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Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) « Education – Special


Information, Publications and Court Cases
re: Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


Basic Information:

  • The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law on Dec. 3, 2004, by President George W. Bush. The provisions of the act became effective on July 1, 2005, with the exception of some of the elements pertaining to the definition of a “highly qualified teacher” that took effect upon the signing of the act. The final regulations were published on Aug. 14, 2006.
  • Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 (U.S. Department of Education)
    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.
  • Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.

Court Cases Related to IDEA:

  • 3rd Circuit rules that IDEA statute of limitations applies to claims that accrued prior to enactment (Developments in Special Education Law – 10/31/10)

  • Fifth Circuit unpublished opinion – (Disability Law Blog) (8/17/12)
    United States Circuit Judge Catharina Haynes has a terrific, must-read partial concurrence/partial dissent in an unpublished opinion her court issued last week in S.H. v. Plano Independent School District.  The case is an IDEA case that presented a very technical issue.  Basically, the parents succeeded in administrative proceedings in obtaining reimbursement for a private school placement.  But the school district had made a settlement offer before the administrative hearing.

  • Second Circuit Rejects Parental Challenge to New York’s Ban on Aversive Interventions for Children with Severe Behavioral Problems – (ABA – 8/20/12)
    In 2006, the New York State Board of Regents promulgated a regulation prohibiting schools from using aversive interventions on their students. Aversive interventions are negative consequences, such as manual restraints or electric shocks, that are administered to students who engage in severely disruptive behavior that impedes their education. The plaintiffs contended that this ban violated the IDEA (by preventing their children from receiving truly individualized educational programs), as well as their children’s constitutional rights to substantive and procedural due process and equal protection.  The district court dismissed their case, and the plaintiffs appealed.

  • Steven I v. Central Bucks School District (
    The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals held that the 2 year IDEA statute of limitations applies to compensatory education claims that are brought after the statute's effective date but that arise from conduct that occurred before the statute's passage. The Court reasoned that the time period between IDEA 2004's enactment and the effective date of its statute of limitations (7 months) gave the parent ample time to become aware of the change in the law and a reasonable opportunity to file a claim based on conduct dating back much further than permitted under the 2 year statute of limitations.

Articles and Publications about IDEA:

  • 504 Fact Sheet
    Obligations of School Districts under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with Updates on the ADA Amendments Act (Ronald Hager – Nat'l Disability Rights Network – July 2011)
    Section 504 was included in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  The major thrust of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was to provide federal funding and a mandate for vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities.  Section 504 is a very broad statute.  It prohibits discrimination in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.  It also applies to any programs run by the U.S. government. 
  • Cochlear Implant Mapping and the IDEA (Stoloff Law blog – 5/1/12)
    As an attorney with a hearing impairment, I read Petit v. United States Department of Education with great interest. Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that the Department of Education’s 2006 regulations, which excluded cochlear implant mapping from the scope of “related services,” was valid and consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“IDEA”) as amended in 2004.
  • Confused by IEP, IDEA, and 504 (Family Education)
    IDEA and Section 504 have a similar purpose — to protect disabled persons from discrimination — but they differ in many respects. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the new version of an earlier law, The Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-142). This law requires state education agencies to provide appropriate services for disabled children from birth to 21 years of age.
  • In order to be eligible for special education under IDEA, the child has to meet the criteria for eligibility in one of the eligibility categories in the law. These include: serious emotional disturbance, learning disabilities, retardation, traumatic brain injury, autism, vision and hearing impairments, physical disabilities, and other health impairments. If the child meets the criteria of one or more of these categories, requires special education or related services, and his or her disability adversely affects educational performance, the child may be eligible to receive services.
  • How IDEA Applies to Children with ADHD (Health Central)
    Having ADHD does not automatically qualify a child for special services under IDEA.  According to the guidelines, students must have one of the qualifying disabilities.  Although ADHD is not listed as a “qualifying” disability, it is listed as a condition under the “Other Health Impaired” category.
  • How IDEA Fails Families Without Means: Causes and Corrections From the Frontlines of Special Education (Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law)
    As a quintessential civil rights issue, the struggle for equal educational opportunity for students with disabilities whose families have few resources is waged daily from the parapets of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a complex entitlement statute.
  • IDEA – What You Need To Know (
    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the law that provisions service and support to children with disabilities throughout the US. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to U.S. children.
  • IDEA 2004 Close Up: The Individualized Education Program (IEP) (Great Schools)
    The 2004 update of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) made several significant changes to the Individualized Education Program (IEP), both in terms of who should participate and what should be included in this important process. Since it is the IEP that lays out the school's commitment of special education and related services to be provided to eligible students, it is essential that parents of students with learning disabilities (LD) understand the changes.
  • IDEA Regulations (U.S. Department of Education – 12/1/08)
    Regarding special education services under IDEA.
  • IDEA's Definition of 'Traumatic Brain Injury' (
    A teacher's guide to traumatic brain injury in the classroom.  Our nation's special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines traumatic brain injury as "an an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psycho-social behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.” [34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.7(c)(12)]
  • Introducing the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act
    On March 17, 2011, federal legislation was introduced to allow parents to recover expert witness fees in due process hearings and litigation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Click link above for the statement of Senator Harkin, who introduced it, along with the Text of IDEA Fairness Restoration Bill Act.
  • Free Appropriate Public Education in Special Education Programs (FAPE) (
    Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools are required to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education to children with learning disabilities and other educational disabilities in public schools.
  • Independent Educational Evaluations at District Expense Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (Perry Zirkel)
    The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) legislation left unchanged the brief provision according parents the right to obtain an “independent educational evaluation” (IEE) as one of their notable procedural safeguards without further specifications such as a definition or standards. The 2006 IDEA regulations repeated the various specifications of the 1999 version with only one change — limiting parents to only one IEE at public expense each time the school district conducts an evaluation with which a parent disagreed.
    Patti's Comment: Great article and resource!
  • School Law (Steve Friedman)
    Parents have independent rights under IDEA.
  • Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) Identification: An Analysis of State Policies (The Advocacy Institute)
    The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA; 2004) has resulted in many changes in the field of special education; specifically in the eligibility criteria used to determine the presence of a specific learning disability. Results indicate variability among the states regarding eligibility with all states using response to intervention and the majority of states allowing the use of various discrepancy models.
  • Teacher Choice – Does IDEA Allow Parents to Choose a Teacher? (
    If there is one thing special education parents have in common with regular education parents, it is the desire to get the best teacher possible for their children. When possible, it can be helpful to speak with your child's principal or guidance counselor about the problem. In some cases teacher placement issues can be resolved informally at that level or perhaps speaking with a board office administrator.
  • The IDEA Classification Debate: ED or OHI?
    What is the most appropriate classification of students with bipolar disorder under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?
  • The Provision of Accessible Instructional Materials to Students with Disabilities under IDEA, Section 504, and Title II of the ADA: An Overview for Families and Educators 
    (National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials)
    A comprehensive review of the content is conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The Public School's Special Education System as an Assistive Technology Funding Source: The Cutting Edge (Neighborhood Legal Services)
    The public school's special education system is a source of a wide range of educational services, special supports, and even AT that may be needed by children with disabilities to benefit from the public school's educational system. These rights to educational services and supports are grounded in two federal statutes, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, that have each been in place for more than 20 years. Both the IDEA and section 504's educational mandates have been implemented by a comprehensive set of federal regulations and through a number of policy interpretations issued through the U.S. Department of Education.
  • To Accommodate, or Not to Accommodate ( – 11/6/10)
    If your child has a learning disability and is served under IDEA or Section 504, you have probably considered whether your child should receive testing accommodations.
  • Understanding the Differences Between IDEA and Section 504 (LD Online)
    Since 1975, every child with a disability has been entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) designed to meet his individual needs under the rules and regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This federal law governs all special education services and provides some funding to state and local education agencies to guarantee special education and related services for those students who meet the criteria for eligibility in a number of distinct categories of disability, each of which has its own criteria.
  • What is the IDEA? (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) –
    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was established by the government to ensure that children with disabilities have instruction that meets their unique needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the federal law that requires public schools to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education to children with disabilities.
  • Who Gets the IDEA Parent Rights in the Event of a Divorce? (
    With as many as 50% of marriages ending in divorce, IDEA parent rights and divorce is a timely and important topic.  Who has decision-making rights in the event of a divorce is naturally a concern to both parents.  These frequently asked questions can help you understand IDEA parent rights and divorce.