Special Education Law


Special Education Law

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that governs how public schools must serve children with disabilities from birth until age 22.  IDEA requires that schools provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). IDEA also allows states the option to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities aged birth to 3. Find out more about IDEA.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 is a civil rights law. It’s purpose is to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination based on their disabilities. Section 504 guarantees the right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.  Find out more about Section 504.

Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

Compare IDEA and Section 504

American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is a 1990 civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It gives similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability. This is defined as a person who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered. 
Find out more about the ADA

Listen to archived episodes of “ADA Live Radio Show”:

Episode 23: Back to School – What Parents Need to Know Before the School Year Begins (originally aired live August 5, 2015)  Topics include establishing a good relationship with your child’s teachers and staff; helping a child who is anxious about returning to school; who decides when an IEP should be scheduled; how to prepare for an IEP or 504 meeting; follow-up after and IEP or 504 meeting; and what students transitioning to college or vocational training need to know. Download a transcript of the episode here.

Episode 24: The School Year Has Started – And It’s Not Going Well. What  Can I Do? (originally aired live September 2, 2015) Topics include writing emails and letters to express concerns; how to request a meeting; effective communication techniques to express concerns, strengthen relationships with teachers, and get the support your child needs to be successful at school.  Download a transcript of the episode here.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA is the Federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s educational records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds from the US Department of Education. Parents have rights to review records and request corrections. These rights pass on to the student on his/her 18th birthday. Find out more about FERPA.

USDOE FERPA Guidelines

USDOE Privacy Technical Assistance Center – Protecting Student Privacy – Student Privacy 101

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law December 10, 2015. The previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, was enacted in 2002. ESSA was a re-authorization of the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. Find out more about ESSA

ESSA in Georgia