The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (hereinafter “IDEA”) is the federal statute that governs special education. The IDEA is an educational entitlement statute. If your child is found eligible under the IDEA, the public school district is responsible for providing him/her with an individualized education program and related services at their expense. The IDEA has two primary purposes. The first purpose is to ensure that all students with disabilities are provided a free and appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services and is designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. The second purpose is to protect the rights of both children with disabilities and their parents.
It is important to understand that a child with a disability is not automatically eligible for special education and related services under the IDEA. In order to be found eligible under the IDEA, a child must have a disability that (1) adversely affects educational performance and (2) requires specifically designed instruction to meet his/her unique needs.