Special Education And The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), was signed into law in 1975 to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities. Appropriate is the key word of IDEA, because before it was passed, very few accommodations were provided for disabled students in state public school systems. Programs for disabled students before IDEA also kept these students isolated from the mainstream classrooms.

This act's two most important components were :

  1. It provides due process details for parents of disabled children. Parents have the rights to deal directly with the local school system or the state to ensure that their disabled child is getting an appropriate public education in a least restrictive environment. If the appropriate accommodations are not be made for their child's disability, or if the child is being kept unnecessarily socially isolated, parents can retain the services of a special education attorney to enforce the federal statute.
  2. It establishes permanent federal grants to states for them to implement the provisions of the Act. States that fail to provide disabled students with appropriate accommodations may have their federal funding reduced and find themselves entangled in civil litigation with special education attorneys acting on behalf of disabled students and their parents.

What are the main provisions of IDEA?

Rights for families of disabled students under IDEA include:

  • Have the child assessed for special education eligibility and educational needs
  • Access to their child's school records
  • Take part in an "individualized education program" (IEP) annually with the local school system to develop an educational plan for their child
  • Resolve conflicts with the school system through both administrative and legal means

Eligibility for special education under IDEA

Children with special educational needs include those with impairments such as:

  • Mental retardation
  • Autism
  • Hearing and speech issues
  • Vision problems (including blindness)
  • Emotional disorders
  • Physical mobility issues
  • Any other physical or psychological health problems

In order to be eligible for special education programs, evidence must be presented that validates both the presence of a disability and its detrimental effect on educational performance.

What happens after eligibility has been determined?

Annual IEP meetings are arranged to implement a specially designed program to meet the child's needs. The student's current educational performance is documented, as well as specific goals and objectives. At any point on the process, the parents of the disabled student may take any disputes to a neutral third party to resolve the issues.

For more information about your rights or the rights of your child under IDEA, contact a firm such as Law Office of Mark W Voigt.