The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, more commonly simply referred to as IDEA, was adopted in 1975 and amended again in 2004. Under this act, children with disabilities, as well as their parents, are granted many rights as they pertain to education. Below are six of the most important rights every parent should know about to ensure their child is treated fairly and justly while at school.
Free Appropriate Public Education
The Act states that every child with a disability has the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Under IDEA, this is more than the right to education that all children in the country enjoy; instead, it places a focus on special education and related services within public schools to ensure that the unique needs of a child with a disability are met. FAPE also mandates that public schools provide these services to prepare children with disabilities for continuing education, employment, and independent living.
In the past, courts have also ruled that schools must prepare Individualized Education Plans for children with disabilities. One of the requirements of these plans is that they must focus on raised student expectations, progress that is appropriate, and enable them to continue on into postsecondary education and independent living.
IDEA states that all children with a suspected disability are given an appropriate evaluation. Knowledgeable and trained evaluators must administer these evaluations and, while doing so, must include sound evaluation materials and procedures. The act also protects against discrimination during these evaluations.
Once evaluations are complete, evaluators must recommend special education services based on a child’s eligibility. The act requires these evaluations are done in a timely manner in order to get children with disabilities the appropriate services they require.
Individualized Education Plan
The individualized education plan, often referred to as an IEP, is a document that includes a child’s degree of educational performance, yearly goals, and benchmark objectives. Any services and supplementary aids provided to a child are also included in a proper IEP, as well as detailed explanations of any instances in which a child could not participate in a general classroom setting. If a parent or child has any concerns about their plan, it’s important these are also included in the plan. They should also outline a child’s strengths and specific needs.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
IDEA states that children with disabilities are to remain in the least restrictive environment possible, but this does not mean that they cannot take part in a general classroom setting. Instead, it simply means that modifications are made to classrooms when they are required. Alternative instructional methods and supplemental aids and services are just a few examples of turning a general classroom into the least restrictive environment for a child with disabilities.
IDEA does recognize that a general classroom is not always the best environment for a child with disabilities. When this is the case, an IEP team is responsible for determining the LRE most suitable for a specific child.
IDEA does not just provide rights for children with disabilities, but for their parents, too. State educational agencies are required to allow the parents of a child with a disability to participate in any group that makes decisions pertaining to the placement and LRE of their child.
Under this provision, parents must receive notification of planned evaluations, have access to planning and evaluation materials, and be allowed to participate equally in any meeting about the child.
Lastly, the act provides procedural safeguards to ensure all requirements of the act are met. When they are not, parents can request mediation or due process hearings with state educational agencies, or they can appeal the case in a state or federal court.
Contact an Oklahoma Education Attorney Familiar with IDEA
IDEA is a comprehensive federal law that ensures the rights of children with disabilities are upheld. It is though, extensive, and often it is difficult for parents to understand what rights they and their children have under the act. It is for this reason that any parent who believes that their child’s rights are not being upheld speak to an education lawyer in Oklahoma right away.
If you have a child with disabilities and feel as though they are not being treated properly by their school, contact Banks, Gillett, Gillett, PLLC today at (405) 607-4800. We have the necessary experience to stand up for children not receiving proper treatment and know how to hold schools and school districts responsible. Let us be an advocate for you and your child. Call us today for your free consultation.