Education Rights

DRNC enforces the education rights of students with disabilities ages 3 through 22 who attend public schools in our state. The law requires schools to teach students with disabilities in the school building except in very rare cases. Additionally, schools must use effective instruction that meets the student’s individual needs. Schools must teach them even if they have severe disabilities or challenging behaviors.

The Work of DRNC's Education Team

DRNC’s education team enforces the special education rights of students with disabilities ages three through twenty-two who attend public school. We focus on keeping students with disabilities in school – not suspended, on homebound or shorten school days schedules, out of juvenile court and improving the quality of special education instruction.

DRNC recognizes that disability touches everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, class, geography, religion, or citizenship. However, we understand that the intersection of vulnerable identities leaves some more exposed to educational inequities, like black and Latino students with disabilities that are more often pushed out of schools and in to juvenile systems than other students. We also work to break apart what is referred to as the school to prison pipeline and to ensure that marginalized students get proper Special Education evaluations in services.

We also recognize that schools serve many functions. They are places of learning but also where students are fed, socialize and follow healthy routines. We believe that schools need increased numbers of nurses, psychologists, counselors and social workers to meet the emotional needs of all students and especially students with disabilities.

We work to ensure all students with disabilities in North Carolina are properly identified and evaluated and receive supports and services that meet their unique needs. The North Carolina Constitution guarantees all North Carolina students the opportunity to receive a sound basic education that applies to students with disabilities. And that is our goal.

How DRNC advocates for the education rights of students with disabilities

A number of students with disabilities in NC miss significant amounts of school due to:

  • suspensions
  • modified day schedules
  • homebound placements
  • alternative school placements
  • court involvement

Our main goal is to get these students back in school so they can make progress in school. We also work to keep them out of juvenile courts and detention centers. And we advocate to improve the quality of special education instruction. We want your student to have the services and supports they need to succeed in school.

How we work to return students to school and improve their chances of success

  • Educating students, parents, and advocates about special education rights.
  • Helping parents and advocates file formal and informal appeals to enforce those rights.
  • Representing individual students on systemic legal issues.*
  • Securing changes to laws and procedures that are harmful to students with disabilities.
  • Enforcing laws and procedures to protect students with disabilities.

* These are issues that we believe we can resolve both for that student and other students in the same school district or state-wide.


We protect the educational rights of students with disabilities. And we make sure they are able to attend school each day. We also make sure they have what they need to learn and succeed in school.

View our library of education resources

Your child’s education rights at a glance

Your child has the right to:

  • Stay in school on a full day schedule.
  • Receive individualized instruction to meet their unique needs. Your child’s unique needs can include challenging behaviors.
  • Receive the supports and services they need to succeed.

Resources (Spanish)