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Special Education Topic: Update on Changes in Special Education
- Those involved in the Special Education field are currently sorting through many transitions and changes. To parents, this can seem overwhelming and confusing. What does it mean to you and your kid? What resources are available to help you through the process? Click here for more info

Click here to view California Specific Laws and News

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (formerly called P.L. 94-142 or the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.

IDEA requires public school systems to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP's) for each child. The specific special education and related services outlined in each IEP reflect the individualized needs of each student.

IDEA also mandates that particular procedures be followed in the development of the IEP. Each student's IEP must be developed by a team of knowledgeable persons and must be at least reviewed annually. The team includes the child's teacher; the parents, subject to certain limited exceptions; the child, if determined appropriate; an agency representative who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education; and other individuals at the parents' or agency's discretion.

If parents disagree with the proposed IEP, they can request a due process hearing and a review from the State educational agency if applicable in that state. They also can appeal the State agency's decision to State or Federal court.

Statistics in California for the 2002-2003 school year do not support
Congress' underlying premise.

  • Attorneys were responsible for less than 40% of all requests for
    due process hearings.
  • With respect to due process decisions rendered, parents won all or
    part of those cases approximately 72% of the time when represented by an
  • When parents represented themselves, they lost 75% of the time.
  • School districts where represented by an attorney in approximately
    80% of the cases decided.
  • In cases where school districts were represented by an attorney,
    they lost all or part of the cases approximately 58% of the time.
Information Regarding IDEIA 2004:
Department of Education
Wrightslaw Article – “Why I’m Optimistic”
Wrightslaw Article – “How IEPs Will Change”

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Type An education statute that governs all special education programs in the U.S. • Section 504 is a civil rights statute that protects disabled children from discrimination in school
• It applies not only to education, but to employment and recreation as well
Eligibility • A student must meet the eligibility criteria for at least one of the specific categories which include specific learning disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, autism, hearing impairments (including deafness), visual impairments (including blindness), orthopedic impairments, traumatic brain injury, speech of language impairments and other health impairments (impairment in strength, vitality or alertness, including heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, due to chronic or acute health problems).
• The disability must adversely affect the child’s educational performance and the child must require special education.•
• The student must have a physical of mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (Learning is considered a major life activity),
• Has a record of such impairment,
• Is regarded as having such an impairment
• The student is not required to need special education in order to be protected
• The student may only need related services
Evaluation IDEA is very specific regarding the multi-disciplinary evaluation procedure and requires re-evaluation every three years.
• If parent disagrees with district’s evaluation, provides for independent educational evaluation at district expense under certain circumstances
• Section 504 requires nondiscriminatory testing but it is not as specific as IDEA.
• Does not provide for independent evaluations at district expense
Free Appropriate Public Education • IDEA requires FAPE
• An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed to provide an “educational benefit” with parent participation and must be reviewed annually
• Section 504 requires FAPE
• “Appropriate” education means an education comparable to the education provided to non-disabled students
Least Restrictive Environment • Disabled students must be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with non-disabled students
• A student must be educated as close to home as possible
• Disabled students must be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with non-disabled students
Due Process • Parents have the right to request an impartial due process hearing when the school is proposing any change in placement or services for the child
• Delineates specific requirements
• A due process hearing under IDEA has a hearing officer appointed by the state education agency.
• “Stay-put” provision
• Parents may request an impartial hearing but Section 504 references IDEA procedures as just one of the ways to meet the requirement.
• Section 504 allows the district to appoint an impartial hearing officer.
• Section 504 does not have a “stay-put” provision


LET US ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS. Call 888 IDEA-ADA (888-4332-232), or email us at inquiry@a2zedad.com for more information.


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