The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, otherwise known as IDEA, guarantees the rights of students with disabilities and their family members. States and other public agencies offer children with disabilities various services, such as early intervention and special education, in accordance with this law.

IDEA ensures that students receive a Free Appropriate Public Education. A student’s FAPE includes an individualized education plan that is unique to each child and his or her specific needs. IDEA also gives parents of students with disabilities the right to participate in their child’s education program.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is an individualized education plan. If a child qualifies for special education services, then he or she also qualifies for an IEP. This document provides information about the student’s current academic performance, the required accommodations and modifications, and the nature and frequency of the services that the student will receive. After writing the initial plan, the IEP team must meet regularly in order to reevaluate the document in light of the changing needs of the student.

Who are the IEP team members?

The IEP team must consist of education professionals such as a special education teacher, one or more of the child’s regular classroom teachers, a representative of the local school with knowledge of the curriculum and the school’s resources, and an administrator with knowledge of the district’s available services. It must also include a person, such as a psychologist, who can interpret the child’s evaluation; other individuals, such as personnel who can provide related services, with expertise regarding the child’s disability; when appropriate, the student with the disability; and the parents of the student.

When is parental consent necessary?

When a child undergoes an initial evaluation for special education and other IEP-related services, parents must give the school their written permission to allow tests and evaluations. Following this evaluation, parents must again provide written permission for the child to receive the services for which he or she has qualified. In addition, schools must also obtain parental consent in order to release information from the child’s education record or to share information with other agencies assisting in meeting the goals of the IEP.