Legal Aspects of Special Education
Mary Noe, Division of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, College of Professional Studies
The purpose of the IDEA (20 U.S.C. Sec 1400-1487) is to ensure that students with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) (20 U.S.C. 1400[d][A]. These disabilities can range from learning disabilities to autism to psychiatric and physical problems. A FAPE includes special education and related services designed to meet the student’s unique needs, provided in conformity with a comprehensive written Individual Education Plan (IEP) (20 U.S.C. 1401[D]. IDEA is a federal law administrated by the states in conformity therewith. The states must adhere to the general requirements of the statute in order to receive federal funding for its implementation. If the parent or guardian of a disabled child believes that the IEP proposed by a school district is inadequate, inappropriate or unavailable, there are administrative and quasi judicial remedies available for relief. New York State regulation, 8 NYCRR 200.5 (c), provides that a parent may request that an impartial hearing be held under certain circumstances. The relevant Federal regulation, 34 CFR 300.506 (a), provides that either a parent or a “public education agency” may initiate a hearing with regard to the initiation or change in the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education for the child.