6.4 Federal Law IDEA and Special Education

Note: The information in this list and others in this section regarding educational laws and policies are meant as a general guide for parents and educators. Check and clarify with experts from your local and state education agencies.

IDEA is the federal special education law that protects the educational rights of students with disabilities and governs special education. This law has been in effect since 1975, but it has been amended by Congress numerous times over the years. IDEA was reauthorized in 2004 and became effective the following year.

The US Department of Education provides clarification to states and school districts about how to implement IDEA. Some clarifying regulations were issued in 2006 and others at the end of 2008.

Some of the information in this list and the others in this book section related to educational laws may change when new IDEA amendments and regulations take place. This list is meant as a brief overview for reference. It is recommended to obtain more information about the current law and regulations from your state and local school district and other sources (such as those listed in the “Sources and Resources” section of this list).

Basic Information about Special Education Law (IDEA 2004)

  • IDEA requires school districts to provide children with disabilities with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), which means provision of special education and related services necessary for the child to benefit ...

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