FAPE - Free Appropriate Public Education
When a child has a handicap or any type of disability, the public school system is required by law to give that child a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
It also includes transportation to and from school regardless of adaptive needs and providing the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for the child to learn in. A least restrictive environment means that the child with special needs be grouped in a classroom with peers where they will achieve the highest academic and social progress.
For a special needs child to be provided services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act and receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), the child must be assessed by a state assessor for the public school system. Once a disability is identified, that child has a right for Free Appropriate Public Education and services must be provided by the state.
A special needs child identified as having a disability by the state will receive an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). This plan is put together by a team of educators from the child's school such as a school psychologist, teachers, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists as well as the parent. The IEP will outline the services which must be provided to the child while they are in school. It would be a violation of the child's rights and also against the law if the school refused to provide services outlined in an IEP.
Once a child has an IEP in place, the parent has the right to request modifications or changes to that child's IEP if they choose. It is not uncommon for a teacher to request to add a service they feel the child will need or take one away as the child outgrows the need for that service. Services can be added or taken away from the IEP, as long as the parent is notified and agrees, and as long as it is within the procedural requirements of IDEA and FAPE.
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