When Congress enacted Public Law 94-142 as the Education for All Handicapped Children's Act in 1975, they included a system of procedural safeguards designed to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents. During subsequent reauthorizations of the law, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Congress maintained and added to these safeguards.
Procedural safeguards include the right to participate in all meetings, to examine all educational records, and to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of the child. Parents have the right to written notice when the school proposes to change or refuses to change the identification, evaluation or placement of a child.
The law includes several ways to resolve disputes including mediation, a "Resolution Session" and due process hearings. Procedural safeguards include legally binding written mediation agreements and confidentiality.
Tip: Contact your state department of education or visit their web site and request all information about your parental rights and responsibilities. Ask them to advise you when new publications are available.
When Congress re-authorized the IDEA in 1997, they added new requirements about parent notice and reimbursement for private placements. If parents decide to place their child unilaterally in a private school and want the school to reimburse them for the private placement, they must take specific steps to protect their rights.
The parents must advise the IEP team that they are rejecting the proposed IEP and state their concerns and their intent to enroll their child in a private school at public expense.
10 BUSINESS DAYS before removing the child from the public school, the parent must give the school WRITTEN NOTICE of their intent to enroll the child in a private school at public expense.
If parents do not take these steps, they may lose their right to reimbursement for an appropriate private placement even if the public school placement was inappropriate.