1,800 special education students may be entitled to free education after DOE lawsuit

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly two thousand special education students may have another shot at getting their education.

A Federal appeals court found the Department of Education broke federal law by forcing out special education students who didn't receive a diploma by age 20.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students are allowed to stay in school until they earn a regular high school diploma at age 22.

The Hawaii Department of Education identified 1,800 students who may be entitled to free compensatory education services under a recent Federal District Court order, to make up for those missing years.

The Hawaii Disability Rights Center is mailing out 1400 letters to students eligible for free education who are between the age of 22 and 26 years old.

Louis Erteschik, Executive Director of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center said there are at least 350 students who are eligible, but they don't have current contact information to reach them.

"Yellow letters have been sent out to everyone for whom we have contact information, but we know there are more eligible students," Erteschik said. "If you, or a family member, ages 22 to 26 received special education services, and left school for any reason without receiving a high school diploma, please contact us."

Debbie Kobayakawa, a parent advocate, professed the benefit of transition services, saying the services provided her son the foundation of his success today and he is now able to live and work independently.

Anyone who doesn't receive a letter in the next few days is urged to call (808) 441-6268 or visit their website by clicking HERE.

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