The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, is legislation that is designed to ensure that children with disabilities are afforded their right to receive public education. IDEA was first passed in 1975 to protect the rights of children with disabilities. Special education and other services are provided to these individuals as part of IDEA. It is separate from section 504, which is a civil rights law protecting disabled children from discrimination. According the IDEA, school districts must provide FAPE (Free and Appropriate Education) to every qualified disabled student within its jurisdiction.

Services Under IDEA

Special education is the specialized instruction and related aids and services provided to disabled children as part of the IDEA. There are many types of special education services that may be provided, based on the individual needs of each child. Children must first be evaluated to determine whether the child qualifies for special education and if so, which services are appropriate for the student to access their education.  Some of the services include such things as speech pathology, audiology, psychological, physical therapy and occupational therapy.  Additionally, early identification and assessment is required and is a free service to children in the community.

Least Restrictive Environment

As part of IDEA, disabled children must be educated in the least restrictive environment, LRE. This means that children must be allowed to take part in education or instruction along with children who do not have disabilities, to the extent they are able to do so. Each child requires an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that dictates the special education and related supplementary aids and services that particular student requires to access their education.

School district administrators must ensure that they provide services that are required as part of IDEA. Any questions or concerns should be addressed with a qualified education law attorney before policies are put in place.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or other Education Law matters, please feel free to contact Erin H. Walz at 480.461.5379, log on to or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.