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Can a school give a student special education and related services if the child is not disabled?

Brooklyn, NY |

IDEA defines a "child with a disability" as a "child... with an intellectual disability, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance..., orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; AND, who... [because of the condition] needs special education and related services."

The student has hygiene problems and doesn't socialize but the problem is not related to a disability. The problem is related to the student not anticipating.

Attorney Answers 3


No, a child without a disability cannot be given special education services. The identification, evaluation, and IEP process is too long and complicated for special education services to "just happen."

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A hygiene problem does not consitute a disability, nor does just lack of socialization due to hygiene issues. There is no requirement for an IEP in this situation. I am sorry. Perhaps, there is a remedial program through a dentist that could used.

The previous information is solely for informational purposes only. If you have further questions, please contact an attorney in your area for more specific answers. Responding to your question in no way creates an attorney/client relationship, and none of the specific guarantees of privacy exist. If you have found this information helpful, kindly check the "helpful" box.

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Generally speaking, in order to be entitled to special education services, a student must have a qualifying disability that adverselly affects his/her educational performance. This link lists the thirteen (13) qualifying disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Students who qualify for special education services will often have an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Secton 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also provides that certain students with a qualifying "impairment" should not be discriminated against on account of their impairment. Students who qualify for services under Section 504 often will have a "504 plan."

You may want to have this student evaluated by your school's team of psychologists, or social workers to see if he/she is eligible for any of the aforementioned services. If the student's parent or guardian consents, perhaps the student may be evaluated by an outside doctor.

As for your comment about hygiene problems, I would immediately be concerned with this student's home environment. Generally, students don't want to be known as the "smelly kid" in the classroom. Depending on the age of the student, perhaps you can discretely bring in a toothbrush and toothpaste for the student, a deodorant, foot powder, clean t-shirt - something to address whatever unhygienic behavior you are observing.

As for the student's social behavior, perhaps the student should be seen by his guidance counselor or a school social worker or psychologist. If needed, a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) may need to be formulated and implemented in order to help the student improve his socialization skills.

Without more specific information, I cannot provide a more direct response to your question. You seem to believe that the student's behavior is not related to his/her disability. I do not understand what you mean by the student "not anticipating." You may mean that the student is unable to anticipate the consequences of his/her behavior. That may be a symptom of a disability itself. Has the student been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder, which is a serious diagnosis, or does the student just have weak social skills? These are all questions that you will need to investigate and then make a well-informed determination of what special education and related services, if any, this student will need.

This information is intended for educational purposes and does not establish a client-attorney relationship. A client-attorney relationship is not formed until the signing of a written retainer agreement by both the client and the attorney.

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