Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is both a grants statute and
a civil rights statute. As a grants statute, IDEA provides federal funding
for the education of children with disabilities and requires, as a
condition for the receipt of such funds, the provision of a free appropriate
public education (FAPE) (i.e., specially designed instruction provided at no
cost to parents that meets the needs of a child with a disability). In
FY2012, $12.6 billion was appropriated for IDEA. In the fall of 2009, 5.9
million children ages six through 21 received educational services under
As a civil rights statute, IDEA contains procedural safeguards, which are
provisions intended to protect the rights of parents and children with
disabilities regarding the provision of FAPE. These procedures include
parental rights to resolve disputes through a mediation process, and present and
resolve complaints through a due process complaint procedure, and through state
complaint procedures. IDEA’s procedural safeguards also address
disciplinary issues. In general, a child with a disability is not immune from
discipline, but the procedures are not the same as for nondisabled children.
To be covered under IDEA, a child with a disability must meet the categorical
definition of disability in the act, and the child must require special
education and related services as a result of the disability in order to
benefit from public education. Once a child meets IDEA’s eligibility criteria,
FAPE is implemented through the Individualized Education Program (IEP), which
is the plan for providing special education and related services by the
local educational agency (LEA). The IEP is developed by an IEP team
composed of school personnel and parents. IDEA requires that children with
disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment. That is, to the maximum
extent appropriate they are to be educated with children who are not disabled.
In 2008, over 50% of all children with disabilities served by IDEA spent
80% or more of their time in a regular classroom.
To implement IDEA, states and other entities (i.e., the District of Columbia,
Puerto Rico, the Bureau of Indian Education, the outlying areas, and the
freely associated states) receive grants based on a statutory formula.
Most of the federal funds received by states are passed on to LEAs based
on a statutory formula. IDEA also contains state and local maintenance of
effort (MOE) requirements and supplement, not supplant (SNS) requirements
aimed at increasing overall educational spending, rather than substituting
federal funds for education spending at the state and local levels.
Originally enacted in 1975, IDEA has been the subject of numerous
reauthorizations to extend services and rights to children with
disabilities. The most recent reauthorization of IDEA was P.L. 108-446
enacted in 2004. Funding for Part B, Assistance for Education of all Children
with Disabilities, the largest and most often discussed part of the act,
is permanently authorized. Funding for Part C, Infants and Toddlers with
Disabilities, and Part D, National Activities, was authorized through FY2011.
Funding for the programs continues to be authorized through annual appropriations.
Date of Report: January 7, 2013
Number of Pages: 35 Order Number: R41833 Price: $29.95
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