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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

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IDEA is the federal law which provides the foundation for SPED in public schools. The Purpose of the Law is to “ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living;” §300.1  

Each student suspected of having a disability must be identified and evaluated to determine whether they have a disability and if they need from special education services. A diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy in itself does not guarantee student eligibility for special education. The law mandates that an evaluation must include a variety of assessment tools that will accurately demonstrate the child's specific areas of educational need based on present level of academic achievement and functional performance. 

Once a child’s evaluations are completed, the school will schedule a “multidisciplinary” team meeting with the parents, teachers and others familiar with the child to review the assessments and determine whether the child is eligible for Special Education. The evaluation process should also consider other factors, such as parent input, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, behavior and any independent evaluations. Should a child be considered eligible, the group conducts an Individualized Education Program meeting to determine appropriate services, supports accommodations and modifications needed based on the evaluations and goals. 

Helpful Links

  • The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
    The Federal Department of Education’s in depth site concerning special education law.
  • Wrights Law
    Wrightslaw website provides extensive resources to learn about and navigate special education
  • Parent Center for Information and Resources The Parent Center for Information and Resources has a large database of articles on many special education topics parents may find useful.   Additionally, the site is the new home for the former NICHCY website's materials.   Under the Resources Section of the Parent Center for Information's main page is a list of articles on many topics related to special education as well as links to additional related topics
  • LD Online Understanding IDEA and 504
    An overview of these two laws that help students with disabilities including information about identifying students and eligibility requirements.

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