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Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) FAQ

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a special education law. It provides important protections to students with disabilities. This federal law ensures that eligible students receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) possible.

IDEA covers everything from early intervention services to transition planning for high school students. It's about ensuring every child receives the educational services they need to succeed, respecting their unique needs and rights.

Let's explore frequently asked questions about IDEA.

What does the IDEA law do?

IDEA is a powerful civil rights law that ensures students with disabilities get equal opportunities for education as everyone else. Under IDEA, public schools must offer special education services to help students with disabilities learn in a way that works for them. This includes creating an individualized education plan or program (IEP) for each eligible student.

IDEA also includes procedural safeguards to ensure each student's rights are respected throughout the school year. The IDEA provides federal funding to states and local school districts to help pay the costs of special education and related services, such as speech and language therapy and physical therapy.

How does IDEA work?

IDEA works by identifying students who need extra help. Once a student is found eligible, a team of experts and the child's family create an IEP. This plan is tailored to the child's individual needs, including specific learning disabilities, autism, or other impairments. The IEP sets goals and outlines the special education services the child will receive. IDEA also requires that students be taught as much as possible in the general education classroom.

What is an individualized education program (IEP)?

An IEP is an individualized education plan or program, depending on your state. An IEP is a very important document for children with disabilities. It's like a map that guides their education. A team creates the IEP to ensure the child gets the special education services they need. The IEP looks at the child's needs and identifies the specific help they will receive.

The IEP also includes how the child's progress will be checked and how often the IEP team will meet to review the plan. It's a flexible plan that can change as the child grows and changes. The IEP is a key part of IDEA, ensuring every child receives a free and appropriate public education.

What factors are considered when developing an IEP for a child?

When developing an IEP, the team looks at the eligible child's unique needs. They look at the student's academic level, social skills, and any physical or emotional challenges they face. The plan aims to help the child learn as much as possible the general education curriculum and participate in school activities. The IEP includes specific goals and the services needed to reach these goals, like speech therapy or extra help in reading, for example.

Who is on the IEP team?

The IEP team is a group of people who work together to create the best education plan for the child. It usually includes the child's parents, teachers, a school psychologist, and sometimes, the child. They bring different perspectives to ensure the IEP addresses all aspects of the child's education and personal growth. They hold annual IEP meetings.

Can a sibling be part of the student's IEP?

While siblings aren't usually official IEP team members, they can offer valuable insights. Parents might include siblings in meetings or discussions if they think it will help create a better plan for their child.

Will I know whether my child participates in regular school activities?

Yes. The IEP team discusses how the child can be part of regular school activities. IDEA aims to have students with disabilities learn alongside their peers as much as possible. The team will talk about any support the child might need to participate in school life.

Are IDEA regulations friendly to parents?

IDEA gives parents a strong voice in their child's education. Parents have the right to be part of the IEP team and make decisions about their child's education. They also have the right to know what's happening at school and to use procedural safeguards if they disagree with the school's decisions.

What if I disagree with the proposed IEP for my child?

IDEA requires states to provide and pay for a voluntary mediation system for parents and schools. This mediation system includes a qualified and impartial mediator. This measure is directed at reducing litigation costs and the adversarial posturing that sometimes occurs between schools and parents of students with disabilities.

In addition, the parents can request a due process hearing and a review from the state educational agency, if applicable. A decision of the state educational agency can be appealed in either state or federal court.

Does IDEA cover the full cost of my child's special education?

IDEA provides funding to help with the cost of special education. But it doesn't always cover everything. Sometimes, schools and parents may need additional resources or support. However, the law does ensure that the education and related services in the IEP are provided at no cost to the family.

Does an IEP prepare my student for college/career?

Yes. Transition planning is a key part of an IEP for older students. This includes preparing them for college, career, or independent living after high school. The IEP team will discuss the student's goals and the skills they need to succeed after school.

Can I change an IEP if it doesn't help my child?

Yes. If an IEP isn't working, parents and the IEP team can schedule a meeting to revise it. The goal is to ensure that the IEP always meets the child's changing needs and helps them progress.

How do I request an IEP from the school?

To request an IEP, you can contact your child's school and ask for an evaluation. This is the first step to see if your child is eligible for special education services under IDEA.

Getting Legal Help With IDEA

Talk to a lawyer if you need legal help understanding IDEA or dealing with school issues. An experienced attorney can help you navigate special education laws. They can also help you amend your child's IEP and advocate for them in the school system.

Speak to an experienced education attorney.

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