What Did the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act Do?

In 1975, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was created to provide a free and appropriate public education for all children with disabilities. The law guarantees that children with disabilities will receive the same opportunity for education as their peers, regardless of family income, location or school district boundaries. In the years since it was initially passed, the IDEA has been amended several times to include more specific guidelines for children with special needs. 

What Are the 4 Parts of IDEA?

The IDEA is broken down into four parts that are meant to address different disparities in educational access. Sections of the IDEA statute include:

  • Part A — General Provisions
  • Part B  — Assistance for All Children with Disabilities
  • Part C — Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
  • Part D — National Activities to Improve Education of Children with Disabilities

Part A lays out the general provisions of the IDEA, such as the law’s purpose and the definitions of terms used in the IDEA. Part B details grants available to assist states in offering a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21, while the provisions of Part C explain grants available to help states provide early intervention services for infants and toddlers up to age two and their families. Finally, Part D describes discretionary grants to support state personnel development, technical assistance and dissemination, technology, and parent-training and information centers.

What Violates IDEA?

The IDEA identifies six fundamental principles that school districts must follow to comply with the lie. If a district fails to follow any of these principles, it has violated the IDEA.

Free Appropriate Public Education

The IDEA states that every child with a disability is entitled to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), emphasizing special education and related services designed to meet the child’s unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.

Appropriate Evaluation

Another requirement detailed in the IDEA is that schools must conduct appropriate evaluations of students who are suspected of having a disability. For a disability evaluation to be appropriate under the IDEA, it must be conducted by a team of knowledgeable and trained evaluators, use valid evaluation materials and procedures, and be administered without discrimination.

Individualized Education Program

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written document that describes the educational plan that has been prepare for a student with a disability. IDEA requires schools to create IEPs that confer meaningful educational benefits to children with disabilities. The document must include specific information about the child and the plan that has been developed to meet their educational needs.

Least Restrictive Environment

Under the IDEA, schools must place students with disabilities in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) possible, with a goal of allowing the child to participate in the general education classroom as often as it is workable. If an IEP team concludes that a child cannot receive a FAPE in a general education setting, the IEP must allow for the child’s education to occur in the LRE that is appropriate for the student’s needs.

Parent Participation

The IDEA grants parents the right to equal participation in placement and IEP decisions made for their children. School officials must guarantee that the parents of a child with a disability are included in any group that makes decisions about the child and must notify parents of planned evaluations. Parents must also receive access to planning and evaluation materials, and they maintain the right to decline additional evaluations of their child. 

Procedural Safeguards

Certain procedural safeguards exist to assist parents and students in enforcing their rights under the IDEA law. Some of these procedural safeguards include a parent’s right to review their child’s educational records, receive notification of meetings regarding their child’s evaluation, placement, or identification, and obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) of their child.

When Should I Contact an Education Attorney?

The IDEA envisions a process of identifying and educating children with disabilities that is collaborative and non-confrontation. In a perfect world, districts and parents would join together to ensure that every child with a disability receives a Free Appropriate Public Education. Sadly, in the real world, this process is often more of a battle, particularly when schools attempt to deny a child with a disability the services they need.  

If your child has a disability and their school district has violated the IDEA, you should contact an education attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable education attorney can help you understand your child’s rights and fight to ensure your child gets the education they are legally entitled to receive.

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