The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes a free appropriate public education available to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.

IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities would have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has since been revised many times.

The primary purposes of IDEA are:

  • To provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. IDEA requires schools to find and evaluate students suspected of having disabilities, at no cost to parents. Once students are identified as having a disability, schools must provide them with special education and related services (like speech therapy and counseling) to meet their unique needs. The goal is to help students make progress in school. (Please look under FAPE for more information on our website).

  • To give parents a voice in determining their child’s education. Under IDEA, you have a say in the educational decisions the school makes about your child. At every point of the process, the law gives you specific rights and protections. These are called procedural safeguards. For example, one safeguard is that the school must receive your consent before providing services to your child.

If you think your child needs special education services, you must follow a legal process to make it happen, starting with an evaluation. You can request an evaluation for special education at any time. IDEA provides rights and protections to children with disabilities and to their families. Understanding your rights under IDEA can make it easier for your child to get the help he/she needs (and is legally entitled to) at school.

Parts in IDEA :

  • Part A – General Provisions
  • Part B – Assistance for Education of All Children with Disabilities (school age children preschool – age 21)
  • Part C – Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Age 0- 3)
  • Part D – National Activities to Improve Education of Children with Disabilities
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