Three Very Important Laws

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Three federal laws provide the framework for most IEP laws and regulations. These laws are the Individuals with Disabilities and Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act. These three federal laws are binding in all states. States do not have to limit protection for people with disabilities based on these three laws. Instead these laws are the minimum protection each state must provide. States may even mandate more protection than these laws. But they must never provide less protection than the federal laws mandate.


IDEA guarantees four basic rights to children with disabilities. The first of these rights is a Free and Appropriate Public Education (commonly called FAPE). This means that children with disabilities are entitled to a public education that is appropriate to their needs, and it must be at no cost to their families (Medicaid may be billed, but this is still not a cost to the families). Districts need to provide the least restrictive environment necessary to educate the child - if it is possible, children with disabilities must be educated alongside their non-disabled peers. Some services may be provided in a different area, but only when this is necessary to achieve a specific goal that has been included in the IEP. Children with disabilities must be provided with supplementary aids and services that will support them in benefitting educationally from their instructional program. The final right is the right to have a child assessed if the parent or teacher feels that the child may need additional support to achieve a years growth in school during one year. This assessment may only be completed with a parent's informed and written consent.


IDEA includes many protections to make sure that the rights in the Act are actually made available to children with disabilities. Below are three often used protections:


Individualized Education Plan (IEP):

Due process rights are available to ensure that no changes are made to the child's individualized and specialized program without prior notice to parents. Additionally, due process provides a mechanism for the resolution of disagreements about the child's educational program.l, general and special education teachers, the child's parents or legal guardian, and a school administrator.


Due Process:

Due process rights are availble to ensure that no changes are made to the child's individualized and specialized program without prior notice to parents. Additionally, due process provides a mechanism for the resolution of disagreements about the child's educational program.


Stay Put:

As part of due process, while an IEP or FAPE is in dispute the parent has the right to have the child stay put in the current program, until the dispute is resolved. This is often referred to as the "stay put" law. The child will "stay put" until an agreement is reached and the parent has provided informed consent for the new IEP, or until a judge issues a ruling on a due process issue.




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