Appendix F: Key Provisions of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

From: Special Education Manual 1995Published by MICPEL (March 1995)



By: Leslie Seid Margolis



      1. Cite: 20 U.S.C. Sections 1400-1485 (also known as P.L.94-142).

      2. Regulations: 34 C.F.R. Part 300.

      3. Mandates that a free appropriate public education be available to all students with disabilities, ages three to twenty-one.

      4. Amended in 1986 to require services for infants and toddlers, ages birth to three.

      5. Establishes procedural protections to safeguard parent/guardian rights.

      6. Has its roots in two cases: Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 334 F. Supp. 1257 (E.D. Pa. 1971) and Mills v. District of Columbia Board of Education, 348 F. Supp. 866 (D.D.C. 1972)


      1. At time of enactment in 1975, Congress found:

        1. More than eight million children with disabilities in the United States;

        2. More than half of those children not receiving appropriate educational services;

        3. One million children excluded from school;

        4. Many children in regular education not successful because disabilities undetected.


      1. Definitions

        1. Children with disabilities -- children who have one or more of the following disabilities who, because of the impairment, need special education and related services:

          1. mental retardation

          2. deafness

          3. hearing impairment

          4. speech or language impairment

          5. visual impairment, including blindness

          6. serious emotional disturbance

          7. orthopedic impairment

          8. other health impairment

          9. deaf-blindness

          10. specific learning disability

          11. autism

          12. traumatic brain injury

          13. multiple disabilities

          20 U.S.C. s. 1401(a)(1); 34 C.F.R. s. 300.7. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.02(B)(12).

        2. Free appropriate public education -- special education and related services that:

          1. are provided at public expense at no charge to parents;

          2. meet standards of State educational agency;

          3. include an appropriate preschool, elementary, or secondary school education;

          4. are provided in conformity with an individualized education program.

          20 U.S.C. s. 1401 (a) (18); 34 C.F.R. s. 300.8. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.02(B)(2).

        3. Special education -- specially designed instruction, at no cost to parent/ guardian, to meet unique needs of child with a disability.

          1. Includes classroom instruction, home instruction, hospital/ institutional instruction, and physical education.

          20 U.S.C. s. 1401(a)(16) ; 34 C.F. R. s. 300.17. See also: MD. EDUC. CODE ANN. Section 8-401(a)(2); COMAR 13A.05.01.02(B)(9).

        4. Related services -- services required to assist child with disability to benefit from special education.

          1. Include, but are not limited to, early identification and assessment, transportation, speech pathology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic and social work services, counseling, medical diagnostic and evaluation services, school health services, social work services in schools, rehabilitation counseling, and parent counseling and training.

          20 U.S.C. s. 1401(a)(17) ; 34 C.F.R. s. 300.16. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.02(B)(8).

      2. Individualized education program (IEP) -- written statement for each student with a disability developed in a meeting by an education representative, teacher, parent/guardian, and student when appropriate. IEP must include:

        1. statement of present levels of educational performance;

        2. statement of annual goals and short-term objectives;

        3. statement of specific educational services to be provided and extent to which student will be able to participate in regular educational programs;

        4. projected date for initiation and anticipated duration of services;

        5. appropriate objective criteria and evaluation procedures and schedules for determining, on at least an annual basis, whether instructional objectives are being achieved;

        6. for students 16 and older, or, if appropriate, beginning at age 14 or younger, a statement describing needed transition services, which are coordinated activities for a student that are designed to promote movement from school to post-school activities and which must be based upon the student's needs and take into account the student's interests and preferences.

        20 U.S.C. s. 1401(a)(20); 34 C.F.R. s. 300.346. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.09.

      3. Procedural safeguards -- 20 U.S.C. s. 1415; 34 C.F.R. s. 300.500-300.515. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.13-.15.

        1. Parent/Guardian has right to examine educational records. 34 C.F.R. 300.502. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.13(C)(1)(a)(vii)

        2. Parent/Guardian has right to obtain independent educational evaluation. 34 C.F.R. s. 300.503. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.13(C)(1)(a)(v) and (vi).

        3. Parent surrogate to be assigned when parents or guardian unknown, unavailable, or child is ward of state. 20 U.S.C. s. 1415(b)(1)(B); 3 C.F.R. s. 300.514. See also: MD. EDUC. CODE ANN. Section 8-414; COMAR 13A.05.01.16.

        4. Written prior notice to parent/guardian when agency proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement, or the provision of a free appropriate public education. 34 C.F.R. s. 300.504. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.13(B).

        5. Notice must be in parent/guardian's native language unless clearly not feasible. 34 C.F.R. s. 505. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.13(C)(2)(b).

        6. Opportunity to present complaints. 20 U.S.C. s. 1415(b)(1)(E).

        7. Opportunity for impartial due process hearing. 34 C.F.R. s. 506. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.13(C)(1)(a)(I).

        8. Right to participate in meetings. 34 C.F.R. s. 300.506-300.510. See also: MD.EDUC. CODE. ANN. Section 8-415; COMAR 13A.05.01.14 and 14.

      4. Due process hearings 20 U.S.C. s. 1415; 34 C.F.R. s. 300.506-300.510. See also: MD.EDUC.CODE ANN. Section 8-415; COMAR 13A.05.01.14 and .15.

        1. Any party has the right to:

          1. be accompanied and advised by counsel and by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to children with disabilities;

          2. present evidence;

          3. confront, cross-examine, and compel attendance of witnesses;

          4. prohibit introduction of evidence not disclosed to party at least five days prior to hearing;

          5. written or electronic verbatim record of hearing;

          6. written findings of fact and decision.

        2. Hearing must be held and decision rendered within forty-five days. 34 C.F.R. s. 300.512

        3. Parent has right to have child present and to open hearing to public.

        4. Any party aggrieved by findings and decision may appeal to:

          1. state court; or

          2. United States district court.

        5. Exhaustion of administrative remedies necessary.

        6. "Stay put" provision -- During pendency of any proceedings, unless education agency and parent/guardian agree other-wise, student shall remain in current educational placement. 20 U.S.C. s. 1415(e)(3); 34 C.F.R. s. 300.513. See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.14(L).

          1. If initial school admission, child shall, with parent/guardian consent, be in public school program until proceedings complete.

          2. If the proceedings involve a student who has brought a weapon (defined as a firearm) to school, the student may be placed in an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 days. If parent/guardian requests due processes hearing, student shall remain in alternative educational setting during the pendency of any proceedings, unless the parent and educational agency agree otherwise.

        7. Attorney's fees -- available in any "action or proceeding" at the discretion of the court.

          1. Reasonable fees -- based on prevailing rates in community for kind/quality of services furnished.

          2. No bonus or multiplier allowed.

          3. Fees not available if written offer of settlement made, offer not accepted within ten days, and relief obtained through hearing is not more favorable than settlement offer. 20 U.S.C. s. 1415(e)(4). See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.14(G).

      5. Early intervention amendments

        1. 20 U.S.C. s. 1471-1485; 34 C.F.R. Part 303. See also: COMAR 01.04.01.

        2. Also known as P.L. 99-457 or Part H amendments.

        3. Covers children from birth to age three who are developmentally delayed, or who have a diagnosed condition which has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay. State option (Maryland did not choose) to cover children who are at risk of having developmental delay if early intervention services not provided.

        4. Multidisciplinary, interagency system with individualized family services plan (IFSP).

        5. Procedural safeguards.

      6. Least restrictive environment

        1. To maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled students.

        2. Special classes, separate schooling or other removal of students with disabilities from regular educational environment only when nature and severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

        3. Continuum of alternative placements required to be available to meet the needs of students with disabilities for special education and related services.

        4. Placement must be determined annually.

        5. Placement must be based on individualized education program.

        6. Placement must be as close as possible to student's home.

        7. Unless a student's individualized education program requires some other arrangement, the student must be educated in the school he or she would attend if not disabled.

        8. Consideration of any potential harmful effect on student or on quality of services s/he needs.

        9. Participation in nonacademic and extracurricular activities to maximum extent appropriate to needs of student.

        20 U.S.C s. 1412(5)(B) and 1414(a)(1)(C)(iv); 34 C.F.R. s. 300.550-300.556; See also: COMAR 13A.05.01.02(B)(3) and 13A.05.01.10(B).

      7. Binding policy rulings made by the United States Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). See Chapter 8, Section D for information about locating OSEP policy rulings.


    1. Cite: 29 U.S.C. 794

    2. Relevant regulations: 34 C.F.R. Part 104

    3. Broad civil rights statute that provides in part: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. . ."

    4. Requires reasonable accommodation of disability, but does not require fundamental alteration of structure or program.

    5. If used instead of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for an issue covered by the IDEA, then exhaustion of administrative remedies is required to same extent as required under IDEA.

    6. If used when IDEA not applicable (e.g. for accommodation of student with disability who does not require special education services), then exhaustion of administrative remedies not required.

    7. Also protects disabled parents of students in school system, e.g., might require interpreter for deaf patients at school-initiated meetings.

    8. Section 504 education policy rulings and complaint investigations made by Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the United States Department of Education.

      NOTE:See Chapter 6 for a discussion of Section 504. See Chapter 8, Section D for information about locating OCR policy rulings.


    1. Cite: 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.

    2. Relevant regulations: 28 C.F.R. Part 35

    3. Broad civil rights statute prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities in public services and public accommodations, state and local governments and services operated by private entities.

    4. Requires reasonable accommodation. Accommodations that would cause "undue hardship" are not required.

    5. Complaint investigations regarding ADA violations in education-related matters are made by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the United States Department of Education.

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