The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IDEA Questions or Issues? Our Law Firm Can Assist Your Family

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires all public schools to offer a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities, and gives parents a say in the decisions the school makes for those children. IDEA also requires public schools to evaluate students suspected of having a disability at no cost to the parents. Once a student is diagnosed with an eligible disability, the school must to provide him or her with special education and related services to accommodate the disability.

If you suspect your school district is not fulfilling its obligations under IDEA, speak with an experienced special education lawyer. Our team at Woodsmall Law Group takes every child’s right to education very seriously. We focus exclusively on helping those with special needs and their families. For a free consultation, call our Pasadena law office at (626) 440-0028.

Qualifying for Special Education Support

Not every child with a disability qualifies for special education under IDEA. To qualify, your child must suffer from an impairment that adversely affects his or her educational performance. The 13 categories of disability accepted by IDEA are:

  • autism spectrum disorder,
  • deaf-blindness,
  • deafness,
  • emotional disturbance,
  • hearing impairment,
  • intellectual disability,
  • multiple disabilities,
  • orthopedic impairment,
  • other health impairments,
  • specific learning disability,
  • speech or language impairment,
  • traumatic brain injury, and
  • visual impairment.

For a more detailed breakdown of these disabilities, and to find out if your child qualifies, consult a special education attorney at Woodsmall Law Group.

The FAPE Process

The process for getting your child a Free Appropriate Public Education goes as follows:

  1. A child is identified as possibly needing special education. This identification can be made by a school professional, such as a teacher or counselor, or by the child’s parents.
  2. The identified child is evaluated for a disability. Evaluation can only be done with parental consent. If the parents disagree with the results of the evaluation, they have the right to take their child for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). The parents can request that the school system pay for this IEE.
  3. Qualified professionals, along with the parents, will look at the child’s evaluation results and determine whether the child qualifies as disabled under IDEA guidelines, and is eligible for special education. If the parents don’t agree with the eligibility decision, they may request a hearing to challenge that decision.
  4. Within 30 days of the child being found eligible for special education and related services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team must meet to design an IEP program.
  5. An IEP meeting is scheduled.
  6. The IEP meeting is held and the IEP is written. The IEP team must include:
    • The child’s parents
    • A representative of the school who has the power to commit school resources for the child, and is knowledgeable about both regular and special education
    • At least one of the child’s regular teachers
    • At least one of the child’s special education teachers
    • A school psychologist or other specialist who can interpret the child’s most recent evaluation and test results
    • Any other specialist who has knowledge about the child’s condition, such as a neurologist or psychiatrist who has treated the child
    • Representatives of any other parties or agencies involved in paying for the child’s special education
    • The child, if the child is old enough
  7. Special education and related services are provided for the child in accordance with the IEP. If the parents aren’t happy with the IEP, they can request mediation.
  8. The child’s progress toward the goals of the IEP is measured at regular intervals, with the results being reported to the parents.
  9. The child’s IEP is reviewed by the IEP team at least once a year, or more often if the parents or school system requests it. Changes to the IEP can be made in order to improve the child’s progress.
  10. At least every three years, the child is reevaluated to determine if he or she still qualifies as a “child with a disability.”

As you can see, the process of getting your child the help he or she needs is complex, ongoing, and involves many people. This is why it’s a good idea to have the representation of an experienced IDEA attorney throughout the process. Woodsmall Law Group is passionate about defending the rights of disabled children and their families. We believe every child deserves a quality education, despite any disabilities they may have. If you feel your child is not receiving the services stipulated in the IDEA, please call our office at (626) 440-0028 for a free case evaluation.

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