Right to Talented or Gifted Education Programs

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Many schools provide special classes reserved especially for children classified as "gifted." Problems arise when the demand for them outweighs the number of spaces that these classes can offer.

What Determines Whether A Child Is Talented Or Gifted?

The determination of whether a child is talented or gifted is made in accordance with state laws and regulations. Schools may set standards themselves, but they must not violate the standards set by the state.

This determination of whether a child is gifted or not is by no means an exact science. Yet, as long as the determination is based on some objective, nondiscriminatory method, such as the use of a standardized test, it is usually very difficult to challenge it.

How Is Talented Or Gifted Defined?

Generally, a child who is talented or gifted has the following characteristics:

What Do I Need To Show To Assert The Right For My Child To Participate In These Talented or Gifted Education Programs?

In order to assert this right, one must show:

1. State law actually provides for these special programs that the child is entitled to participate;
2. The child must meet the definition of talented or gifted as established by the law; and
3. Discriminatory or unequal treatment by the school in selecting children for the programs.

However, administrative remedies provided by the schools (e.g. reviewing applications and parent teacher meetings) usually must be exhausted first before a suit can be filed.

Must A School Provide These Special Programs For The Talented or Gifted Children?

Not really. Most states make it optional for schools to provide these special education programs. Even when there is an obligation to provide these programs, the depth and structure of these programs are primarily determined by the schools themselves and may be very limited in scope.

Is There Any Constitutional Guarantee To These Special Programs?

No. There is no Constitutional guarantee for any one to be provided a special education program. Furthermore, the right to a special education has not been deemed to be a property right that is protected by the Constitution.

Do I Need an Attorney Experienced in Education and Schools?

The law regarding education and schools can often be complex and frustrating. An attorney can help you understand your school district's law, and properly evaluate your legal options. If you need to sue your school or proceed through some type of administrative hearing, an attorney would have experience dealing with school districts and help you get the results you desire.

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Last Modified: 11-30-2011 04:30 PM PST

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