An IDEA for the Future

Jessica Hayashi and Kimberlee Pelster

What rights do disabled children have when it comes to education? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a civil rights statute that provides disabled students a substantive right to a free and appropriate public education. It requires that the school meet a given student’s special needs in the least restrictive environment possible by working together with parents, at no charge, to develop and implement an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for that student. The IEP must be reviewed annually and modified if necessary. The purpose is to grant children with disabilities the opportunity to learn and engage in the classroom alongside other children to the maximum extent possible.

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