In March of 2015, I posted this story:
Graduating high school with an associate’s degree in nursing will soon be a reality for some Valley High students in Texas.
The rigorous, highly competitive program is an attempt to address the nursing shortage by getting nurses prepared sooner.
Opinions related to this program have been varied. Advocates for the BSN degree as entry to practice have serious concerns. Others, are concerned about the maturity levels of high school students in clinical settings. Still others, ask how the nursing curriculum can be delivered in tandem with high school requirements-- without "watering down" one or the other?
As an advocate for nurses and nursing students with disabilities, I have additional questions.
The laws protecting people with disabilities are complicated.
What is the potential impact of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on high school students who could be included in this program?
IDEA is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.
Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B. A free, appropriate public education is defined to mean special education and related services. Special education means "specially designed instruction at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability..."
Related services are provided if students, require them in order to benefit from specially designed instruction.
States are required to ensure the provision of "full educational opportunity" to all children with disabilities. IDEA requires the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) document with specific content and a required number of participants at an IEP meeting.
When students with disabilities are admitted to a college or university, IDEA no longer applies. Then, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies. Protections, services, funding, procedural safeguards and due process differ between IDEA and the ADA.
Will high school students with disabilities enrolled in a nursing program have greater protection under IDEA?
Will they receive greater support, accommodation and protection under IDEA than they would receive under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
**** Update to this story.....all eight of the students graduated in May of 2017. Congratulations and best wishes to all! ****