ALL LEGAL OR LAW RELATED INFORMATION ON THIS SITE IS OFFERED FOR INFORMATIONAL / EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. VISITORS SHOULD NOT RELY ON ANYTHING THEY SEE HERE AS LEGAL ADVICE. Persons who are wondering if they have a claim should consult a special education attorney in their area.
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed by Congress in 1973 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. In 1990, the statute was amended and the title was changed to IDEA. It was again amended in 1997 and is commonly referred to as IDEA97.
IDEA guarantees to every disabled child the right to a "free and appropriate public education." The Act secures this guarantee by making federal funding for special education contingent upon compliance with IDEA. The school district is required to formulate an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the disabled student. This is written at a meeting between the parents and school officials, and is viewed as a contract by the courts. The IEP is required to be done annually for each disabled student.
However, what is considered an appropriate education is often hotly contested, and the Act provides a mechanism for this situation as well. If the parents do not feel the IEP is appropriate, they do not need to sign it. Most importantly, the parents can request a due process hearing before an impartial hearing officer to challenge the school's placement of the child. IDEA has a so-called "stay-put" provision that prohibits the school from changing the child's educational placement until the hearing officer makes their decision. If the parents are dissatisfied with the decision of the hearing officer, they can then bring the matter to court.
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