The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees the right to a free and appropriate public education to all students with disabilities who qualify for special education services.

What is a free and appropriate public education?

Free—”without charge” to parents or children;

Appropriate—”in keeping with an individualized education program”

Public—”at public expense, under public supervision and direction”

Education—”preschool, elementary.. .or secondary school…”

Be sure to read this NICHY Legacy information on “appropriate”.

How is FAPE defined?

IDEA defines FAPE  as follows:

§300.17 Free appropriate public education

Free appropriate public education or FAPE means special education and related services that—

(a) Are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;

(b) Meet the standards of the SEA, including the requirements of this part;

(c) Include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and

(d) Are provided in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP) that meets the requirements of §§300.320 through 300.324.

FAPE During COVID-19

Under Section 504, if a parent or guardian believes that their child has not received or is not receiving FAPE, does not have equal access to other services provided by the school, or did not receive or is not receiving appropriate compensatory services, they may seek a hearing under the school’s Section 504 due process procedures or file a complaint with OCR. A school’s agreement to provide compensatory services is one way OCR remedies disability compliance issues when appropriate.

More information:

Remember the purpose of special education…

The purpose of special education is to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a “free and 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”. Special education services are provided at no cost to the parents and must be provided in the “least restrictive environment”.

Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. This means education that is individually developed to address a specific child’s needs that result from his or her disability. Each child is unique,so special education is individualized for each child.

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