Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Your Child's Rights
To understand your child's rights in America's public schools, it helps to start with one of the primary laws governing the education of children with disabilities: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (P.L. 101-476). IDEA is a federal law that guarantees a free and appropriate public education for every child with a disability. This means that if you enroll your child in public school, his/her education should be at no cost to you and should be appropriate for his/her age, ability and developmental level. IDEA is an amended version of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142), passed in 1975. In 1997, IDEA was reauthorized (P.L. 105-17), further defining children's rights to educational services and strengthening the role of parents in the educational planning process for their children.
Getting a copy of IDEA
Copies of the IDEA law and/or regulations are available from the Government Printing Office or may be available at your public library. Your state senator may also be able to provide you with a copy. Or you can visit the Web site of the Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE) project, run by the PACER Center and funded by the U.S. Department of Education or the IDEA Partnerships Web site at http://www.ideapractices.org/ for information on the law and its regulations.
IDEA has both statutes and regulations. The IDEA statute is the governing legislation - the language of the law, and the regulations are an explanation of how the law is to be enacted. The law explains what conditions exist; the regulations explain how these conditions are applied.
Learn more about:
- Appropriate vs. Ideal
- Placement Options
Appropriate vs. Ideal
Given the rights your child has to educational services, you must keep in mind that IDEA establishes the minimum requirements schools must provide. For states to receive federal funds, they must meet the eligibility funding criteria of IDEA. States may exceed the requirements and provide more services. They cannot, however, provide less or have state regulations or practices that contradict the guidelines of IDEA.
The federal regulations do not require states to provide an "ideal" educational program or a program the parents may feel is "best." The state must provide an appropriate educational program, one that meets the needs of the individual student.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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