Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs. IDEA requires public school systems to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP's) for each child. The specific special education and related services outlined in each IEP reflect the individualized needs of each student. IDEA also mandates that particular procedures be followed in the development of the IEP. Each student's IEP must be developed by a team of knowledgeable persons and must be at least reviewed annually. The team includes the child's teacher; the parents, subject to certain limited exceptions; the child, if determined appropriate; an agency representative who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education; and other individuals at the parents' or agency's discretion. If parents disagree with the proposed IEP, they can request a due process hearing and a review from the State educational agency if applicable in that state. They also can appeal the State agency's decision to State or Federal court.

For more information, contact:

Office of Special Education Programs
U.S. Department of Education

330 C Street, S.W. (Room 3086)
Washington, D.C. 20202
(202) 205-5507 (voice/TTY)


A User's Guide to IDEA 2004 by Robert Silverstein identifies additions, deletions, and important modifications to IDEA 2004 and includes legislative history.

The Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
An indepth review of articles on IEPs by LDOnLine.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004: Overview, Explanation and Comparison of IDEA 2004 & IDEA 97 by Peter W. D. Wright, Esq. describes the substantive changes to the five key statutes of IDEA 2004 by section and subsection. Text added to IDEA 2004 is in italics. Text deleted from IDEA 97 has been struck through. (PDF format)

Questions & Answers About IDEA, Students with Disabilities and State and District-wide Assessments
provides guidance about the provisions of IDEA '97 related to students with disabilities and State and district-wide assessments.

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