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Parent Rights for Speech-Language Services

Parent Rights

The rights and services parents have access to regarding special education can be overwhelming and confusing at best. This page intends to make important information about rights and laws more accessible to parents.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA)

This law states that every child found eligible for special education services has the right to receive:

1) Free, appropriate, public, education (FAPE) - special education and related services provided at public expense and without charge to parents of children between the ages of 3 and 21 having a specific identified disability, and whom needs special education and related services in order to benefit from the education received.

  • Included under this are speech-language pathology services. Like any other special education service, speech therapy should be provided to a child 3 to 21 years old. A child does not need to have any other disorders other than speech and language disorders in order to qualify for services.

  • For children 0-3 years old in the San Francisco area, the Golden Gate Regional Center is where to receive speech-language pathology services. The center provides "early intervention services to infants between birth and three years of age who are developmentally delayed or believed to be at high risk of having a developmental disability, and genetic counseling and testing for individuals at high risk of having a child with a disability."
    The email contact is

2) Appropriate Evaluation - This service is free of charge if the district agrees the child needs to be assessed. Please see the referral for assessment procedures below. Many other places outside of the school setting also provide free assessment services.

3) Individual Education Program (IEP) See the following link for information about IEP's:

4) Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) -  A student must be educated with students without special needs, to the maximum amount possible.

  • Example: A child with autism should be able to still remain in the general classroom, as long as the child's needs are being met.

5) Participation in decision making, along with parents

6) Procedural Due Process

  • Before pursuing Special Education services, it is best to have a meeting with the teacher to discuss the student's work, grades, behavior, and attendance. Next, a Student Study Team (SST) can be formed to help the child.


If the above is not helpful enough to the child for a better education experience, then a referral for a Special Education Assessment can be made:

1) Parent must send a written request to the school district, requesting assessment in all areas of suspected disability. The District has 15 calendar days (including weekends and holidays) to respond to the parent with a proposed Assessment Plan or a "refusal" letter stating why an assessment is not necessary.

2) If the district agrees to assess the child, the parent has 15 days to consent to the Assessment Plan, sign it, and send it back to the district.

3) Once the parent agrees to the assessment plan, the district has sixty days from the date they receive the signed Assessment Plan to complete the assessments and have a meeting to discuss the results and determine eligibility for services. If the district receives the signed plan at the end of the school year, then they have 30 days from the start of the next school year to complete the assessments and have a meeting. If the child is eligible, development of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) occurs at the meeting.

4) If the child is found ineligible for services, he or she returns to the general education classroom and receives interventions and accommodations there.

5) If the parent disagrees with the district's decision, the parent can dispute this through mediation and Due Process Procedures.

Helpful Resources

This organization provides legal support, representation, technical assistance consultations, and training to parents throughout the San Francisco Bay Area whose children need appropriate special education services.

  • On the website, parents can download the Special Education Rights and Responsibilities Handbook or can order a copy. This is "one of the most complete and useful resources on the special education process available today."

The following resources are helpful for language needs, non-fluent English speaker's rights, and finding translators:

  • Any federal agency that serves the public is required to provide access to services for those who are not proficient in the English language, according to executive order 13116.
  • This is another helpful website that contains "I Speak Cards," which are prewritten cards translated in many different languages and written in English so that an individual can obtain interpreter services.
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