What Rights Do Students Have Under the IDEA?

What Rights Do Students Have Under the IDEA?

Originally created in 1975 and amended in 2004, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) serves to ensure that all children with disabilities are provided with “equality of educational opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.” Its purpose is to restrict education problems that come with low expectations and a lack of focus on alternative research, teaching methods, and tools. This provides students with certain rights and holds schools responsible for children with disabilities. The following are the main principles of the IDEA:

Free Appropriate Public Education

Every child with disabilities is entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under the IDEA. The services that are available to special education students are designed to meet their “unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.” In addition to this, the act requires schools to provide Individualized Education Plans for children with disabilities. This focuses on raised student expectations and appropriate progress as well as transition into postsecondary education and independent living.

Appropriate Evaluations

IDEA requires schools to conduct appropriate evaluations of students who they believe have disabilities. These evaluations must be done by a team of trained evaluators who utilize proper materials and procedures on a non-discriminatory basis. These must be geared toward future planning for the child and make recommendations regarding the child’s eligibility for special education services. 

Individualized Education Plans

The Individualized Education Plan was established by the IDEA to ensure every child has access to FAPE. The IEP is a written document that is developed by an IEP team. It uses existing evaluation information about a student in order to meet their specific educational needs. This must include information regarding the student’s present levels of educational performance, services and aids to be received, annual goals, and more. In addition to this, it must account for any planning concerns of the parent and child, the child’s strengths, and the child’s needs.

Least Restrictive Environment

Under the IDEA, students are guaranteed placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) possible. It is because of this that an IEP team is required to discover alternatives for a student to participate in the general education classrooms. This can include classroom modifications, supplemental aids and services, alternative instructional methods, and more.

Parent Participation

A special provision exists in the IDEA for “parent participation in placement decisions.” This ensures that state educational agencies and local school boards includes the child’s parents in any group that makes decisions regarding their placement. 

Procedural Safeguards

Procedural safeguards are established to help parents and students enforce their rights under federal law. This ensures two things: 

  • Safeguards protect parental access to information regarding placement and transition planning
  • Procedures are put in place to resolve any disagreements that arise between parents and schools regarding placement

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