The Principles of IDEA Law

Free and Appropriate Public Education for Students with Disabilities: Requirements Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, including federal funds. Section 504 provides that: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . ."

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Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

All school-age children with disabilities who are eligible for a 504 or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). FAPE requires students with disabilities receive the services they need to benefit from their education.

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Q&A about Part B of IDEA: Parent Participation

How does the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensure that families have meaningful opportunities to participate? That is the focus of this in-depth Q&A.

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Six Principles of IDEA

There are six basic principles of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that help to outline the expectations of the law. Here is a brief overview and introductory information for families who are new to the Special Education process.

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Federal IDEA Regulations

The U.S. Department of Education issues regulations to implement the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Learn More at the U.S. Department of Education

Find a Family Educator Partner (FEP)

Modeling an effective collaborative partnership, the FEP is staffed by a family coordinator who brings the perspective of a parent with a child having special needs and an educator coordinator who brings the perspective of an educator. Each of Iowa's Area Education Agencies (AEAs) employ these staff to guide the program within the AEA. They collaborate directly with parents, local education agencies, and agencies outside the educational system.

Learn More from the Iowa Department of Education

Considering Least Restrictive Environment in Placement Decisions

Where will a student with a disability receive his or her special education and related services? IDEA requires placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE) for each child, a setting that is based on the child's IEP.

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Prior Written Notice

A Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a written explanation of a change the school district or AEA wants to make or refuses to make in a child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP). It is important that parents understand what the school plans to do (or not do) for their child. A PWN must give parents the information they need to actively participate in making decisions about their child's educational program and services.

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Sample Letter Requesting Prior Written Notice

This is an example letter for parents requesting written notice. The most important parts of the letter will be the blanks filled in with details from the parents! Parents are welcome to use part or all of the sample letter.

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Least Restrictive Environment

One of the components of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the expectation that student with IEP's should be educated alongside their non-disabled peers (in the General Education classroom) as much as it is appropriate, which is referred to as the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for that student.

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Early ACCESS Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents Rights for Children Ages Birth - 3

State and federal laws and regulations outline what needs to happen for eligible infants and toddlers with conditions or developmental delays to enhance their growth and development. The following document serves as your procedural safeguards notice and will help you understand the rights available to you and your child through federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 Part C and the Iowa Administrative Rules for Early ACCESS Integrated System of Early Intervention Services.

Learn More at the Iowa Department of Education

Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents Rights for Children Ages 3-21

The Notice of Procedural Safeguards: Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities explains the specific rights and responsibilities of the parent in the special education process. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 requires school districts to give parents the Procedural Safeguards only one time a year, except upon initial referral or on request for evaluation, the first occurrence of the filing of a due process hearing complaint, or upon request by a parent. This document is available in six different languages.

Learn More at the Iowa Department of Education

Procedural Safeguard Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education)

Parents have rights, known as procedural safeguards, which apply to every aspect of the special education process. State and federal laws and regulations outline what needs to happen to ensure that children with identified disabilities and on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This document serves as your procedural safeguards notice and will help you understand the rights available to you and your child through a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education.

Read the EducateIowa.Gov PDF

Independent Educational Evaluations

In Iowa, evaluations for special education eligibility are usually done by Area Education Agency personnel, together with the educators at your child's school. However, parents have the right to other options if they believe the information described in the Educational Evaluation Report (EER) is incorrect or incomplete.

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Reevaluation

When a child has an IEP, the federal law requires IEP teams to consider reevaluating the student at least every 3 years. Parents can also request that their child be reevaluated up to once per year. This is most often helpful when there are new issues coming up at school related to the disability or the child has received a new diagnosis that may impact him or her at school.

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The IEP Team

To write an effective IEP for a child with a disability, parents, teachers, other school staff-and often the child-come together at a meeting to look closely at the child's unique needs. These individuals combine their knowledge, experience, and commitment to design an educational program that must help the child to be involved in, and progress in, the general education curriculum-that is, the same curriculum as for children without disabilities.

Learn More at the Parent Center Hub

Student Involvement in the Individualized Education Program Process

IDEA requires that students with disabilities be invited to attend every IEP meeting where postsecondary transition goals will be considered. This page offers resources you can use to involve students with disabilities in planning their own transitions into adulthood.

Learn More at the Parent Center Hub