Know your rights! (What is IDEA?)

You have certain rights as a parent of a child with disabilities. 

The school district has to follow rules and regulations that protect students and families. These rules make sure that your child is getting what the law says they can get.

The school district is required by federal law to do these things: 

  • Give you information in your preferred language 
  • Evaluate all children who they suspect might benefit from special education services
  • Send you written notice of upcoming IEP meetings
  • Send you progress reports as often as the school sends reports to parents of students without disabilities
  • Stick to a specific timeline when you go through the process 

IDEA is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  

It's the federal law that supports special education in every state. IDEA requires all public schools to provide services to students with disabilities from age 3-21. It gives all students the right to a free education that meets their needs.

IDEA gives these rights to all children who qualify because of a disability: 

  • The right to a "Free and Appropriate Public Education"(FAPE)
  • Services to support their learning needs from age 3-21
  • An evaluation if you have concerns, paid for by the school
  • An education in the "least restrictive environment" (LRE). This means adapting the classroom setting to let them be in a regular classroom with typical peers, if possible. 
  • Every child has a legal right to get this from their public school system. Students with disabilities have a right to get FAPE that meets their unique needs.
  • What does "appropriate" mean?
  • Students should be getting the support they need to make effective academic progress, and meet the goals that they and their families have set for them
  • It may be very different for different students.
  • If you think your child is not getting an education that meets their unique needs, then you could argue that it is not appropriate.
  • The IDEA law requires that students with disabilities must be taught with their non-disabled peers as much as possible.  
  • The LRE for each child is the closest they can get to being in a typical classroom.  
  • If extra supports and services will allow your child to make progress in the regular classroom, then that’s what the school must offer.  Only if that’s not possible will your child go to a more restrictive setting like a special needs classroom. 
  • The most restrictive environment is a special needs school or hospital-based setting.



Learn More:

Click on this page to open it in a new window: Disagree with the school? An overview of what you can do. (Then come back to this tab to continue.)


Source: IDEA