Educational Rights

Alternative Methods of Conflict Resolution

At ASK, we routinely receive calls from tired, frustrated and overwhelmed parents who say, "I can't get the school district to give my child what he needs. I just want to sue somebody!" While we sympathize with those feelings, we have learned through our experience with hundreds of parents and children that "suing" somebody is usually not a productive way to resolve differences and can actually be counterproductive to what the parent really wants for their child.

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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.

See the Table

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

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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

IDEA and Section 504 Comparison

Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1974 is a national law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. Each school district should have a 504 Procedures Guide or Policy Manual available for families to request and a staff designated as the 504 Coordinator.

See the Chart

IEP Goals

The special education IEP process is a logical one. Each year the IEP team, which includes parents, develops an IEP for an eligible child. The child's present levels of performance determine the educational needs of the child. The team develops goals to meet those needs.

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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

Iowa's Guidance for Quality IEPs

This area of the Department of Education website provides information for Iowa's special education practitioners. It is hoped that by using the information on this website, Iowa's special education practitioners will be able to lead teams as they develop IEPs that will positively direct the education of all the students in Iowa with special education needs.

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Least Restrictive Environment

The IDEA requires IEP teams to consider utilizing appropriate services and supports so that each student can be educated with their peers to the maximum extent that is appropriate for them. This is important because when students with disabilities are included with their peers, it can help to create friendships and a community of acceptance and understanding.

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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

Parent Participation in Developing the IEP

Being a parent is the most wonderful-and hardest-job in the world. If you have a child with special needs, your job is no less wonderful, but it can be more complicated. Your child's education is most likely an area of great interest to you. As a child with a disability, he or she may be eligible for special education services in school.

Learn About Developing an IEP

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

Q&A about IDEA: Parent Participation

How does IDEA ensure that families have meaningful opportunities to participate? That will be the focus of this Q&A-the solid foundation IDEA provides for parental involvement.

Read the Q&A

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 Basic Principles of IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that created and governs special education. The law entitles eligible children with disabilities ot the specially designed instruction and individualized services and supports they need to benefit from a free public education. There are six basic principles of 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

Six Principles of IDEA

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

There's a very simple and common sense reason why IDEA 2004 requires that students with disabilities be invited to attend every IEP meeting where postsecondary transition goals will be considered: It's their lives.

Help Students Get Involved