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Unraveling Special Education Terminology

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What is IDEA?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law establishing the policies and procedures that provide special education rights to students with disabilities

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What are FAPE & LRE?

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is federal law outlining every student's right to a free, public education appropriate for their learning needs. It is one of the fundamental tenets of special education law. Students with disabilities have a right to be educated in a setting that supports their learning needs, free of charge to parents.


Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is federal law that requires public school districts to provide educational opportunities to students with disabilities in a setting that allows for the most exposure to the general education curriculum and typically developing peers.

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What is an IEP?

Once a student has been found eligible under one of the 13 disability categories outlined in IDEA, an Individualized Education

Plan (IEP) is offered that outlines what specialized educational programming the child needs in order to make progress toward general education curriculum standards.


IEPs include annual goals and services that are required for the student to make adequate educational progress. IEPs are reviewed every year with an IEP team that includes parents, general education teacher, special education staff, and administrators.

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What is a Section 504 plan?

A Section 504 plan refers to the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act . In the school setting, a 504 plan is provided to students who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (e.g., epilepsy, anxiety, ADHD, diabetes, etc.), which requires modifications or accommodations in the classroom in order for the student to access curriculum.


Common 504 plan accommodations include extra time for assignments/tests, modified homework, access to breaks or nurse's office as needed, and preferential seating.    


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What is an IEE?

An Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) is provided to parents when they disagree with the findings of school-based psychoeducational assessment results. IEEs are provided at no additional cost to the parent. 

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