Information for Parents and Family Members
There are many differences between high school and college, including laws pertaining to students with disabilities, student responsibilities (social, academic, personal), and adjustment to a new environment.
- High School
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
- Covers ages 3-21 or until regular high school diploma requirements are met
- Schools are required to identify students with disabilities through free assessment and the individualized education program (IEP) process
- Students receive special education and related services to address needs based on an identified disability
- Services include individually designed instruction, modifications and accomodations based on the IEP
- Progress toward IEP goals is monitored and communicated to the parents and/or student
- Postsecondary Institutions
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Covers students with disabilities regardless of age; schools may not discriminate in recruitment, admission, or during enrollment, solely on the basis of a disability
- Students are required to submit documentation establishing their disability and need for accomodations. Services are only provided once a student self-idenitfies and provides appropriate documentation. Postsecondary institutions are not required to evaluate or test students
- Formal special education services are not available
- Reasonable accomodations may be made to provide equal access and participation
- Students are required to monitor their own progress and communicate their needs to appropriate personnel
Here are some considerations for you as your child transitions to West Chester University
- Students have new freedoms and new responsibilities and must make decisions on their own.
- Students must manage their own time and arrange their own schedules.
- Students must seek out assistance and campus resources.
- Students must develop strategies and learn how to advocate for themselves.
- Accomodations provided in high school may not necesarilly be appropriate at the postsecondary level.
At postsecondary institutions students have the responsibility to:
- Self-identify or disclose their disability to the designated office for disability services.
- Provide documentation from an appropriate professional source that verifies the nature of the disability, functional limitations, and the need for specific accomodations.
- Act as independent adult and use appropriate self-advocacy skills.
- Arrange for and obtain their own personal assistant, tutoring, and individually designed assistive technologies.
Postsecondary institutions are not required to:
- Reduce or waive any of the essential requirements of a course or program.
- Conduct testing and assessment of learning, psychological or medical disabilities.
- Provide personal assistants.
- Provide personal or private tutoring.
- Prepare Individualize Education Plans (IEPs)
Important Things to Remember
- Students who attend college are considered to be adults, protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). OSSD staff cannot talk to parents about the student's academic activities. Parents need to talk to the student directly about disclosing disabilities and requesting accomodations.
How Parents Can Help Their Student
- Listen and provide support and consultation, but give your student the space to figure it out on their own. Resist the urge to "fix" the problem.
- Encourage them to make connections. Direct your student to talk with the OSSD, their professors, their academic advisor, and other individuals who can assist them while at West Chester University.
- Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process; allow them to learn from their experiences.
- Help promote your student's self advocacy by encouraging them to set their own goals and take ownership of their education.