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Individuals with Disabilities Education and Improvement Act

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education and Improvement Act) requires public and charter schools to provide special education services to eligible students with disabilities. Since first passed in 1975, IDEA has improved educational opportunities for students with disabilities by providing access to their educational programs.

Six principles of IDEA are:

  1. FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) states special education and related services be offered to eligible children with disabilities, ages 3 to 22, at no cost to parents.
  2. Evaluations are done to gather information. The student's eligibility, strengths and educational needs are identified. An IEP (Individualized Educational Program) is developed.
  3. An IEP outlines special education and related services needed by the student. It must be reviewed at least once a year.
  4. LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) states students with disabilities shall attend their neighborhood schools whenever possible.
  5. Parent and student participation in the decision making process is important. Students should be encouraged to participate in all meetings.
  6. Procedural due process protects the rights of parents and students with a disability. It gives families and schools a way to resolve disputes.

IDEA requires an IEP be developed for each student who meets the disability/eligibility standards. An IEP is based on a student's strengths, interests and needs. Goals should include planning for education, post-education training, employment, and independent living. Utah's Special Education Rules will provide information.