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Understanding Your Basic IEP Rights

Prior to every IEP meeting, the school district will provide you with their standard Notice of Procedural Safeguards. These booklets are usually prepared by lawyers and can be very long. Review them carefully and make sure that you ask questions if you do not fully understand every provision.

The following Basic Rights are generally from the 2008 DREDF Special Education Guide for Parents. To download the entire manual and obtain any updates, please visit: www.dredf.org.

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

  • Provided at no cost to parents.
  • Meets the individual unique needs of the student in the least restrictive environment (LRE) so that special needs children will be integrated as much as possible with general education kids.


Appropriate Evaluation

  • Uses knowledgeable and trained evaluators–they also should be culturally sensitive.
  • Employs a variety of tests and procedures to get information about the student.
  • Uses tests that don’t discriminate.
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • An IEP is the customized education program for a particular child.
  • The IEP team includes parents and relevant school personnel, and the team develops an IEP that includes:
  • Description of current level of functioning.
  • Yearly objectives.

Parent and Student Participation in Decision-Making

  • Parents and students have the right to meaningful participation in the IEP process.
  • Parents and students have the right to have all the materials presented at an IEP meeting explained to them in a way that they can understand.
  • Parents and students have the right to have the information presented at the IEP meeting translated into their primary language.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

  • IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Act) wants students with disabilities to be with their non-disabled peers, in general education classrooms, whenever possible.
  • Decisions about the most suitable environment for each student are made by the entire IEP team.
  • Self-contained classrooms, separate schools, and/or homebound or hospital services continue to be available when the nature or severity of a student’s disability is such that a less restrictive placement cannot be achieved satisfactorily, even with the assistance of special education, related services, modifications, and accommodations.

Procedural Due Process

  • School districts must obtain parental consent before testing a student for special education, or before exiting a student from special education.
  • School districts must provide written notice to parents before initiating, changing, or refusing to change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student.
  • School districts must provide parents, upon request by parents, with information about independent educational evaluations, including where they can be obtained. School districts must consider any independent educational evaluation presented by a parent at an IEP meeting.
    Parental consent is required before an IEP can be implemented.
  • Parents have the right to file Compliance Complaints when school districts do not provide services and supports as agreed to in an IEP, or otherwise violate IDEA.
  • Parents have a right to a formal legal process, the Due Process Hearing, to resolve disputes about IEP eligibility, supports, and services or placement.