Education Rights (Youth & Young Adult Legal Issues Edition)


What education rights apply to all students?

  • All kids living in the United States have the right to a free public education.
  • Schools cannot discriminate based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, or disability in providing educational  services, activities, and programs, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Contact MLSA with any questions.
  • Additional information on your educational rights are avaliable from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.


What can the school provide if I am a student who needs additional supports?

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

IDEA provides funding for school programs designed to meet students’ diverse educational needs. The accommodations, supports, and services provided are free to students and their families. Learning disabilities can be addressed and overcome.

First, a request for an educational evaluation must be made. You, a parent or guardian, or a school staff member may make the request to the school. The evaluation results will determine if you qualify for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is a plan made to address your specific learning needs. Your teacher and other school staff evaluate your plan as you progress through school to make sure goals are being met and you are getting the support you need.


504 Plan

A 504 plan is a formal plan developed by the school to remove barriers and give students with disabilities the support they need. The plan offers services and changes to the learning environment that allows students to learn alongside their classmates. You have a say in the details of your plan.

If you feel like you need help, speak up! You have rights but sometimes you have to ask for them. You are not alone.


Other than MLSA, who can I contact if I believe I am being discriminated against by my school?



Take Action


Legal Help

  • Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil, non-criminal legal help to eligible clients. Apply for free legal help by calling 1-800-666-6899 or applying online.
  • Contact your nearest Self Help Law Center for free legal information and forms.


Non-Legal Resources

  • The Youth Homelessness Development Project (YHDP) is designed to support Montana service providers in the development and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness. More information is avaliable at the YHDP website.
  • County resource guides provide an up-to-date list of avaliable help centers.



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Last Review and Update: Mar 17, 2023
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