What Parents Need To Know About IDEA And Special Education

iep Oct 01, 2022
Background of school supplies, with a white box over the picture with a teal writing the says

What Parents Need To Know About IDEA And Special Education

 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that governs the delivery of special education services to students with disabilities. IDEA ensures that students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

IDEA defines a student with a disability as someone who has an impairment that adversely affects their educational performance and requires specialized instruction and related services. Special education services are designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities and include individualized education programs (IEPs), modified curriculum, and supplemental aids and services. If you have a child with a disability, it’s important to understand your rights under IDEA and how to advocate for your child’s education. Keep reading to learn more about IDEA and special education!

 

What is IDEA, and what does it do?

 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that governs the delivery of special education services to students with disabilities. IDEA ensures that students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). IDEA defines a student with a disability as someone who has an impairment that adversely affects their educational performance and requires specialized instruction and related services. Special education services are designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities and include things like individualized education programs (IEPs), modified curriculum, and supplemental aids and services. IDEA also requires schools to identify students who may need special education services and to evaluate them to determine if they do indeed qualify. If a student is found to qualify for special education services, the school must develop an IEP that outlines the student’s individualized education plan. The IEP is a document that is developed by a team of professionals and parents/guardians that outlines the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals for their education. IEPs must be reviewed and updated annually, and schools must provide progress reports to parents at least once per year. Schools must also make a good faith effort to implement the IEP, and they must provide related services like transportation and counseling if they are required in the IEP. IDEA also provides protections for students in the form of due process rights. This means that if you disagree with the school about your child’s IEP or special education services, you have the right to request a due process hearing. This is a formal process where you can present your case to an impartial third party. If you are thinking about requesting a due process hearing, it’s important to understand the timeline and process. You should also reach out to an attorney or advocate who specializes in special education law to help you navigate the process.

 

How can IDEA help my child?

 

IDEA can help your child in several ways. First, IDEA guarantees your child the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). This means that if your child qualifies for special education services, the school must provide them with those services at no cost to you. IDEA also requires schools to identify students who may need special education services and to evaluate them to determine if they do indeed qualify. This evaluation process is important because it ensures that students with disabilities are not overlooked and that they receive the services they need to be successful in school. If your child is found to qualify for special education services, the school must develop an IEP that outlines the student’s individualized education plan. The IEP is a document that is developed by a team of professionals and parents/guardians that outlines the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals for their education. IEPs must be reviewed and updated annually, and schools must provide progress reports to parents at least four times a year. This is important because it allows you to track your child’s progress and ensure that they are making progress towards their goals. IDEA also provides protections for students in the form of due process rights. This means that if you disagree with the school about your child’s IEP or special education services, you have the right to request a due process hearing. This is a formal process where you can present your case to an impartial third party. If you are thinking about requesting a due process hearing, it’s important to understand the timeline and process. You should also reach out to an attorney or advocate who specializes in special education law to help you navigate the process.

 

Who is eligible for special education services?

 

To be eligible for special education services, a student must have an impairment that adversely affects their educational performance and requires specialized instruction and related services. Under IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – there are 13 categories that qualify a child for special education services.

 

These 13 categories are:

  1. Specific Learning Disability (SLD) – this includes a diagnosis of things like dyslexia, dyscalculia, or written expression disorder
  2. Other Health Impairment – this includes anything that limits or affects your child’s strength, focus, or energy
  3. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – this includes a wide range of developmental disabilities
  4. Emotional Disturbance – this can include mental health issues like bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression
  5. Speech or Language Impairment
  6. Visual Impairment – this can include blindness and partial sight
  7. Deafness – this can include children who cannot hear most sounds, even with a hearing aid
  8. Deaf-Blindness – this covers children who are both deaf and blind and need specific assistance
  9. Hearing Impairment – this includes hearing issues that are not covered by deafness
  10. Orthopedic Impairment – this can include things like cerebral palsy or paralysis
  11. Intellectual Disability – this can include below-average intellectual capabilities, poor communication, and challenges with self-care
  12. Traumatic Brain Injury – this includes injuries caused by a severe accident or physical force.
  13. Multiple Disabilities – this includes a child who has more than one disability covered by IDEA.

 

How do I get started?

 

If you think your child may need special education services, the first step is to reach out to your child’s school and request an evaluation. This evaluation will be used to determine if your child qualifies for special education services. The evaluation process can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that you are your child’s best advocate. Be sure to stay involved in the process and understand what the evaluation is looking for. If the evaluation finds that your child qualifies for special education services, the school must develop an IEP. Be sure to review the IEP carefully and participate in the process of developing it. This is your chance to ensure that your child’s unique needs are addressed. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s IEP or special education services, don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney or advocate specializing in special education law. They can help you understand your rights and advocate for your child’s education.

 

Other things to keep in mind

There are a few other things to keep in mind regarding IDEA and special education. First, IDEA is a federal law, but it is implemented at the state level. This means that each state implements IDEA, and the timelines can differ from state to state. However, the federal law sets the maximum time a state can take, and the federal law sets the minimum that each state has to provide. Therefore, it’s important to be familiar with the special education laws in your state so that you know what rights your child has. You can learn more about your state’s special education laws by contacting your state department of education or an attorney or advocate specializing in special education law. Second, IDEA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

 

Conclusion

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that governs the delivery of special education services to students with disabilities. IDEA ensures that students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). IDEA is an important law that can help your child in a number of ways. If you think your child may need special education services, the first step is to reach out to your child’s school and request an evaluation. Be sure to stay involved in the process and understand what the evaluation is looking for. If the evaluation finds that your child qualifies for special education services, the school must develop an IEP. Be sure to review the IEP carefully and participate in the process of developing it. This is your chance to ensure that your child’s unique needs are being addressed. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s IEP or special education services, don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney or advocate who specializes in special education law. They can help you understand your rights and advocate for your child’s education.

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