Educational Rights

Comparison of Section 504 & IDEA

This chart outlines Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and its comparison to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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Conflict Resolution Options in Special Education

Learn the ways to formally address and resolve disputes related to Special Education services and supports.

Learn About Your Options

Considering LRE 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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Contents of an IEP

Every student who is eligible for Special Education services will have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with goals and services designed to meet his or her special needs. This plan will be designed with inputs from parents and educators.

Understand the Contents of an IEP

Dispute Resolution Comparison

This table compares the options for dispute resolution.

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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.

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Extent of Nonparticipation

This short article addresses the component of the IEP we'll call "extent of nonparticipation."

Learn About Extent of Nonparticipation

Federal IDEA Regulations

Learn More About Resources for Understanding the Statue and Regulations

Discover Resources

Federal IDEA Resources

The topic areas page includes information and resources related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from the U.S. Department of Education (Department), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and other Federal agencies. This page also includes resources developed by technical assistance centers funded by the Department and other Federal agencies.

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Find a Family Educator Partner Through AEA

Disagreement among IEP team members can create a richer discussion and more innovative approaches to address an issue. There are formal and informal ways to help work through those issues. For parents, ASK recommends putting concerns in writing, and asking schools to respond in writing. Another good way to address a concern informally could be getting in contact with a Family Educator Partner through your AEA.

Explore AEA Partners

Free 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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Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. This law applies to public elementary and secondary schools, among other entities. Any organization receiving federal financial assistance is forbidden from denying an individual's right to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services. Each school district should have a 504 Procedures Guide or Policy Manual available for families and a staff designated as the 504 Coordinator.

Learn More About Section 504

How to File a Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights

Educational institutions have a responsibility to protect every student's right to learn in a safe environment free from unlawful discrimination and to prevent unjust deprivations of that right. The Office for Civil Rights enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

Learn How

How to File a Discrimination Complaint

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces five federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

Contact the Office for Civil Rights

Iowa Civil Rights Commission

Learn more about your rights, the services provided and more resources the Iowa Civil Rights Commission offers.

Learn About the Iowa Civil Rights Commission

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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Legal Resources in Iowa

ASK Resource Center maintains a list of private attorneys and statewide programs that may be able to assist or represent individuals with disabilities in issues related to disability law and Special Education Mediation, as well as establishing competency, guardianship, and special needs trusts.

Explore Legal Resources

Parent Orientation to Special Education

Here is a video from Heartland Area Education Agency that offers a brief overview and introductory information for families who are new to the Special Education process.

Watch the Video

Prior Written Notice

Many parents think that they need to sign the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) document, indicating agreement, before changes can be made to their child's IEP but the process doesn't work that way in Iowa. Instead, the Prior Written Notice (also referred to as PWN) is the documentation that is required to be provided to families after an IEP meeting where significant changes to the IEP are being proposed.

Understand Prior Written Notice

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.

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Q&A about 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 -- the solid foundation IDEA provides for parental involvement in the special education process.

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Sample Letter Requesting 504

Read this sample letter for requesting an accommodation plan.

Read the Sample

Sample Letter Requesting Evaluation

Download a sample letter to use as a resource when requesting an evaluation.

Download the Template

Sample Letter Requesting PWN

Read through our sample letter for requesting prior written notice.

Download the Sample

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.

Learn the Six Principles

Smart IEPs

If you are like many parents, you feel anxious and insecure at IEP meetings. What do you know? What can you offer? What should you do? Some parents believe that if they are not educators, they have nothing of value to offer in planning their child's educational program. Other parents realize that their child's IEP is not appropriate but do not know how to resolve the problem. There are ways to get involved.

Find Out How to Get Involved in the IEP Process

Special Education Process

Learn how the special education process works from evaluation to IEPs.

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Student Involvement in the IEP 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.

Help Students Get Involved