Access to a fair and high-quality education isn’t just a privilege. In the United States, it’s a legal right that every student is guaranteed.
The problem is that not all school districts or universities honor that right. Parents and students often find themselves fighting battles with teachers and administrators that they should never have to battle.
If you feel like you or your child is not getting the education and/or accommodations they deserve, you may need an education lawyer who can take on that battle for you.
How do you know when it’s time to hire an education lawyer? Read on to find out.
What Does an Education Lawyer Do?
An education lawyer or education attorney handles any legal cases that pertain to matters of education. Their job is to interpret the law and offer legal advice to school districts, teachers, parents, or adult students. When representing students and/or their parents, educational lawyers tend to focus predominantly on constitutional law, although municipal law can also come into play.
Ultimately, an education lawyer can help to ensure that a student’s school is providing them with the fair and high-quality education that they are legally entitled to.
When Is It Time to Hire an Education Lawyer?
Students run into problems with their teachers or schools on a regular basis. It’s not always easy to determine whether or not the problem is a legal one that can and should be taken to court.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common examples of issues between students and school officials that call for legal representation. While this list is not exhaustive, it does cover some of the most serious issues a student or parent can raise.
The School Is Failing to Provide Special Needs Accommodations
All schools that receive federal funding are required to provide reasonable accommodations for their special needs students. Depending on the student’s needs, those accommodations can include untimed tests, front row seating, and the services necessary to facilitate their learning. These services can include aids, ASL interpreters, wheelchair-accessible desks, and more.
If a student’s diagnosis is known to the school, they should take the steps to provide a fair education to that student. For example, if a student struggles with an attention deficit disorder, they may be entitled to untimed tests. If the school fails to do provide accommodations when asked, they are subject to a lawsuit.
A Student Experienced Discrimination
It is unlawful to discriminate against any student based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, age, or disability. If this occurs to a student at any school that receives federal funding, a lawsuit may be in order.
For example, if a teacher gives a student lower grades than they deserve based on the teacher’s prejudice, this is a violation of our anti-discrimination laws. This also applies if a teacher uses a derogatory term towards a student, ignores them in class, or otherwise treats them differently and unfairly.
In some cases, the issue may be another student rather than a teacher. Discrimination from other students becomes a clearcut legal issue when the school is aware of the discrimination going on in their school but fails to address it.
A Student Was Unjustly Suspended or Expelled
Unjust suspensions or expulsions often require legal intervention. Remember, not all suspensions and expulsions are legal issues–if a student broke a rule for which the punishment is suspension or expulsion, you do not have a case. However, if the student does not deserve this punishment, you should talk to an education attorney.
How do you know if this punishment is unjust? A suspension or expulsion is unjust if, for example, you have clear proof that the student did not commit the violation they were accused of committing. If the school is made aware of this mistake and refuses to right their wrongs, you will need to hire an education attorney.
Note that it is common for unjust suspension or expulsion to go hand in hand with discrimination. If this is the case, you may want to talk to other parents in your school district to determine whether or not the issue is ongoing or systemic. If so, you may have a class action lawsuit on your hands.
The Rules or Regulations Need Changing
Getting a school board to change an outdated rule or regulation isn’t always easy. Minor changes may not need to go to court but bigger changes, especially those that have caused problems for students, often require legal representation.
For example, more and more parents are beginning to push back against dress codes that target female students in an unfair way. Many schools have sent home girls for wearing tank tops or shorts that are deemed “distracting” to male students. Other schools have implemented dress codes that are racially or culturally charged.
Once again, these instances often overlap with cases of discrimination. The biggest difference is that the issue isn’t between one student and one faculty member but instead the student body at large and the school board at large. It is often helpful not only to hire an education attorney but to put together a coalition of other parents who also want the rule or regulation to change.
Ensure Fair and Quality Education for All Students
In America, fair and quality education is not something we simply hope our students have access to. It is a right, which means that it is up to schools and educators to create fair and equitable learning environments for all students. If you feel that you or your child is not receiving the education they deserve based on any of the above reasons, hire an education lawyer today.
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