The six principles of the IDEA

As a parent of a child with intellectual and mental disabilities in Iowa, you have the right to ensure your child receives the best possible education services. This is where the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) comes in. IDEA has six main principles that every parent should know to ensure their child's educational needs are being met.

The first principle of the IDEA is the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), which entitles eligible children with disabilities to a free, appropriate public education that meets the standards of the state department of education. This education must be designed to meet the unique needs of each eligible student and provided according to a written Individualized Education Program (IEP) from preschool through high school.

The second principle is Appropriate Evaluation, which ensures that a student receives an evaluation before special education services to determine if they qualify as a "child with a disability" and to assess the student's educational needs. Parents must permit the evaluation, and the assessment must test all areas of suspected disability.

The third principle is the Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is a written statement developed by a team of educators, parents, the student (when appropriate), and other knowledgeable individuals. The IEP should include measurable goals that provide meaningful progress in the general education curriculum and functional performance. Parents and the student must be meaningfully involved in the development of the program.

The fourth principle is the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), which means that the child's disability-related needs must justify any placement outside the general education classroom, and schools should strive to provide appropriate student offerings in the general education classroom and integrated settings.

The fifth principle is Parent and Student Participation in Decision Making, which means that schools must ensure that parents have the opportunity to be active participants in each step of the special education process. Parents and students must be meaningfully involved in their child's education.

The sixth principle is Procedural Safeguards, which provides essential procedural safeguards to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected. Parents have several rights when it comes to their child's education, including written notice of any changes or proposed alterations in their child's instructional programming or placement and the right to access and review their child's educational records.

Understanding these principles is essential for parents to ensure their child is receiving the education services they need and deserve. It is vital to ask the right questions to ensure that the child's IEP team has set meaningful and challenging goals for the child, taking into account any input from the parent. It is also essential to inquire if their child is learning in a setting that provides them with as few restrictions as possible.

At Nancy's Place, we understand the importance of education and support for families of children with intellectual and mental disabilities. We are dedicated to providing resources and guidance to ensure that parents and their children receive the best possible education services.


By Hunter Cook

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