There are several terms that parents must become familiar with when their child is going to receive special education services. It is critical to have a thorough understanding of these terms, so parents can ensure they protect their child’s rights, as well as their own.
One of these terms that parents must know is FAPE.
What is FAPE?
A child with a disability or learning difference has the right to obtain a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Students maintain this right under both:
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
However, many California parents might wonder: what does an appropriate education entail?
What does the law deem an appropriate education?
According to federal law, FAPE means that:
- Education must meet the unique needs of the child, requiring the creation of an individualized education program (IEP)
- Districts and schools must provide children with reasonable accommodations and additional services if they would benefit the child’s learning
- Schools must also provide the least restrictive environment for children to learn in
Of course, FAPE also means this education will not cost parents anything.
Why is it important for parents to understand FAPE?
FAPE is an important right students have. And although federal guidelines do inform what an appropriate education includes, actually determining what is “appropriate” can be the center of most disagreements in special education matters, such as the IEP. Schools and staff might have a very different interpretation of what constitutes an appropriate education than parents, which can directly affect the services and education that children receive.
That is why parents must take time to fully understand all that FAPE encompasses, so they can protect their child’s best interests and education. The more parents understand about FAPE and the other critical elements of special education, the better they can advocate for their children.