Every Child Deserves A Meaningful Education

What does FAPE mean for children with disabilities?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Special Education Law |

Education is an important part of a child’s life, especially when it comes to children who have special needs. The right program or school can provide them with the tools they need to thrive. California parents of children with disabilities may have concerns about the programs available at public schools and may worry that only private schools will be able to meet their child’s needs. If your child has unique educational needs, he or she can still go to public school due to FAPE, a federal law that provides an opportunity for all children to have a free appropriate public education.

What is FAPE?

Under FAPE, each child has the right to a free public education that meets their needs based on their abilities. If you’re concerned about your child’s needs while attending public school, you can work closely with teachers and school administrators to ensure they address your concerns. An IEP can help you understand how the school will implement programs and services that will help your child learn.

The school must provide additional services that are relevant to their educational needs. This may include speech therapy, specialized reading programs, counseling or transportation to and from school. It’s important to note that, as a parent, you are not financially responsible for these additional services. Your child will receive these services for free.

What’s not covered?

FAPE is very specific when it comes to the wording of what a school must provide. The school must provide services reasonably calculated to help your child make progress, but not necessarily to maximize your child’s potential. FAPE also doesn’t ensure that your child has a place in a particular sport or club. Children will learn in a classroom with their peers unless it’s more beneficial for them to learn separately due to their needs.

While parents can and should be involved in their child’s education, the school does not have to provide a program or service that a parent requests. When creating your child’s IEP, be sure to ask questions and voice your concerns so that you understand the services offered to your child. If your child needs additional accommodation while at school, request those accommodations in writing in your child’s IEP.

Seek legal advice if you have a concern

Parents of children with disabilities may worry that the school is not following the IEP or is compromising their child’s education opportunities in some other way. If you have concerns about your child’s education, you have the right to have those concerns addressed. By working with someone who is knowledgeable in California’s education laws, you can resolve those issues so your child can reach their educational goals.