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Focus on IDEA and the individualized education program it mandates

Acronyms often convey important legal concepts and processes in shorthand form.

This is certainly true in the realm of special education in California and nationally, where two acronyms in particular stand out prominently and merit discussion.

And so we focus on IDEA and IEP today, two sets of letters that are of utmost importance for every family of every disabled child in the country having specialized educational needs.

IDEA -- the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- is the seminal federal law that serves as a bedrock for the legal processes and protections relating to special education in the United States.

And IEP -- the individualized education program that finds its origins in IDEA -- is the critically important blueprint that serves to spell out the negotiated details of an education program for a disabled student in a given case.

What starts an IEP rolling is a referral for an assessment to determine whether a student needs a tailored educational plan and related services. If it is determined that he or she does, IDEA mandates that a school district and parents work together to develop IEP.

The importance of parental participation in determining a child's current performance, goals, instructional placement and related factors cannot be overstated. As noted in an online overview of IEP processes and contours, "the parent is an equal partner with the school district" when it comes to fashioning and appropriately revising an IEP.

The role that a proven special education attorney can play concerning an IEP as the legal advocate for a child and parents can be vitally important in helping to ensure that the child is referred and properly assessed and that an IEP is fully responsive to what he or she needs.

Parents with questions or concerns regarding any aspect of IDEA, an IEP or any other special education-related matter can receive prompt answers and candid guidance from an attorney who practices solely on behalf of special education students and their families.

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