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What rights does the IDEA give parents?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, guarantees each child a free and appropriate public education that prepares them for employment, further education and independent living. This is guaranteed for children with disabilities between the ages of three and 21. It includes the right to an individualized education plan (IEP).

If your child qualifies as a person with a disability, he or she should be assigned an IEP that specifies what services are to be provided and how often. It should describe how your child is doing presently and how their disability or disabilities affect their academic performance. It should specify any modifications and accommodations to be provided. Once the IEP is in place, every member of the faculty must follow the plan.

Unfortunately, problems can and do arise. IEPs are not always set up completely and correctly. Parents sometimes disagree with the level of accommodation being proposed, or with the specific accommodations proposed. Many parents fear that their voices won't be heard.

What specific rights do parents enjoy under the IDEA?

The law calls for parents to be integral to their children's education. As a parent of a child with disabilities, you have:

  • The right to a part in all aspects of your child's individualized education plan
  • The right to be equal members of the IEP team with educational faculty
  • The right to be informed in writing of procedural safeguards
  • The right to review all educational records
  • The right to suggest an alternative IEP and to call witnesses (including experts) to support your case
  • The right to request mediation or a due process hearing
  • The right to have any complaints heard by the state education agency

You know your child best. You have a right to participate fully in setting up your child's IEP, to propose alternate arrangements, to review how the plan is going and how well your child is performing, to object to problems involving the plan and to have those objections heard by the appropriate authorities.

If you have a problem with your child's IEP or any aspect of their education, you can discuss your concerns with an attorney experienced in education law and learn your legal options.

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