose.
Mediation -- Provides an avenue to resolve an issue in an informal, amicable manner with the guidance of a trained mediator; it should involve a minimum of time, financial support, and stress. The goal of mediation is to produce a written formal document, signed by all parties that settles the issue.
Due Process -- Due process is very different from mediation. The costs of time, money, and emotional stress are greater. All decisions are the responsibility of the hearing officer. The report is written solely by the person conducting the hearing, and all aspects of the findings must be followed unless one of the parties appeals to the next highest level. The most common point of appeal is the chief state school officer or a person designated within the department of education.
Court Cases -- Unfortunately, when conflicts cannot be resolved through negotiation, mediation, or due process, the next step is the courts, either state or federal, depending on the focus of the issue. Protracted court cases can be very costly, emotionally wrenching, and adversarial.
Reprinted with the permission of Duke University. © 2008 Duke University Talent Identification Program.
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