The right to FAPE arose from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). FAPE is an acronym for free appropriate public education, and it requires the public school system to educate students with disabilities and respond to their needs.
What Does a Free and Appropriate Public Education Mean?
FAPE provides educational entitlements to all students. As per the Rehabilitation Act, a student with learning or thinking differences cannot be excluded from or be denied benefits from any federally financed activity or program because of his or her learning differences.
FAPE ensures that students in special education programs receive an education appropriate for their needs.
Learn more about ChanceLight’s approach to teaching children with learning and emotional needs.
With the passing of these laws, the United States government began requiring every school district in the country to provide access to free special education resources for all students with a learning disability.
The major goal of free and appropriate public education is to try to ensure that every American student is given the opportunity to obtain a suitable education, regardless of financial or cognitive circumstances, one that allows them to make progress in terms of realizing their potential.
What is Required and Not Required Under FAPE?
- Schools must provide accommodations and modifications that help or allow students to participate in the general education curriculum to the greatest extent possible.
- Schools must create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for children with disabilities—a written plan for each student’s special education experience at school, one that addresses everything from services and progress monitoring to annual goals.
- Students in special education programs must have an equal opportunity to participate in the clubs, sports and activities offered by their school.
- Families of special needs students and students with learning differences are not responsible for paying general education costs or for related services. That includes learning materials and student fees. Public school districts cover the cost of special education services, including teachers and supporting personnel.
Although FAPE provides that American students receive access to a baseline education, there are differences between school districts in terms of how far above and beyond they exceed the baseline.
In addition, local-level courts are sometimes called upon to oversee cases against educational institutions that are seen as failing to provide what is deemed a free and appropriate level of education.
In part that’s because the quality of education provided by a school district can be subjective. Also, some school districts do a better and more attentive job than others in terms of meeting the needs of students.
It’s vital for parents to be aware of this, and to be prepared to advocate on their child’s behalf to ensure that they receive the education to which they are entitled. Parents who disagree with their child’s school about what FAPE requires can negotiate and/or work with the school to find solutions.
Parents Need to Be Active in Their Child’s Education
FAPE guarantees that learning disabled students receive a free and appropriate education. However, it cannot prescribe exactly what resources and education will be provided. This is where parent advocacy is crucial.
Parents need to be their child’s biggest advocate. By remaining actively involved in their child’s education, parents can not only help ensure their child is receiving a purposeful education, but also ensure that the school’s administration is held accountable. This accountability ensures transparency for all parties, both in terms of how districts are acting financially and educationally on behalf of students.
ChanceLight Education Can Help
At ChanceLight Education we have more than 45 years of experience working in partnership with school systems, and all of our programs are FAPE compliant. With decades of experience adapting to the ever-evolving needs of individual student populations, we are uniquely well-suited to design and implement programs that meet the needs of students with disabilities.
Contact us to learn more or to discuss how we can help address the needs of your unique student population. We remain dedicated to upholding FAPE rights, while also meeting or exceeding the requirements of all of the students we serve.