When it comes to education of special needs children, all sides have a duty first to what's best for the child. As a parent, you want and advocate for the opportunities that will serve your child best. At the same time, federal law requires the New York school system to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education to your child.
What educational and support services to provide, how to pay for them, and by whom, can create points of conflict. Most parents have limited resources. School administrators will argue that they face the same limitations. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act includes provisions meant to ensure due legal process for parents and children, but to exercise the provisions you must know your rights.
Not only does the law establish some parameters on the nature of the education your child is entitled to, it also provides for administrative and jurisdictional processes by which parents can seek redress if they feel their, or their child's, rights have been violated.
If you and the school system are unable to agree on plans for your child, you have a right to petition for mediation or impartial hearing. One thing about nearly all legal proceedings is that they take time. And when it comes to the education of your child, any delay can raise concerns about maintaining your student's progress.
To address this, the law requires the school system to, at a minimum, allow your child to remain in whatever programs he or she is in currently pending the outcome of the legal process. This is known as pendency or maintaining the status quo.
In addition to creating an educational foothold for your child, there may be financial benefit for you by putting a disputed matter into pendency. This is something to discuss with a skilled education law attorney before making any decisions.