Guide, Toolkit

Special Education & Related Services: Advocating for Students with Disabilities

All students deserve to learn and thrive at school. Unfortunately, not all students receive the supports and services they need to succeed. Although federal and state laws set forth specific rights and protections for students with or suspected of having disabilities, these laws can be complex for parents to understand and navigate on their own. In addition, when parents attempt to access special education and related services for their student, systemic barriers such as structural racism, unequal language access, and unfair power dynamics often work together to prevent them from being the equal partners they are meant to be under law.

We designed this handbook to help parents, caregivers, and community members who support students with disabilities advocate for and enforce their student’s special education rights. We hope to empower and prepare families to advocate for their students by providing them with the necessary information to identify special education needs and navigate the special education process. Please note that we intend this handbook to be a guide for self-advocacy and it does not constitute legal advice.


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